LEINSTER boss Paul Howard admits it was a huge relief for his side to make it third-time lucky and capture the FAI Schools Girls Interprovincial Trophy with a dramatic last-minute winner, writes GAVIN EARLEY.
Leinster captured their second title in four years thanks to Eleanor Ryan Doyle's injury-time penalty kick against Connacht last Sunday. The St Joseph's College, Lucan student showed nerves of steel to pick herself up after being fouled in the box in injury time and coolly slot home the game and tournament winner.
For Howard, it was an emotional end to the weekend at Athlone Town FC as he narrowly avoided a third competition loss on goal difference.
That scenario would have come about, with Connacht claiming the title, if the final game had finished in a draw because the Westerners won their two opening games by one more goal than Leinster did.
However, Ryan Doyle made no mistake to make it three wins from three in the midlands and reward Howard and his management team of Alistair Harvey (St Kilian's DSD), Leanne McGrath (St Thomas' Community College, Bray) and Cerrie Byrne (Ardgillan Community College, Balbriggan).
The action began on Friday at Leah Victoria Park in Tullamore, where second-half goals from Lucy McCartan and Sinead Ryan saw off Ulster.
The following day, reigning champions Munster were edged out 2-1 after a late Jamie Finn winner.
So, with Leinster and Connacht level on two wins each and the latter ahead on goal difference, it was Howard's side who came out on top.
"There was a lot of work that went into this success because we started way back in September and built up to this," Howard said. "We knew going into the tournament we had a very good squad but we still did everything we could to make sure they were prepared best and looked after best over the weekend.
"We knew going into the final game that a win was the only thing that would do, so we went for it and had to wait for the winner in the end.
"It was pretty nerve-racking because we have been on the end of tournament losses on goal difference twice before so we didn't want that again."
LEINSTER: Amanda McQuillan (Beaufort Coll, Navan), Amy Denise Guilfoyle (St Mary's Coll, Arklow), Lucy McCartan (Loreto Coll, Mullingar), Courtney Higgins (Coláiste Dhulaigh, Coolock), Niamh Farrelly (St Joseph's Coll, Lucan), Chloe McNamee (St Oliver's CC, Oldcastle), Lauren O'Callaghan (St Mac Dara's CC, Templeogue), Chloe Flynn (St Mary's Holy Faith, Killester), Sinead Ryan (St Mary's, New Ross), Erica Byrne (Balbriggan CC), Eleanor Ryan Doyle (St Joseph's Coll, Lucan), Danie Murray (Lucan CC), Alex Kavanagh (St Michael's, Finglas), Jamie Finn (St Finian's CC), Olivia Nolan (Loreto , Kilkenny), Katie Miley (Avondale CC, Wicklow), Rebecca Simons (Gaelcholáiste Reachrann).