Having lost the last four semi-finals to their opponents, Newcastle West struck the jackpot on their debut county senior camogie final appearance in Bruff on Sunday. (NEWCASTLE WEST 1-15 AHANE 0-9)
Holding champions Ahane to a single point despite playing against the wind in the opening half, they took their time before their superiority in the middle showed on the scoreboard, before they let loose, as Iris Kenneally slammed home the game's only goal ten minutes from time.
Key to their success was a bolder approach to their game where they used the power of county stars Karen O'Leary and Rebecca Delee to open up the defence and weren't shy of exploiting the opportunities.
The Castleconnell club, on the other hand, relied on the accuracy of scoring machine Niamh Mulcahy from placed balls and, while it kept them in touch up to the closing period, just two points from play was never going to be enough to withstand Newcastle West's greater sharpness up front.
“We'd always flopped when we came up against Ahane but at half-time we felt this was our year,” said Delee who has been chasing a county senior medal with Newcastle West camogie and Monagea ladies footballers for the past nine seasons.
“We were matching Niamh with the frees and then we were able to drive on after we got the goal.” Newcastle saw more of the early ball and, after Geri Mai O'Kelly got them off the mark, she could have opened up clear water had her overhead double on a pass not drifted inches wide of the post.
Once Ahane steadied at the back, they started putting the moves together to reach Mulcahy who drew three fouls to move them ahead. The supply dried up as Deborah Murphy and O'Leary stamped their authority on midfield and, following Delee's free, the sides were level when Ella Whelan struck on the turn.
Using Delee as the fulcrum of their attacks, the Magpies kept up the pressure but, while Delee, Róisín Ambrose and Kenneally moved them in front, their momentum halted as play was broken up by a succession of stoppages. As it moved into nine minutes of injury time, the game finally resumed continuity and Mulcahy scored with Ahane's first shot from play.
They found their groove again to draw another three frees for Mulcahy and had her fourth, an effort from halfway, not been stopped on the line on the stroke of half-time, they would have led by more than 0-7 to 0-6.
Delee's free levelled but that was met by Áine Reynolds and, after Aoife Corbett blocked Nora Collins's shot, another Mulcahy free stretched Ahane's lead to two. However, with the wind behind them, Newcastle were pinning their opponents back in their own half but, despite Delee converting one, they were missing chances off placed balls.
One of them dropping short was pounced on by Whelan but Ahane skipper Rose Collins threw her body at it to stop it on the line. Delee equalised off the '45' but it took another seven minutes of pressure before her free gave the Magpies the lead. That all changed when Kenneally took Laurie O'Connor's pass to drive to the net and, rocking to the momentum, Delee's free, Kenneally and another three Delee's frees galloped them past the winning post.
SCORERS, NEWCASTLE WEST: Rebecca Delee 0-10 (9 freees, 1 '45'), Iris Kenneally 1-2, Geri Mai O'Kelly, Ella Whelan, Róisín Ambrose 0-1 each;
AHANE: Niamh Mulcahy 0-8 (7 frees), Áine Reynolds 0-1.
NEWCASTLE WEST: Aoife Corbett; Emma Falahee, Kate Ambrose, Yvonne Lee; Róisín Ambrose, Róisín Mann, Grace Lee;; Deborah Murphy, Ella Whelan; Laurie O'Connor, Rebecca Delee, Karen O'Leary; Iris Kenneally, Rachel Carmody, Geri May O'Kelly. SUBS: Ida Trant for Rachel Carmody (35 minutes), Liz Carmody for Laurie O'Connor (61 minutes), Ashling Corbett for Iris Kenneally (62 minutes).
AHANE: Aoife Quinn; Sarah Crotty, Rose Collins, Niamh Power; Kate Herbert, Noreen Flanagan, Aisling Herbert; Judith Mulcahy, Róisín O'Mara; Nora Collins, Niamh Mulcahy, Susie McGovern; Laura Nash, Áine Reynolds, Shauna Darcy. SUBS: Sarah Cosgrave for Noreen Flanagan (injured, 42 minutes), Fiona Herbert for Laura Nash (58 minutes).
REFEREE: Séamus Hayes (Mungret).