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McGuinness goal sets up St Paul's for tilt at cup final glory

 

By Paddy Hunter

Kirsty McGuinness hit 1-3 as St Paul's booked their place in the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Final with a single point win over Sligo's St Nathy's 1-7 to 1-6.

This clash turned into a gripping encounter with St Paul's coming from four points down early in the second half to eventually get over the line.

After a couple of early efforts it was Hannah Walsh that opened the scoring for St Nathy's, while at the other end Noelle Gormley made a brave save to deny Fionna Rocks, although she could do nothing to stop McGuinness' effort.

A Lara Danhunsi shot dropped short and as Gormley parried the ball clear McGuinness was on hand to palm home the goal from close range.

A stunning start to the second half had the Sligo side in the box seat. Kathleen Coleman's finish to the net added to a Denise McGrath point and St Paul's were in trouble. But they clawed their way back with points from Mairead Cooper and McGuinness as Caitlin and McGuinness, again, helped their side draw level with 10 minutes left.

St Paul's upped the tempo late on and Rocks pointed and Dahunsi got the point her performance merited in stoppage time. Ciara Gorman did go close for a late goal for St Nathy's but the Antrim side held on for the win.

Elsewhere, there was no joy for Tyrone champions Edendork as they came up short in the Junior semi-final, Mayo star Rachel Kearns hitting 1-9 as she inspired McHale Rovers to an eight-point victory.

The scoreline does not reflect what turned out to be a cracking contest. St Malachy's, with Maeve Maxwell also hitting 1-9, came from nine points down to within two points, hitting 1-6 in the third quarter to make a real fist of things.

Sinead Walsh and Rebecca Maughan goals had given the Mayo side a comfortable first half lead and they looked hard to stop but Maxwell bagged a goal, added 0-4 with Nicola Rafferty landing a brace of points to make for a tense climax.

Late goals though from Kearns and the impressive Sinead Walsh saw the Mayo side over the line although their goalkeeper made two stunning saves late on to deny Maxwell and Laura Kelly.

And it was the end of the road for Monaghan side Donaghmoyne in the Senior Club series as they lost to champions Mourneabbey, from Cork, 2-13 to 1-10.

Goals from Laura Fitzgerald and Doireann O'Sullivan in the first-half kept the All-Ireland champions in touch and they kicked on in the closing stages to reach the final for the third year in a row.

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