Sexton scored 2-3 of the West Cork side’s total, including two first-half goals that were crucial in this All-Ireland semi-final win against Leinster champions Abbey Community College (Waterford) at Ferrybank in Waterford.
It means that Sacred Heart is within 60 minutes of All-Ireland glory and if they can reproduce a similar performance to Saturday in the final, they will take all the beating.
Within 45 seconds of the start Sacred Heart had the ball in the back of the Abbey net following a searing solo run and finish from captain Claire Sexton. It was a dream start for the Clonakilty school and gave them a lead they never relinquished.
‘The start we got was crucial. We talked before the game about the need to hit the ground running, and Claire’s goal was out of the top drawer,’ manager Brian Daly told The Southern Star.
‘Our backs were top class on Saturday. Abbey threw everything at us in the first 15 minutes of the second half but we held firm. That was a hugely decisive period of the game.
‘There aren’t enough superlatives to describe this group of girls. Their determination and desire to succeed is a coach’s dream.’
Following Sexton’s early strike, Abbey, who were cheered on by a large home following, replied within a minute through team captain Iona Heffernan but it was to be one of only two scores they were to get in the opening half, the second coming from a Danielle Dempsey free in the 18th minute.
Conversely, Sacred Heart kicked into overdrive. Winning the 50-50 battles all over the field and transferring the ball at speed from the back, the Clonakilty school began to dominate. This domination was confirmed when seven minutes in Sexton pounced on a loose ball 30 yards from goal and, having left two Abbey defenders in her wake, she gave goalkeeper Roisin Cleary no chance.
The same player was to add points in the 12th and 13th minutes to leave the score at 2-2 0-1 with a quarter of the game elapsed.
Abbey got the second of their scores through the aforementioned Dempsey but with Orla Fahey outstanding in the half-back line Sacred Heart were to have the final say in the opening half as midfielder Rosie Dullea slotted over from an acute angle following a thundering solo run.
The scoreboard read 2-3 to 0-2 as the referee sounded the short whistle, with the West Cork girls in control.
The second half began with Abbey to the fore. Driven on by Tara Lacey and Niamh Aherne they began the work of reducing the deficit.
Heffernan pointed as did Dempsey, as the Waterford/Kilkenny girls enjoyed the lion’s share of possession and territory. Crucially though, they failed to create the goal they so badly needed due mainly to the outstanding defensive work of Katie Sexton, Rebecca McCarthy and the fantastic Fahey.
Having taken all Abbey could throw at them Sacred Heart responded with a Sexton point followed by a real hammer blow.
Michelle Dullea, who got through a huge amount of work throughout the game, waltzed through the Abbey defence before finishing to the roof of the net to leave the West Cork school 3-4 to 0-4 ahead with 11 minutes left.
Credit to the Abbey girls they never gave up and a point by Shannon Doyle followed by an Orla Phelan goal gave them a chance of reeling Clon in. It was not to be though as the fitness of the Sacred Heart girls came to the fore.
Orla Lowney popped over from the right before corner back McCarthy slotted a 50-yard free, as Sacred Heart’s camogie juggernaut rolls on after this 3-6 to 1-5 victory.
It all means that Sacred Heart will contest the All-Ireland final against St Dominic’s of Cabra on March 7th with Birr, Co Offaly, being the likely venue.
Sacred Heart: Claire Sexton 2-3, Michelle Dullea 1-0, Rosie Dullea, Orla Lowney, Rebecca McCarthy (f) 0-1 each.
Abbey CC: Orla Phelan 1-0, Iona Heffernan, Danielle Dempsey 0-2 each, Shannon Doyle 0-1.
Sacred Heart: Meabhdh Sexton (Barryroe), Rebecca McCarthy (Clonakilty), Katie Sexton (Timoleague), Caitlin Walsh (Timoleague), Orla Fahey (Timoleague), Kellie Scannell (Enniskeane), Lorraine Dineen (Timoleague), Ciara Ryan (Clonakilty), Rosemarie Dullea (Clonakilty), Hannah Whelton (Barryroe), Orla Lowney (Clonakilty), Michelle Dullea (Ballinascarthy), Claire Sexton (Barryroe), Clara Crowley (Ballinascarthy), Rochelle Scannell (Enniskeane), Rachel Sheehy (Barryroe), Aisling Sheehy (Barryroe), Karina Lavery (Clonakilty), Kirsty Scannell (Enniskeane), Megan Ryan (Ballinascarthy), Becky Harrington (Clonakilty), Kate Whelton (Barryroe), Leanne Calnan (Clonakilty), Ciara Barrett (Ballinascarthy).
Abbey CC: Roisin Cleary, Laura Mulcair, Aisling Flynn, Eve Lacey, Caroline Kennedy, Tara Lacey, Mollie Harney, Shannon Doyle, Heather Doyle, Niamh Ahearne, Iona Heffernan, Orla Phelan, Hannah Irish, Anne Marie O’Neill, Danielle Dempsey, Una Kinsella, Becky Dowling, Aisling Atkins, Shannon Tracey, Emma Hewetson, Aine Hewetson, Deirdre Heffernan, Ciara Atkins.