Clare 2 - 15 Limerick 1 - 16

Match Report Munster Junior Ladies Football Championship Semi-Final

Date: Saturday May 10th
Venue: Cooraclare
Time: 5.00pm

Clare 2 – 15 Limerick 1 – 16

Clare dug deep in this absolute thriller to eventually overcome a dogged Limerick and gain a place in the 2008 Munster Junior final against either Cork or Tipperary. Trailing by 1 – 15 to 1 – 10 entering injury time this game seemed to be gone from Clare but their newly found confidence as league champions stood to them as they refused to buckle and eventually overcame a shell shocked Limerick.

Clare will thank Niamh Keane and Marie Kelly in particular who gave superb second half performances and were the leaders in Clare's eventual comeback. Fiona Lafferty, Louise Henchy and Majella Griffin were others to shine for Clare on a day that the team never really got moving until the final quarter of the match.

In a game played in brilliant sunshine in Cooraclare Limerick enjoyed a fantastic opening period and led by 1 – 4 to 0 – 2 after ten minutes. Limerick's goal came on three minutes from wing forward Elizabeth Nash and their diminutive but excellent All Star corner forward Dymphna O'Brien the first three of her overall tally of nine points throughout the game. Clare's opening scores came from Úna Downes and Marie Kelly.
Limerick continued to dominate affairs and Clare seemed lethargic at this stage and were being beaten in all fifty-fifty situations. Limerick were 1 – 7 to 0 – 4 ahead after twenty minutes with Kate Galvin, Nash and O'Brien adding their points. Marie and Áine Kelly added a brace for Clare but Limerick were very much in the ascendancy. Clare were denied a goal on twenty one minutes when Limerick keeper Martina Giltenane brought off a great save from Marie Kelly and two minutes later Áine Kelly was denied a definite penalty when she was foot-blocked when through on goal. Further points for Limerick from O'Brien and a superb effort from centre back Meave Nash saw them extend their lead before Clare's Eimear Considine was adjudged to have been fouled in the Limerick square and referee Keith Delahunty pointed to the penalty spot. Captain Louise Henchy stood up to the mark and crashed an unstoppable effort to the top left hand corner of the Limerick net. Henchy added another superb point a minute later and Clare seemed well back in the game. Limerick were unruffled however and added three further points before the half time whistle to comfortably and deservedly lead at the interval by 1 – 12 to 1 – 5.

On the resumption Limerick continued to dominate and had a wonder point from Catrínoa Davis one minute into the half. Taking possession on the end line near the corner flag the Gerald Griffins girl somehow screwed a curling shot over the bar off the far upright. When Dymphna O'Brien pointed a fourteen yard free from the right touchline a few minutes later one felt it was definitely going to be Limerick's day. Clare tried to stay in touch with two pointed Majella Griffin frees but found Limerick keeper Martina Giltenane very difficult to beat when it came to goal-scoring opportunities. Twice the Mungret St. Paul's lady denied Áine Kelly and Eimear Considine with excellent saves to keep the Banner county girls at bay. Majella Griffin and Marie Kelly added points for Clare as sixty minutes approached to leave the score Limerick 1 – 15 to Clare's 1 – 10. Referee Delahunty then announced there would be eight minutes of additional time and Clare's revival began in earnest.

Clare were a transformed team in these final minutes and scored quick fire points from Louise Henchy, Niamh Keane and Fiona Lafferty before Marie Kelly took advantage of a rare mix-up in the Limerick goalmouth to somehow scramble the ball over the line for an all important goal to put the home side in front. Limerick replied immediately with a Catríona Davis point but Clare were not to be denied and finished with two excellent scores from Majella Griffin and Marie Kelly. Limerick were devastated when the referee blew full time shortly afterwards. This was a game they were well in control of right up to additional time and they knew they had gifted Clare the chance to come back at them. Fair play to Clare though for accepting the opportunity and the new found confidence within the team will be added to by this amazing fightback.

Clare won't be as fortunate on other days and will need to learn that you must play at your best from the throw-in in championship football if you are to succeed. Still it is great that they have qualified for a chance of adding to their silverware collection and will play either Cork or Tipperary in the final.

Clare: Emma O'Driscoll (Banner Ladies), Sarah Hoey (Banner Ladies), Lorraine Kelly (Fergus Rovers), Sinéad Eustace (Coolmeen), Michelle Delaney (Banner Ladies), Tammy Hehir (Cooraclare), Sandra Malone (Miltown), Fiona Lafferty (Miltown, 0 – 1), Louise Henchy capt. (Banner Ladies, 1 – 2), Niamh Keane (Banner Ladies, 0 – 1), Marie Kelly (West Clare Gaels, 1 – 4), Úna Downes (Kilmihil, 0 – 1), Áine Kelly (Fergus Rovers, 0 – 1), Majella Griffin (West Clare Gaels, 0 – 5), Eimear Considine (Kilmihil).

Subs: Marie Considine (Liscannor) for Sandra Malone 56 minutes, Helen Quinn (Cooraclare) for Áine Kelly 58 minutes.

Dr. Paul McKenna,
PRO Clare Ladies Football

086 6036385

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