Beaten in the closing stages in last season’s final by Laois, the Connacht county made no mistake this time, with teenager Triona McNicholas kicking the winning point in injury time.
McNicholas had come on as a substitute early in the second half and she took her chance superbly after being placed by a Cora Staunton pass. Once again, Staunton has a major impact on the game with a total of eight points, including seven from frees. However, the player of the match award went to Mayo’s Marcella Heffernan, who was also celebrating her 24th birthday.
Goalkeeper Denise Horan, whose mistake led to Laois’s winning point a year ago, made amends with an important late save after Niamh Kindlon had fired a free in toward the Mayo goal with just 10 seconds remaining. There was also a strong performance from the winners’ captain, Christina Heffernan. However, this was a disappointing, foul-ridden, contest.
The one moment of undeniable class came just before the break when Monaghan’s Edel Byrne finished off a 50-meter solo with a brilliant goal. Byrne’s effort was followed by two quick points from Brenda McAnespie and Kindlon and the Ulster champions were 1-5 to 0-7 in front at the interval.
“People said that what happened last year wasn’t going to be a factor, but it always was,” said Mayo manager Finbarr Egan. “These game was going to be a close one from the start, but when the game needed it, our experience counted.”