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Clare take Munster Crown in thrilling U-16 victory

Clare take Munster in thrilling U-16 Victory


Munster U-16 B Championship Final Match Report Date: July 25th
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis.

Referee: Mike Meade (Limerick)

Clare 4 – 11 Tipperary 4 – 4

Pride of place this week must go to the U-16 ladies footballers
of Clare for their thrilling victory in a wonderfully contested
Munster final played on the hallowed turf of Cusack Park on Wednesday
evening. Rarely has such a complete footballing performance been
witnessed in any Clare jersey as that of the second half come-back
from the Banner County representatives in this game. Turning an
eight point half time deficit into a winning margin of seven points
tells but some of the story of their epic performance however the
team’s level of sheer intensity and exquisite football ability after
the break left this reporter and many in the vocal attendance short
of superlatives to describe their play. That Clare were shell-shocked
after the opening minutes of play is an understatement. Tipperary
started in whirlwind fashion and had the Clare defence at sixes
and sevens from the throw in.

Munster U-16B Champions Clare

Storming forward runs from their powerful midfielders Samantha
Lambert and Freda Casey saw Tipperary crash home two great goals
before Clare realised the game had started. Referee Mike Meade had
barely noted Tipperary’s first goal from the boot of Ann Marie O’Gorman
after ninety seconds before Clare keeper Rebecca Smyth was again
picking the ball from her net following a cracking second goal from
Marie Murray. Clare responded with points from Niamh O’Dea (free)
and Rachel Garry and Emer Considine before Tipperary again raised
another green flag again from the boot of Murray. Sinéad Moloney
for Clare and Murray for the Premier girls swapped points before
Tipp swooped for their fourth goal on the quarter hour. This appeared
to be a devastating blow for Clare as it gave Tipperary, who were
playing against the wind, a 4 – 1 to 0 – 4 advantage after just
fifteen minutes of play. There seemed no way back for Clare at this
stage as Tipperary were rampant and panic ensued in the Clare defence
each time they sortied forward.

A significant move at this stage of the game steadied the Clare
ship with the introduction of Roisín McMahon at centre back. While
not immediately dominant Roisín did stem the Tipperary dominance
through the middle. Clare added three points before the break to
Tipperary’s two to leave the half time score 4 – 3 to 0 – 7 in favour
of the visitors. A shocked and subdued Clare team raced for their
dressing room at the short whistle hoping for words of inspiration
from their mentors as things had gone horribly wrong for them in
this first half. Whatever words were said or whatever potion administered
in the Clare dressing room at half time should be patented as the
team were a transformed outfit in the second half.

Playing into the breeze they took the game to Tipperary right from
the throw in. Gone was the lethargy and hesitancy that punctuated
their first half display and in their stead was a tremendous self
belief and confidence that powered a tremendous comeback performance.
Eimear O’Connor was switched to mid-field in a swap with Shonagh
Enright and this move was to pay huge dividends as both girls had
tremendous second half performances. Roisín McMahon was a revelation
during this second period a posted a commanding performance at centre
back and was the fulcrum of many Clare attacks during this period.
On the rare occasion when Roisín was by passed in this second half
any Tipperary attacks were efficiently dealt with by the Clare full
back line that was a transformed unit in this second period. Laurie
Ryan, Niamh Martin and Niamh Cavanagh exerted total dominance over
their Tipp opponents in this half and the Premier county girls were
restricted to just a single point for the whole thirty minutes.
Wing backs Louise Woods and Ciara Harvey also found their form with
Louise chasing and harassing like a busy bee and Ciara producing
her best ever thirty minutes of football in a Clare jersey.

With their defence outstanding the Clare mid-field and forwards
set about dismantling Tipperary’s lead. This they did with patience
and precision. Good fast ball was now coming from McMahon, Sally
Glynn and Eimear O’Connor and Clare’s quicksilver forward unit simply
cut loose and in the process cut Tipperary’s defensive unit to shreds.
Emer Considine had an inspirational point from play in the thirty
second minute and three minutes later Niamh O’Dea split open the
Tipperary rearguard to blast an unstoppable shot to the roof of
the net to send the home fans into whoops of delight. Further great
points were added by Considine in the forty third and forty fourth
minute to reduce Tipp’s lead even more following a Premier county
point in reply on thirty seven minutes. Thus the scoreboard read
Tipp 4 – 4 Clare 1 – 10 after forty five minutes of play.

Clare were dominant in all sectors now and the large home support
could sense victory. The Saffron & Blue team further rose to the
vociferous urgings of the crowd (about 350 in attendance but it
felt like 35,000 such was the din) and when Niamh O’Dea cracked
home her second goal from an acute angle in the 49th minute to level
affairs there was only going to be one result. Clare were now playing
like the champions that they are and substitute (the world handballing
ace from Clooney) Lisa Loughnane announced her arrival on the pitch
by cracking home the lead goal for the Banner county on fifty two
minutes. Clare continued to attack relentlessly with Shonagh Enright
and Naomi Carroll playing outstanding games. Both wing forwards
constantly tormented the Tipperary defence with blinding attacking
runs. From one such run Clare’s Emer Considine was fouled in the
Tipperary square and Naomi Carroll dispatched to resulting penalty
confidently to the right corner of the net. The home crowd were
now in a fever of excitement as the Holy Grail of a Munster championship
title now beckoned. Substitute Megan Hough contrived to hit the
crossbar twice in the closing minutes as Clare continued to push

The final word in Clare’s magnificent comeback was left to Cratloe’s
Naomi Carroll who pointed a magnificent effort from thirty metres
in the final minute. Such was their supporters appreciation of this
performance the victors got a prolonged standing ovation from all
in attendance following the final whistle. Spare a thought though
for Tipperary who played no small part in this hugely entertaining
and sporting game of football. Against lesser willed teams their
first half performance would surely have seen them crowned victorious
– however this Clare team is something special and playing in a
final for the first time on the hallowed sod of Cusack Park they
were just not going to let their county down. Clare now proceed
to the All Ireland Series as Munster champions and they deserve
the fullest support of all who have and interest in ladies football
within the county. Mark my words this is a great Clare team and
I predict even greater glory for them not just in the months but
in the years ahead. They are as athletically and as intellectually
gifted a bunch of girls that you are ever likely to encounter and
they have the will, the skill and the passion to bring ultimate
All Ireland glory to the county in the years ahead. Watch this space.


Clare: Rebecca Smyth (Cooraclare), Laurie Ryan (The Banner), Niamh
Martin (The Banner), Niamh Cavanagh (The Banner), Louise Woods (The
Banner), Catherine Danaher (Wolfe Tones), Ciara Harvey (West Clare
Gaels), Sally Glynn (Cooraclare), Shonagh Enright (The Banner),
Eimear O’Connor (Coolmeen), Sinéad Moloney (Coolmeen), Niamh O’Dea
(The Banner), Rachel Garry (Coolmeen), Emer Considine (Kilmihil),
Naomi Carroll (The Banner). Subs: Roisín McMahon (Newmarket) for
Catherine Danaher, Lisa Loughnane (Clooney/Quin) for Rachel Garry,
Megan Hough (The Banner) for Sinéad Moloney, Ailish Considine (Kilmihil)
for Niamh O’Dea, Caoimhe O’Dea (The Banner) for Eimear O’Connor.
Scorers: Niamh O’Dea 2-3, Emer Considine 0-5, Naomi Carroll 1-1,
Lisa Loughnane 1-0, Rachel Garry 0-1, Sinéad Moloney 0-1

Tipperary: Nicola Armitage (Cahir), Rachel Kennelly (Aherlow), Aoife
Casey (Cahir), Geraldine O’Donnell (Cahir), Julie O’Meara (Aherlow),
Jane O’Donnell (Cahir), Aisling Molloy (Moyle Rovers), Samantha
Lambert (Ardfinnan), Freda Casey (Cahir), Shauna Ryan (Clonmel Óg),
Marie Murray (Upperchurch), Ann Marie O’Gorman (Cahir), Ann Marie
Fahey (Aherlow), Sinéad Corcoran (Upperchurch), Claire Mullins (Aherlow).

Dr. Paul McKenna, PRO, Clare Ladies Football Board 086-6036385 www.bannerladiesfootball.com

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