Banner Ladies V Cooraclare

Banner Ladies V Cooraclare

The second game of the Clare Ladies Senior Football Championship semi-final double header was played between Banner Ladies and Cooraclare last Saturday.

Cooraclare made their intentions known as they narrowly missed their first point within thirty seconds of the throw-in. This was rectified shortly as Eithne Morrissey stormed through to claim the honour and within minutes her Captain, Niamh Chambers, followed up with a well taken point of her own. From the kickout, Louise Henchy found Niamh O’Dea who found the net after a meandering run through a packed Cooraclare defence to bring the Banner a point in front. This didn’t last long as the girls in blue fired over the equaliser in their next attack. Niamh O’Dea took a lovely pass from Niamh Keane to push the Banner ahead by a point again and it was tit-for-tat to the end of the first half. Cooraclare’s Captain Niamh Chambers led from the front as she beat Banner goalie Emma O’Driscoll with a placed free only to have it cancelled out by Naomi Carroll’s goal at the far end of the field on the Banner’s next foray. Before referee Barry Kelly blew for the end of a very spirited first half, both captains contributed points leaving the minimum of margins between the teams, in the Banner Ladies’ favour. The long history of Cooraclare’s dominance in this competition, combined with the superb first half performances of Eithne Morrissey and Niamh Chambers really gave the Banner something to think about at half time.

The promise of an equally feisty second half never materialised as the Banner’s Naomi Carroll was fouled early on leading to a converted free by Louise Henchy. Shonagh Enright came off the bench and was key in her distribution into the forward line while Louise Henchy began to exert her influence in midfield. The Banner Ladies were beginning to show form when Niamh O’Dea pointed from play and substitute Meghan Haugh despatched a rocket past Cooraclare’s Mairead Griffin. A major highlight of the second half occurred when a Cooraclare offensive saw Niamh Chambers bearing down on goal at speed and it was only a fingertip touch by Emma O’Driscoll that pushed the ball onto the crossbar. The subsequent rebound fell into Cooraclare hands and once again the crossbar denied the Blues. This would have brought the Cooraclare girls within three points but it wasn’t to be. Becky Coughlan entered the fray and for the last fifteen minutes the Banner Ladies laid siege to their opponents half of the pitch. A foul on Shonagh Enright was maximised by Louise Henchy and quickly followed up by another goal from the pacey Meghan Haugh. Cooraclare were awarded a free in front of goals, by referee Barry Kelly for their only score of the second half, after twenty seven minutes. Seasoned campaigners O’Dea and Henchy both pointed and the tireless Niamh Keane pointed twice in the last minutes of the match. Banner Ladies 4-9 Cooraclare 1-5.

In what was a fantastic double header that gave three quarters of fine football and plenty of excitement, the second half of this game fizzled out somewhat and doesn’t do justice to Cooraclare’s forceful first half performance driven by Eithne Morrissey.

The Banner Ladies now meet West Clare Gaels in the Clare Ladies Senior Football Final to be played in Cooraclare next Saturday.

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