Clare Senior County Championship Semi-Final Match Report

Clare Senior County Championship Semi-Final Match Report

Date: Saturday September 13th
Venue: Roslevan
Referee: Shane Hehir

Banner Ladies 4 – 15 Crusheen 3 – 4

The Banner Ladies progressed to only their second ever Clare senior championship final when they eventually swept aside the challenge of a gritty and determined Crusheen. The town team’s impressive victory margin at the end does scant justice to Crusheen who really put it up to the pre-match favourites especially in the opening half.

Banner Ladies started brightly and county intermediate captain Louise Henchy had them in front within a minute through a close in free. Henchy and Niamh O’Dea added further points before Jacinta O’Grady opened Crusheen’s account with a point on the quarter hour mark. Crusheen added another a minute later but three Banner pointed frees from O’Dea and Henchy saw the town sides open up a three point gap by twenty minutes. Crusheen exploded into the game a minute later when Edel McGuane scored a brilliant goal to level affairs. The Banner Ladies were visibly shaken by this equalising score and Crusheen exerted some intense pressure and were dominating affairs at this stage. Some excellent Banner Ladies defending kept them at bay however and slowly the town side began to take control again. A pointed O’Dea free put them ahead again in the twenty third minute and four minutes later the same player cracked home her sides first goal and the Banner Ladies were suddenly energised. A flurry of points from Megan Haugh, Niamh Keane (2) and Catríona Connellan to a single reply from Crusheen’s O’Grady saw the Ennis side lead by 1-10 to 1-3 at the interval.

Though seven points adrift Crusheen knew they were still in with a shout in this game and would have been well pleased that they had dominated the contest for periods in the first half. They lacked the clinical efficiency however that the Ennis side’s forwards possessed and found scores hard to come by from a teak tough Banner Ladies defence. That said the town team seemed denied a clear penalty midway through the half when corner-forward Irene Hehir was unceremoniously upended in the Crusheen square. Though Hehir was seriously injured in the tackle referee Shane Hehir incredibly awarded a free out as the town player was stretchered off. Hehir was to be replaced by Niamh Walsh and the Connolly Villas girl went on to play an outstanding match when switched to the right wing with Connellan moving to the corner in place of Hehir.

Crusheen needed a bright start to the second half if they were to get back in the match but the Banner Ladies came out with all guns blazing after the interval and points from O’Dea (2) and Catriona Connellan either side of an excellent Louise Henchy goal on thirty two minutes really closed out the game as a contest. Crusheen didn’t give up however and were rewarded with a Jacinta O’Grady point followed by an Elaine O’Mahony goal on thirty seven minutes to leave the score at 2-13 to 2-4 at this stage. The Banner Ladies continued to dominate however and their switch of midfielder Sonia Maher to full forward paid excellent dividends with the former Irish international soccer player helping herself to a goal and a point. Niamh O’Dea added another point for the town team before Louise Woods and Elaine O’Mahony exchanged goals to finish the scoring.

The Banner Ladies side had just too much class and experience for Crusheen on the night but great credit must go to the ladies in red and white for a very creditable performance. Their fitness levels were excellent and in Rachel Lenihan, Jacinta O’Grady, Elaine O’Mahony, Edel McGuane and Maria O’Donnell they have some seriously good players. For the winners Laurie Ryan, Michelle Delaney, Niamh Cavanagh and Louise Woods excelled in defence while midfielders Henchy and Sonia Maher had very good games. Up front Niamh O’Dea was a class apart and she was ably assisted by Catriona Connellan, Niamh Keane and the superb substitute Niamh Walsh.

Given the recent weather conditions the pitch in Roslevan was in excellent order and Trudy Davenport and her grounds officials had everything in tip top shape. The Banner Ladies now progress to only their second ever county final where they will meet the 2007 Clare intermediate and Munster junior champions West Clare Gaels in the final on October 5th. West Clare Gaels had earlier on Saturday defeated Fergus Rovers by 2-11 to 0-8.

Banner Ladies: Emma O’Driscoll, Laurie Ryan, Jane Kennedy, Niamh Martin, Louise Woods (1-0), Michelle Delaney Capt., Niamh Cavanagh, Louise Henchy (1-3), Sonia Maher (1-1), Catriona Connellan (0-2), Niamh O’Dea (1-6), Niamh Keane (0-2), Megan Haugh (0-1), Claire Walsh, Irene Hehir.
Subs: Niamh Walsh for Hehir 17 min, Aoife Cavanagh for C. Walsh 34 min, Jackie Woods for Haugh 43 min, Rebecca Coughlin for Connellan 51 min.

Crusheen: Noelle McGuane, Marian Meaney, Anne Fitzgibbon, Catriona McGrath, Amanda Perill, Leona McMahon, Tina Meaney Capt., Maria O’Donnell, Edel McGuane (1-0), Jacinta O’Grady (0-3), Rachel Lenihan (0-1) Michelle O’Donnell, Caroline Brigdale, Marie O’Grady, Elaine O’Mahony (2-0).
Dr. Paul McKenna,
Sec/PRO Banner Ladies Football Club.

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