BLARNEY made it third time lucky in their endeavours to claim the National Ladies Cup by overwhelming Wildcats from Waterford 86-56 in the final at the Neptune Stadium.
The Cork side put the disappointment of losing the previous two deciders behind them by storming to an unassailable lead in the first-half and were never to going to be caught.
At the buzzer a huge crowd invaded the court to celebrate with the players, coach Vicky Vaughn and Dommie Mullins, who had been at the helm for the past two years.
Out of it all emerged captain Sandie Fitzgibbon, who was carried shoulder high across the arena to receive the glittering silver prize.
Blarney inflicted all the main damage in the opening half and while Wildcats battled to the bitter end, even outscoring the Cork girls by a point in the second half, the cup was destined to stay on Leeside.
For the second time in the grand final, an American was adjudged the Most Valuable Player and there were no dissenting voices about Maria Maupin’s selection because she was the most influential player on view.
Apart from contributing a game-high 27 points, Maupin was equally forceful under her own basket and mopped up a series of rebounds to thwart Wildcats even more.
It was a hugely impressive team display from Blarney with Caroline Forde and Rose Breen outstanding, notably in the opening half, when they inspired their side to a 24-8 lead after the first quarter.
Despite the best efforts of Mary Fitzpatrick, Michelle Maguire and Gillian Hayes, Wildcats had no answer to the superior skills of the Blarney team, who had one hand on the cup, when leading by 48-17 at the interval.
There was a predictability about the second-half as the sides exchanged baskets with Forde increasing her tally to 20 points and Breen finishing on 14.
There was no joy for Neptune, however, in the men’s final as a Deora Marsh-inspired Ballina swept to 77-61 victory, securing a first major title for the west.
Nemo Rangers clinched their third successive Kelleher Shield by defeating All-Ireland club champions St Finbarr’s by 1-9 to 1-6 in the final at Ballygarvan.
They led by 0-7 to 0-4 at half-time with Denis Linehan dominating midfield and Nemo stretched that advantage with a Seamus Coughlan goal in the 35th minute.
The ’Barr’s rallied from 1-9 to 0-5 down with a Jimmy Barry-Murph goal to come within a couple of points, but Nemo hung on.
Scorers for Nemo Rangers: E Fitzgerald 0-4 (0-2 f), S Coughlan 1-0, C Murphy 0-2, S Hayes, M Dorgan and D Linehan 0-1 each.
St Finbarr’s: J Barry-Murphy 1-2, J O’Callaghan 0-5 (0-4 f), T Holland 0-1.
NEMO RANGERS: B Morgan; B Murphy, F Stone, K Murphy; A Keane, T Hennebry, D O’Driscoll; D Linehan, J Kerrigan; E Fitzgerald, S Hayes, T Dalton; M Dorgan, S Coughlan, C Murphy.
ST FINBARR’S: B O’Brien; N Kennefick, M Healy, D O’Grady; D Philpott, E Desmond, J Cremin; C Ryan, M Lynch; D Barry, T Holland, C Myers; J O’Callaghan, R Kenny, J Barry-Murphy.
Subs: F O’Mahony for Myers and J Allen for Kenny.
Referee: E Porter (Brian Dillons).
CORK United defeated Home Farm 3-1 at Tolka Park to remain mid-table in the League of Ireland.
Former Liverpool star Ian Callaghan was the main attraction for Noel O’Mahony’s side, but did little until crossing for Charlie McCarthy to head home the clinching goal eight minutes from the end.
Cork’s other goals both came from Paul Crowley corners on either wing.
The first, from the right, was met sweetly by Barry Notley to volley in after 17 minutes and the second, from the left, was palmed into his own net by keeper Jim Finnerty just before the interval.
Jerry Thomas pulled a goal back for the Dublin side on the hour but McCarthy sealed the points.
CORK UNITED: Ludzic, Murphy, Neiland, Notley, Dennehy, Keane, Waters, Callaghan, Crowley, McSweeney, McCarthy.
HOME FARM: Finnerty, Ryan, Maher, Breslin, Brady, Williams, Neville, Dunne, Thomas, Connolly, McClusker.
Sub: Buffini for Dunne.
Referee: W O’Callaghan (Waterford)