Clare advanced to the finals of the All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football championship in a thrilling contest with Tipperary.
Venue: Gaelic Grounds
For Clare this game was about atoning for their Munster Final defeat to Tipperary forty eight days ago and they did just that edging out the Premier County by the smallest of margins to ensure the Clare flag will be flying in Croke Park this September.
Niamh O’Dea kicked two excellent goals for the Banner County, her clubmate Niamh Keane also raised a green flag early in the second half.
This was Clare’s finest display of the year so far and their improvement throughout 2016 has been rewarded. While manager Neil Moynihan was suspended for the game and was forced to watch the game from the stands, his loss didn’t affect the team who have learned from their mistakes of letting the game slip away from them.
Although Clare had built a six point advantage inside the opening half, Tipp had reduced the gap to a single point at the sounding of the half-time whistle. Niamh Keane lifted the Banner at the beginning of the half with a goal.
Four points on the trot for Tipperary along with a Róisin Howard green flag brought back into the contest. It was exciting but nervous final ten minutes for everyone gathered in the Gaelic Grounds.
It looked like Ciara Hickey kicked over the winning point for Clare when she secured possession inside the forty five metre line and slotted between the posts. However Aisling McCarthy kicked a very pressurised free to level the sides for the third time in the half.
Cometh the hour, cometh the woman and that’s what the superb Niamh O’Dea did to kick over the crucial score with four minutes remaining. The score from the Kilfenora native brought her tally to 2-05, six of those scores coming from play and it was fitting that she sent Clare to their first Intermediate Final since 2009 as she was outstanding throughout the hour.
Kildare await Clare in the All-Ireland decider which takes place in Croke Park on September 25th.
Clare: Emma O’Driscoll (Banner Ladies); Eva O’Dea (Banner Ladies), Laurie Ryan (Banner Ladies), Laura Egan (Kilmihill); Roisin Considine (Liscannor), Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihill), Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels); Louise Henchy (Banner Ladies) (0-01), Kayleigh McCormack (Burren Gaels); Sarah Bohannon (Shannon Gaels), Ailish Considine (Kilmihil) (0-01 f), Niamh Keane (Banner Ladies) (1-01); Ciara Hickey (Kilmurry Ibrickane) (0-02), Niamh O’Dea (Banner Ladies) (2-05 1f), Grainne Nolan (Banner Ladies) (0-04 3f). Subs: Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels) for E O’Dea (inj. 13), Becky Mahon (Kilmihill) for Egan (HT.), Aoife Keane (Banner Ladies) for Bohannon (46), Clare Hester (Fergus Rovers) for R Considine (59).
Tipperary: Trish Hickey (Brian Borus); Laura Morrissey (Brian Borus), Samantha Lambert (Ardfinnan), Brid Condon (Aherlow); Anne O’Dwyer (Cappawhite), Cliona O’Dwyer (Brian Borus), Jennifer Grant (Brian Borus) (0-01); Lorraine O’Shea (Mullinahone) (0-01), Sheelagh Carew (Cappawhite); Edith Carroll (Galtee Rovers), Mairead Morrissey (Brian Borus) (0-02), Eimear Myles (Brian Borus) (0-02); Orla O’Dwyer (Boherlahan) (0-01), Ashling McCarthy (Cahir) (0-08 4f), Caítriona Walsh (Na Fianna) (1-01). Subs: Emma Buckley (Cahir) for L Morrissey (35), Roisin Howard (Cahir) (1-00) for Carroll (36), Kate Davey (Fethard) for Walsh (53), Claire Mullins (Aherlow) for Myles (57).
Referee: Garryowen McMahon (Mayo)