From Aisling Clery in Moate
THE Lilywhites of Kildare were singing in the rain as they were crowned All Ireland Minor B Champions after an enthralling performance in front of a large crowd of supporters in Moate on Sunday afternoon.
While the rain led to damp conditions, it certainly didn't dampen the performance as Kildare were dominant across the field, establishing a commanding lead at half time and surviving a second half comeback from Roscommon.
While Kildare were to lead by 2-07 to 1-02 at the half-time break, it was the Rossies who grabbed the first score; Aoife Gavin finding the back of the Kildare net after 11 minutes of play.
Kildare captain Neasa Dooley was inspired throughout, leading by example from her centre forward berth and scoring two points early on to settle early nerves.
The teams traded points midway through the half, Aimee O'Connor, who scored all six of the Roscommon points, grabbed her first but this was cancelled on the resumption by Kildare's Sarah Doyle.
The killer blow came on 19 minutes as Dooley hit low and hard into the bottom right corner of Sasha Lavin's net.
Kildare moved into a lead they were not to relinquish, with a convincing performance from centre back Lauren Murtagh, daughter of former jockey Johnny, and her fellow defenders snuffing out the Roscommon attack.
A brace of points from Nanci Murphy added to Kildare's lead and they grabbed their second goal just before half-time, a spilled ball in the square pounced upon by Leah Hayes, who scrambled with Lavin before finding the back of the net.
Advantage very much in Kildare's court at the half-time break.
While Sarah Doyle got the first score of the second half, the third quarter very much belonged to Roscommon as they ran direct and fast at the Kildare rearguard.
A flurry of points from Aimee O'Connor reignited the Rossies fire and it looked like a comeback was on the cards.
Roscommon made it a six-point game when a Kildare free was intercepted by Amy Malone who offloaded to Mikaela McHugh and the Kilglass Gaels player made no mistake with the finish.
While O'Connor added a brace of frees, it was to be Kildare's day as they ran out stronger, points coming from Lara Curran, Nanci Murphy, Sarah Doyle and a brace from Aislinn Dooley.
The Rossies did have a chance right at the end to find the net after an excellent exchange between substitute Kara Earle and Mikaela McHugh but it hit the sidenet.
The Kildare defence, led by the Player of the Match Murtagh, stood firm to repel late Roscommon efforts and it ended with a convincing Kildare victory, as Gavan Doyle's charges landed the county's very first All-Ireland Minor B title.
Kildare Team & Scorers: Ciara Farrell, Ciara Regan, Lara Gilbert, Emily Birch, Hazel McLoughlin, Lauren Murtagh, Ali Cullen, Molly Aspell (0-02), Lara Curran (0-01, 1f), Claire Nugent, Neasa Dooley (1-02, 1f), Aislinn Dooley (0-03), Sarah Doyle (0-04), Nanci Murphy (0-03), Leah Hayes (1-00).
Kildare Subs: Ciara Downey for Birch, Joanne Deay for Claire Nugent, Molly Dagg for Hayes, Eve Kehoe for Doyle, Carla Ennis for Murphy.
Roscommon Team & Scorers: Sasha Lavin, Aoife McLoughlin, Kelley Colgan, Emma Kildea, Megan Kelly, Shauna Fleming (C), Jennifer Brennan, Sarah McVeigh, Sarah Scally, Mikaela McHugh (1-00), Louise Brady, Ellen Irwin, Aimee O'Connor (0-06, 4f), Sinéad Glennon, Aoife Gavin (1-00).
Roscommon Subs: Kara Earle for Gavin, Alanna Hanmore for Glennon, Lauren Curran for Scally, Ciara Corcoran for Brady.
Referee: Eamonn Moran (Kerry).