Clare Ladies Football Match Previews of 2008

Clare Ladies Football Match Previews of 2008 Senior Football Championship Semi-Finals & Intermediate Football Championship Final
Clare Senior Championship Semi-Final

West Clare Gaels .v. Fergus Rovers
Date: Saturday, Sept. 13th
Venue: Cooraclare
Time: 2.00pm

This should be a cracking game with both teams eager to contest this year’s final. West Clare Gaels will be anxious to build on last season’s display which saw them land the Co. Intermediate title and progress all the way to the All Ireland club final. In contrast to the recently formed Gaels side Fergus Rovers are this year celebrating their silver jubilee as a club and a county final appearance would be high on the list of their priorities as they celebrate their twenty fifth birthday.

As both sides have emerged from opposite sides of the qualifying groups and as this is West Clare Gaels’ first year in the senior championship Saturdays pairing is indeed a novel one and should produce a great game of football for supporters and neutrals alike. Both sides have a liberal sprinkling of household names in ladies sporting circles The Gaels being blest with the services of county stars Majella Griffin, Marie Kelly and Sinéad Kelly. On the Fergus Rover’s side are current Clare players Áine and Lorraine Kelly, former county great Myra Daly and Clare camogie ace Catherine O’Loughlin.

Fergus Rovers topped their qualifying group with wins over Crusheen and Coolmeen and are undefeated entering this game. West Clare Gaels had a much tougher path to the semi-final stage but acquitted themselves well with emphatic wins over Miltown and Cooraclare. Their only reversal was a loss to the Banner Ladies in a game played in terrible weather conditions in late July.

Both sides play a brand of fast open football so scores should be plentiful on Saturday especially with forwards of the calibre of Áine Kelly and Majella Griffin on view. The key to this game may be how each side’s defence copes with the opposition attackers and who wins the midfield battle to supply bell to the front line. While West Clare Gaels are an exciting and very skilful team when in full flow one must favour the more experienced Fergus Rovers to emerge victorious on this occasion. Rovers appear to have the more balanced team all round and West Clare Gaels may not yet have the in depth strength or experience to overcome the Lissycasey side. A dry sod would also suit the Gaels but given the weather we’ve been experiencing of late things may not work in their favour in this respect either. A big crowd is anticipated in Cooraclare for this game which throws in at 2.00pm.

Clare Intermediate Championship Final Shannon Gaels .v. Kilmihil
Date: Saturday Sept. 13th
Venue: Cooraclare
Time: 3.30pm

Kilmihil, beaten finalists over the past two years, will be strong favourites to make it third time lucky as they seek to overcome Shannon Gaels in this years final. Both sides have impressed en route to the final and both teams have a liberal sprinkling of both young and experienced players.

Kilmihil have two current Clare inter-county stars in their line up. Úna Downes and Eimear Considine are both exciting and excellent players and indeed it is this duo that could be the difference between both sides on Saturday. Considine has been a revelation since graduating from U-16 to the senior county ranks this year & already has a National League and Munster Junior Championship title to her credit. She has been one of the county’s outstanding forwards and is Clare’s leading scorer from play this season. Úna Downes is also a very stylish and versatile player. Úna is at home in the half back or half forward line and is equally comfortable in the mid-field area. A tireless worker on the field she contributes greatly to any team she plays for and is quite adept at point scoring when given the opportunity.

The Gaels may not have as many headline players as Kilmihil but they have a sprinkling of former county and up and coming stars. Michelle Madigan featured in Clare’s 2007 National League success over Leitrim and the mother and daughter combination of Carmel and Sarah Bohannon is a classic mix of youth and experience. Carmel has tasted many a championship success with her former club Fergus Rovers while young Sarah was a star with this year’s county U-16 team.

Kilmihil will have noted that Shannon Gaels easily accounted for favourites Liscannor in their semi-final match and will recognise that they won’t have things all their own way in this year’s final. Still, given their previous experience and depth of talent, it is hard to look beyond a Kilmihil victory on Saturday. However, as this has been the year of the sporting underdog, I wouldn’t rule out completely a Shannon Gael’s shock.

This game throws in at 3.30pm in Cooraclare following the senior championship match between West Clare Gaels and Fergus Rovers and like the senior game that precedes it this Intermediate Final should also be a very high standard and entertaining match.

Clare Senior Championship Semi-Final

Banner Ladies .v. Crusheen
Date: Saturday, Sept. 13th
Venue: Roslevan
Time: 5.45pm

With six current Clare County Intermediate panellists in their ranks the Banner Ladies will be raging hot favourites to overcome Crusheen in this second championship semi-final. Like West Clare Gaels neither Crusheen nor the Banner Ladies has ever won the Clare senior championship so there will be no shortage of incentive when both teams take to the field.

Crusheen were Intermediate champions in 2006 while the Banner Ladies won the same title in 2004. The Ennis side did reach the 2006 senior final but were comprehensively beaten on the day by a superior Cooraclare side. Neither the Banner Ladies nor Crusheen qualified for the knockout stages of last year’s championship so this year has already seen progress for both clubs.

2008 has been a bumper year to date for the Ennis side, In May the Banner Ladies collected their first ever senior trophy in Clare when winning the Clare Senior league. Success also followed in the 11- A-Side championship so already the town team have two pieces of silverware on the sideboard. However championship honours is something that has eluded the Ennis team since their elevation to senior status in 2004 and this will add further pressure on the team and management when they take to the field against Crusheen. In contrast Crusheen will carry no such pressure, as to reach the semi-final in only their second year as a senior club is indeed a great achievement in itself. They will be anxious to impress however and will relish the thought of having a right cut at the match favourites.

The Banner Ladies are justifiably favourites entering this game as they are undefeated to date in the championship with good wins over West Clare Gaels, Miltown and Cooraclare. With county players like Louise Henchy, Michelle Delaney, Niamh Keane, Jane Kennedy, Emma O’Driscoll and Sarah Hoey in the squad one can see the strength in depth of the Banner Ladies side this season. Crusheen won’t be fazed by these big names and although they have no current Clare Intermediate players in their side they have excellent footballers in the shape of Rachel Lenihan, Amanda Pearl, Edel McGuane, Ann Fitzgibbon and Marie O’Donnell amongst others. This quintet would trouble any team and the Banner Ladies would not want to take anything for granted.

Crusheen play a very tight and determined brand of football and their dogged determination makes them a very hard team to breakdown. They put in an impressive display when defeating Coolmeen in the qualifying stages and made Fergus Rovers fight all the way in their other group match. Lack of scoring power up front has been their Achilles heel and they will have to improve in this area if they aspire to ultimate championship honours. The Banner Ladies have excellent forwards and this will probably be the difference between the sides on Saturday. Expect the Banner Ladies to qualify for only their second ever county final.

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