Geraldine McLaughlin scored both goals for Loreto Secondary School on Tuesday as the Letterkenny side overcame Eureka Secondary School from Kells in the Umbro FAI Schools Senior Girls Final at Tolka Park.
The playmaker, one of Donegal and Termon’s key GAA Ladies’ team players, was Loreto’s hat-trick heroine from their 3-2 semi-final victory over Ursuline from Sligo a fortnight ago and repeated the match-winning display in the final.
All the goals arrived in the first half. Áine Bennett, Eureka’s goalscorer in their semi-final victory over Urusline from Waterford, fired them into a 12th minute lead. She controlled a Shianne Swarres pass, cut back in from the right and drilled a low shot into the bottom left corner from an acute angle.
McLaughlin began to assert her dominance in the middle and equalised nine minutes later. She put the finishing touch to a flowing move that involved Amy Thompson and Irish international Ciara Grant exchanging passes before finding McLaughlin who rattled the net with a rising shot from the edge of the penalty area.
The midfielder inflicted more damage on the Meath school by netting the winner on 33 minutes. Her free-kick from just inside the Eureka half carried the required power to beat goalkeeper Jennifer Newman.
It was 19 years since Eureka defeated Loreto in the senior decider at St Mel’s Park in Athlone but the Letterkenny team defended well to avenge that particular defeat.
Loreto thought they had extended their advantage five minutes from full-time when substitute Alice Diver smashed the ball home from 20 yards but the effort was disallowed for offside. McLaughlin picked up an injury towards the end of the game but was in good spirits having played a huge part in their epic journey.
LORETO SS: Mary B O’Donnell, Emer Gallagher, Maria Carr, Kaneshia McKinney, Nadine Crawford, Amy Thompson, Lauren Harper (Rose Boyle 75 mins), Ciara Grant, Natalie Sweeney (Alice Diver 52 mins), Marian Doherty, Geraldine McLaughlin. Teachers: Brid Carr, Michelle Duffy.
EUREKA SS: Jennifer Newman; Niamh O’Keefe, Rebecca Goodwin (Fagan h/t - Edwina Olwill 64 mins), Orlaith Duff, Roisin McFadden, Kellie Allen, Joanna Byrne, Jackie Kavanagh, Shianne Swarres; Leah Newman, Áine Bennett.
Teachers: Fr. David Brennan, Leonard Noone.
REFEREE: Marie Ward (Dublin).