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Happy days for West Clare Gaels

Happy Days for West Clare Gaels


Match report 2007 Vhi Munster Junior Club Championship Final Venue:
Feenagh, Co. Limerick.

Referee: Richie O’Connor (Tipperary)

West Clare Gaels (Clare) 2 – 8 Castleisland Desmonds (Kerry) 1
– 8

‘Oh happy days’, for the players and supporters of the West Clare
Gaels who deservedly were crowned Vhi Munster Junior Ladies Club
Champions for 2007 following their victory over Kerry champions
Castleisland Desmonds in Feenagh, Co. Limerick on Saturday. For
any Clare team to win a Munster championship in football is a
great achievement but to win such a championship beating a Kerry
team in the final turns a great feat into a magnificent one. West
Clare Gaels were truly magnificent in annexing this championship
for both their club and for the whole representation of the sport
of ladies football in Clare.

Hopefully the bonfires will still be burning brightly around Kilkee
and its hinterlands when this article is read and also that the
panel of players, their mentors and their huge following of enthusiastic
supporters are still in euphoric orbit somewhere between the Bridges
of Ross and the Blue Pool. Let no person deny but this was an
historic day in the annals of Kilkee football. Urged on by a huge
following West Clare Gaels got off to the less than perfect start
and were two points behind early on thanks to the boot of Castleisland
sharpshooter Mary O’Keeffe. All was to change in the ninth minute
however when Grace Walsh scored a great goal for the Banner county
representatives. Playing into a stiff breeze this was the tonic
that the Gaels’ needed to settle their nerves and although headed
again later in the first half the West Clare team never really
looked back following this goal.

Lorraine Scanlon and Majella Griffin traded points shortly afterwards
before player of the match Marie Kelly shot the Clare representatives
into a 1-2 to 0-3 lead after twenty minutes with a good point
from play. Castleisland then began to dominate affairs and goalkeeper
Tracey Downes was called into action to bring off a magnificent
save. Using their wind advantage to the full the Kerry side then
rattled off three unanswered points from Mary O’Keeffe, Aisling
Leonard and Stephanie Murphy to establish a one point lead coming
up to the half time break. However, just as she has done all year
for the newly crowned Munster champions, Majella Griffin was on
hand just on the stroke of half-time to send over an equalising
point to send the teams in at the interval on a 1-3 to 0-6 score-line.
West Clare Gaels must have been satisfied at half time as they
had played against a stiff opening half breeze and had matched
their Kerry opponents score for score. Also the realisation must
have hit home that they were the better team despite the natural
inclination to treat any Kerry team with a certain amount of awe
and too much respect.

The West Clare Gaels management must have driven home this message
during the half-time team talk as the Gaels came out for the second
period full of serious footballing intent. Despite Castleisland
launching a few early attacks the Gaels grabbed this game by the
scruff of the neck early in the second half and their magnificent
Marie Kelly secured a free five minutes in which Majella Griffin
dutifully converted to guive them a lead that they would hold
right up to the end. Majella’s free was quickly followed by a
point from Marie from play and then a minute later came the move
of the game when the aforementioned Marie Kelly split the Kerry
rearguard with a superb forward run before dispatching an inch
perfect pass to Majella Griffin who then cleverly spotted Lisa
Harte unmarked on the edge of the Kerry square and when Lisa gained
possession she had only one thought in mind. Like a sniper’s bullet
Lisa drilled the ball to the Kerry net and West Clare Gaels were
on the high road. When Leanne Lynch and Majella landed points
shortly afterwards the high road seemed directed towards a convincing
victory destination. However there can be unexpected turns in
any road and the Gaels suddenly came across more than one dangerous
bend. True to their Kerry pedigree Castleisland were not going
to give up without a fight and points from Rachel Cronin and Clodagh
O’Connor saw them narrow the gap to 2-7 to 0-8 by the fifty fifth

Perhaps West Clare Gaels saw the winning line pre-maturely but
they were stung back to reality in the last minute of normal time
when the aforementioned Rachel Cronin slipped her marker and ghosted
in behind the Clare defence to plant the ball in the net to leave
the score 2-7 to 1-8. With significant injury time to follow many
in the large attendance felt that Castleisland were going to do
a typical Kerry smash and grab on the match and again consign
a Clare team to a ‘merited and sporting’ defeat. Credit the Gaels
however during this period of intense Kerry pressure. Their defence
stood firm and none more so than full back Kathleen Foley and
centre back Sinéad Kelly. Goalkeeper Treacy Downes also played
her part in these frenetic few minutes before the siege was lifted
and Majella Griffin popped over another point to ensure that her
Clare team would not be defeated. Six minutes into injury time
referee Richie O’Connor called time and on cue huge celebrations
for the Gaels. All this team were heroines on the day and with
the greatest respect to Castleisland Desmonds the better team
were victorious. This win means a huge amount to Clare Ladies
Football and to West Clare Gaels and winning captain Sinéad Kelly
said as much in her acceptance speech following the game. Paying
tribute to her winning panellists she also dedicated the Gaels’
victory to people such as Máirín Kenny and others who have kept
ladies football going in the Kilkee area.

Credit to all panellists in the Gaels’ team. All fought tooth
and nail to bring this coveted title to their parish and county.
Special mention must go to the display of Michelle Downes at midfield,
Kathleen Foley at full-back and their entire defence from Suzi
O’Gorman to Ciara Harvey – they really stood their ground when
it had to be counted in the final nail-biting minutes of the game.
Following the game there was double celebration for the Kelly
sisters when Munster Council Chairman Michael Ryan presented the
‘Player of the Match’ award to Marie and the Munster Championship
trophy to her sister Sinéad. Onwards and upwards for the Gaels
– hopefully they can now progress further in the All Ireland series.

Oh happy days indeed.

The Gaels: Treacy Downes, Suzi O’Gorman, Kathleen Foley, Fiona
Troy, Rita Boland, Sinéad Kelly, Ciara Harvey, Maria Kelly (0-2),
Michelle Downes, Grace Walshe (1-0), Denise Geaney, Niamh Lardener,
Lisa Harte (1-0), Majella Griffin (0-5), Leanne Lynch (0-1).

Castleisland Desmonds: Ann Marie Wrenn, Geraldine Ryan, Aoife
Lyons, Marion Shine, Cathy Ann Myres, Liz Twomey, Aisling Leonard,
Lorraine Scanlon, Marie Twomey, Rachel Cronin, Gráinne Kerins,
Úna Kerins, Mary O’Keeffe, Stephanie Murphy, Clodagh O’Connor.

Referee: Richie O’Connor of Tipperary.

Footnote: Richie had a great game in so much that nobody can
even remember any of his contributions to the game. This says
so much both for the sporting attitude of the players on both
team’s and the efficient performance of ‘the man in the middle’.


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