Banner Ladies 3 - 14 Wolfe Tones na Sionna 2 - 4

2008 County U-16 A Championship Final

Date: Thursday may 15th
Venue: Roslevan
Referee: Johnny Hayes

Banner Ladies 3 – 14 Wolfe Tones na Sionna 2 – 4

As the Wolfe Tones players dropped to their knees following the final whistle of this hugely entertaining and high standard U-16 A final one could readily empathise with their feelings. They had given their all for the cause and the score line did scant justice to their efforts in a hugely competitive and entertaining game. They had pushed the 2006 All Ireland Féile champions all the way and while the Banner Ladies were deserving winners on the night one could only praise the improvement in this Shannon side over the years and marvel at how they have narrowed the gap between themselves and the best underage club team Clare has ever produced.

Wolfe Tones threw everything at their vaunted Ennis rivals right from the throw in and let the town side know that they were in Roslevan to make a game of it. Indeed Wolfe Tones were rewarded with the game's opening score, a goal from their very strong centre forward Gemma Quinlan after just three minutes of play. This score set the tone for the game as both sides battled hard but fairly to assert supremacy. Quinlan's goal was answered immediately by a Banner Ladies point from Katie Cahill and the town side wing forward was to play a magnificent game following this confidence boosting opening score. Another town point quickly followed from Niamh O'Dea before Banner Ladies' captain Naomi Carroll had the teams on level terms with a point on eleven minutes.

The Ennis side dominated the next ten minutes or so and added points from Louise Woods, Katie Cahill and Naomi Carroll (2) to lead by 1 – 7 to 1-0 after 25 minutes. Wolfe Tones rallied however and had two excellent scores from Rachel O'Brien and Gemma Quinlan to leave the score-line 1-7 to 1-2 at the break. The Tones were unlucky during this final first half period to see a well aimed goal attempt rebound to safety off the Banner Ladies crossbar and had this effort made the net it would have put a totally different complexion on the interval score-line.

Still it was all to play for as the Shannon girls would have the benefit of the slight breeze in the second period and would also be playing into the traditional 'scoring goal' in Roslevan. The opening period of the second half however is where the Banner Ladies won the match. With Alice Lynch playing a stormer at midfield they dominated the first ten minutes or so and had a succession of points from Niamh O'Dea (3) and Katie Cahill. Sandwiched in between these points was an Aoife Davoren goal to put daylight between the sides. The Tones refused to buckle and their diminutive but excellent corner forward Rachel O'Brien crashed home a well taken goal on forty four minutes to give them renewed hope. With Tatiana Duarte now finding space for the Tones they ploughed forward and the Ennis goals led a charmed life as Gemma Quinlan saw two great efforts whizz narrowly wide of the uprights. Tatiana did score the point of the game on fifty three minutes but this was scant reward for the effort her team as a whole were putting in. The Banner Ladies had further points from Lauren Dooley, Niamh Walsh and Niamh O'Dea to a single reply from Wolfe Tones before Lauren Dooley added an injury time goal to completely flatter the Ennis side on the scoreboard.

Referee Johnny Hayes (Fergus Rovers) blew full time shortly afterwards and the contrast in emotions between both sides could not have been more stark. While praising the Banner Ladies for their great win one must also acknowledge the display of the losing team and congratulate the Wolfe Tone's mentors and management for having them so well prepared.

Individuals on both sides gave excellent displays. For the loser's defender Niamh Guinan was outstanding and must surely be considered for a place on the county U-16 panel. Tatiana Duarte also gave a wonderful second half display and she too must have caught the eye of the county selectors present. Harriet Flynn, Toni Lagan Gemma Quinlan, Sarah Kelly and Rachel O'Brien were others to shine for Wolfe Tones.

For the winners Alice Lynch, Marian Conway and Katie Cahill gave exceptional performances while Louise Woods, Niamh O'Dea, Laurie Ryan and captain Naomi Carroll also contributed greatly.

Following the game Clare Ladies Board vice-chairman David Browne (Doonbeg) presented the winning trophy to Banner Ladies captain Naomi Carroll. In accepting the trophy Naomi acknowledged the narrowing of the gap between these sides who contested U-10, U-12 and U-14 finals against each other every other year over the past six years.

Banner Ladies: Aidín Shannon, Aoife Martin, Laurie Ryan, Marian Conway, Helen Hehir, Maria McMahon, Lorna Higgins, Alice Lynch, Louise Woods (0-1), Niamh Walsh (0-1), Niamh O'Dea (0-4), Katie Cahill (0-3), Mary Allen, Naomi Carroll (1-4), Aoife Davoren (1-0).

Subs: Orla Hennessy (for A. Shannon), Lauren Dooley (1-1, for M. Allen), Emma Glynn (for A. Davoren).

Wolfe Tones: Jennifer Malone, Niamh Guinan, Niamh Brady, Kerrie Quinn, Clodagh Shortiss, Sarah Kirwan, Catherine Danagher, Tatiana Duarte (0-1), Harriet Flynn, Toni Lagan, Gemma Quinlan (1-1), Sarah Kelly, Rachel O'Brien (1-1), Máire McGrath, Claire O'Brien.

Subs: No. 21 – not listed on programme (0-1).

Footnote: It was great that the Clare Ladies Board produced a simple but informative programme for the game. It was not great though that the game was played on an unlined pitch with no sideline flags etc.

Dr. Paul McKenna,
Secretary/PRO Banner Ladies Football Club

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