By Daragh Ó Conchúir
LORETO SECONDARY SCHOOL KILKENNY secured a remarkable sixth O'Neills All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Senior A title in nine seasons but they were given a huge fright before emerging from Darver with a 2-18 to 4-8 win over Cross & Passion College Ballycastle.
Loreto led by 14 points at half time, 2-10 to 0-2, having used the strong wind magnificently but were clinging on towards the end, as CPC, who were chasing their first crown, narrowed the margin to three.
The Noresiders had done enough in the opening period however, thanks to goals from Katie Brennan and Ruth Kent, and further significant scoring contributions by Rachel Kelly and Steffi Fitzgerald.
It was all Ballycastle after the resumption however and two goals in 85 seconds from player of the match Róisín McCormack galvanised them.
The Antrim Minor placed Charley McCarry for another and then completed her hat-trick with a stunning strike but with just a score between the sides, Fitzgerald ended a strong run with the insurance point for the Kilkenny girls.
St Angela's Waterford and St Mary's New Ross could not be separated at the end of a rip-roaring hour of play in the O'Neills All-Ireland Post Primary Schools' All-Ireland Junior A Final in Carriganore.
St Mary's led by a goal with time running out but a fantastic dipping goal from a free by Aoife Fitzgerald that brought to mind Paul Flynn's famous effort for Waterford against Cork in the 2004 Munster Hurling Final, secured a 1-9 to 3-3 draw for the home side.
Fitzgerald was the key contributor for St Angela's in their Semi-Final defeat of Cross & Passion with seven points but the Gaill Tír teenager, who came to national prominence with a freestyle hurling video in 2015, bettered that contribution by providing all her side's tally.
Katie Murphy put New Ross on the front foot with goals in the eighth and 22nd minutes and they led by 2-1 to 0-4 at half-time. Fitzgerald gradually chipped away at the deficit and shot five points to bring the sides level with six minutes remaining.
When Faye Codd goaled, it looked like the definitive score but Fitzgerald showed that her box of tricks were not just for freestyling with that late stunning strike to secure a replay for her side, which will take place at the same venue on Thursday.
Presentation Wexford and Castlecomer Community School will return to Tinryland, also on Thursday, as the Junior B decider ended in a draw too. Pres led by 3-5 to 0-4 at the change of ends but it was all Castlecomer in the second half and they pegged their opponents back to finish level, 2-10 to 3-7.
In the Junior C Final, St Mary's Midleton beat St Cuan's Ballinasloe by 3-17 to 2-9, while in the Junior D decider, the honours went the way of Coláiste Phobail Roscrea, who got the better of Clarin College Athenry by 7-7 to 1-3.