Kildare hold off Clare rally to claim TG4 All-Ireland intermediate title

TG4 All-Ireland Intermediate Championship Final

Kildare 2-11

Clare 2-10

By Eoin Brennan

Kildare maintained their dominance over Clare but only after surviving a late backlash to secure their first TG4 All-Ireland intermediate title in seven years in Croke Park.

Having already overcome the Banner twice in 2023 as well as the 2016 final, Diane O’Hora’s side looked to be heading for a comfortable hat-trick until the concession of two late goals.

Eight points clear entering the final ten minutes after successfully protecting the cushion of first half goals for Trina Duggan and Ellen Dowling, the Banner backlash was ignited in the 52nd minute when Chloe Moloney’s free was parried by Mary Hulgraine, only for Fidelma Marrinan to flick the rebound to the net while three minutes later Moloney got a deft flick to a Ciara McCarthy delivery to find the net and tee up a grandstand finish.

Clare had also started the brighter with a brace of Fidelma Marrinan frees by the sixth minute. However, there was a major indication of Kildare’s intent when only two minutes later Claire Sullivan struck the crossbar while Neasa Dooley’s rebound was superbly saved at point blank range by goalkeeper Amy Lenihan.

Clare failed to heed that warning sign and were duly punished in the tenth minute when Kildare again sliced open their defence as Dooley turned provider for Trina Duggan to sidestep the last defender and fire to the bottom left corner of the net.

Sandwiched by a trio of Roisin Byrne points, the Lilywhites soared 1-3 to 0-2 clear nearing the end of the opening quarter, an advantage that they maintained before being presented with a gift in the 20th minute.

Ellen Dowling intercepted a Clare kick-out to fire to an empty net and followed quickly by Byrne’s fifth point of the afternoon, Kildare powered to a 2-6 to 0-5 interval advantage.

Having failed to register a single point from play in the opening period, the Banner found it equally difficult to make inroads on the resumption as scorer-in-chief Byrne kept the scoreboard ticking over for the Leinster side to match whatever their opponents could throw at them.

Aisling Reidy had a chance to alter the narrative at the three-quarter mark, only to see her shot just drift outside the top left corner of Mary Hulgraine’s post.

However, the Banner’s best was to come and while they did have chances to force extra-time, Kildare admirably held firm to secure only their second TG4 All-Ireland intermediate crown.

Scorers – Kildare: R Byrne 0-7 (5f), E Dowling 1-1, T Duggan 1-0, N Dooley 0-2, L Gilbert 0-1.

Clare:  F Marrinan 1-5 (5f), C Moloney 1-3 (3f), C Blake 0-2.

KILDARE: M Hulgraine; L Burke, L Lenehan, A Clifford; L Murtagh, R Sargent, L Gilbert; G Clifford, A Rattigan; C Sullivan, E Dowling, T Duggan; N Dooley, R Byrne, L Curran. Subs: G Kenneally for Duggan (41), M Doherty for Rattigan (46), F Troute for Burke (46, inj), O Sullivan for Curran (51)

CLARE: A Lenihan; G Harvey, S Ní Chonaill, A Keane; L Griffin, C Harvey, O Devitt; A Reidy, C Blake; L Ryan, F Marrinan, C Cahill; A Sexton, C Moloney, L Griffey. Subs: M Downes for Griffin (12), C McCarthy for Griffey (39), R Looney for Griffey (44), S Considine for Sexton (48), J Doohan for Devitt (57)


Ref – Gus Chapman (Sligo).

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