Aisling Hanly said it was a "dream come true" for her to captain the Convent of Mercy, Roscommon to the Lidl All Ireland Post Primary School Senior B Championship title this week.
Last week, the Roscommon footballer, who was born profoundly deaf, spoke about playing while wearing two cochlear implants which allow her to hear.
In Thursday's final against Mercy Mounthawk, Kerry, she scored 1-2 in a five-point win.
"If you told me as a child that one day I was going to captain the Convent of Mercy senior team to an All-Ireland final, I would have probably laughed because of my implants," she said in an interview with Jerome Quinn after the game.
"I would have been like, 'No, I probably wouldn't do that. I'd be too shy'. I did not think this day would come, but it did."
Lidl All Ireland Post Primary School Senior B Championship Final
Convent of Mercy, Roscommon 2-11
Mercy Mounthawk, Tralee 2-6
Match report by Kevin Egan
A powerful final quarter surge was enough to secure the Lidl All-Ireland Post Primary School Senior B title for Convent of Mercy from Roscommon, with goals from Siofra Hession and Aisling Hanly the crucial scores at Éire Óg GAA club in Nenagh.
It’s a first All-Ireland crown for the Roscommon school since they secured their first national title since winning the Senior A crown back in 2009.
The wind-assisted Mercy Mounthawk girls got out to a flying start when good work from Róisín Rahilly set up Katie Nix on the corner of the large square and the Kerins O’Rahillys attacker didn’t waste her chance, rifling a clinical shot to the bottom corner of the Convent of Mercy net.
The Connacht champions settled well into the game from there and seemed to offer a much more varied threat up front.
County senior star and team captain Hanly was flagged as the main threat and she did land some good points, but Mercy Mounthawk couldn’t afford to expend too much defensive energy on the Kilbride player as Ciara Dowd, Niamh Walsh and Shauna Walsh chipped over good points from play in the opening half to help them get to half-time all square at 0-6 to 1-3.
Rahilly and Grace Reidy worked hard in the middle third to win some good turnover ball and when Mercy Mounthawk carried the ball straight through the Convent of Mercy defence, they posed a threat, but excellent defensive work from Lilly and Hannah Murray, as well as an excellent performance from Erin McDermott ensured that the Tralee school never built up any significant scoring momentum.
Seven second half wides from Mercy Mounthawk illustrated the difficulty in shooting into the wind, but it still took time for Convent of Mercy to take control of the game, and going into the final quarter, it was still very tightly poised at 0-8 to 1-4.
The game was blown wide open in the space of two minutes however when Siofra Hession and Lilly Murray kicked points either side of a superb goal from Hession, blasted into the roof of the net after some slick handpassing and great pace down the left flank cut open the Mercy Mounthawk defence.
Convent of Mercy continued in the ascendancy and moved nine points clear when Hanly burst through the cover and cleverly rolled the ball underneath Kelly Fitzgerald, who had made some fine saves in the Mercy Mounthawk goal up to that point, but they had to endure some sticky moments at the end after yellow cards for Hession and Aisling Shanagher left them short-handed in the closing minutes.
With pressure mounting, Róisín Rahilly won a late penalty that Holly O’Brien converted, but outside of that, Convent of Mercy held their discipline to see their way through four minutes of stoppage time.
'It's a dream come true..'
See the girl who has inspired the nation become the hero in today's @lidl_ireland PPS All Ireland Final, scoring a goal and lifting the cup for Convent of Mercy, Roscommon.
Video by @JeromeQuinn from Live Stream coverage with @MQ_Video pic.twitter.com/IMHDinEBpA
— Ladies Football (@LadiesFootball) March 30, 2023
Convent of Mercy: A Hanly 1-2, S Hession 1-1, N Walsh 0-3 (0-1f), C Dowd 0-3 (0-1f), S Walsh 0-1, L Murray 0-1.
Mercy Mounthawk: L Slattery 0-4 (0-2f), K Nix 1-0, H O’Brien 1-0 pen, A O’Connor McCarthy 0-1. R Rahilly 0-1f.
CONVENT OF MERCY: É Dowd; M Lohan, E McDermott, E McNeill; H Murray, L Murray, A Hussey; A Shanagher, E Biesty; E Tully, N Walsh, S Walsh; S Hession, A Hanly, C Dowd. Subs: Z Fallon for Biesty (45), J Morris for S Walsh (56), M Rogers for McNeill (57), A Mulry for H Murray (59), MA Feeley for Tully (60).
MERCY MOUNTHAWK: K Fitzgerald; R O’Donnell, É O’Connor, L Reilly; O McKenna, G Reidy, K Coffey; N Quinn, C Gannon; R Rahilly, H O’Brien, K Enright; K Nix, L Slattery, A O’Connor McCarthy. Sub: E Costello for Enright (40).
Ref: Ger Canny (Mayo).