Munster Junior Final match report

Munster Junior Final Match Report



Venue: Pairc na nGael, Limerick.

Clare 3 – 13 Limerick 1 – 8

Clare are Munster Junior Ladies champions for the first time
since 1996 after they overcame Limerick with a power packed display
in Pairc na nGael, Limerick. Clare were by far the better of the
two teams and richly deserved their Munster crown.

Played in glorious sunshine Clare opted to avail of the significant
wind blowing from the Ennis Road end of the ground in the first
half. From the throw in Clare launched an early attack and Eithne
Morrissey’s through ball found wing forward Niamh Keane who dispatched
the ball between the uprights to register the opening score of
the game with only fifteen seconds on the clock. A minute later
Minnie Considine popped up to score Clare’s second point and all
was going well for the Banner lassies. Limerick countered with
a Dympna O’Brien free in the third minute before the excellent
Louise Henchy scored two great points from play in the sixth and
twelfth minutes. O’Brien did score another Limerick point from
a close in free before Majella Griffin again extended Clare’s
lead with a pointed free of her own on sixteen minutes.

Limerick began to dominate affairs somewhat and kicked two unanswered
points to narrow the gap to five points to four after twenty minutes.
Team captain Majella Griffin pointed another Clare free in the
twenty third minute before the first major turning point of the
match occurred when Lissycasey’s Áine Kelly was fouled
in the large square when bearing down on goal. Referee Keith Delahunty
had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and cool as
you like former Irish soccer international Louise Henchy dispatched
the perfect kick low and hard to the right corner of the net.
Majella Griffin kicked another point from play on twenty seven
minutes before Clare struck their second major blow to Limerick.
With just twenty five seconds remaining on the countdown clock
dashing corner forward Myra Daly volleyed and unstoppable shot
to the Limerick net. This was the tonic Clare needed just on the
stroke of half time to give them a 2 – 7 to 0 – 5 interval cushion.
Given the strength of the wind one felt that Clare would need
every one of their eight points lead. Limerick had dominated for
periods in the first half and everything was still to play for.
Clare’s second half fitness levels had also been called in to
question in previous games and one wondered how they would cope
with the Shannonsider’s second half challenge.

In truth Clare’s second half performance was probably their best
half hour’s football all year. Team captain Majella Griffin had
a spectacular half hour and scored five points in this period
including a fantastic forty eight minute score from all of forty
yards and into the wind. Defensively Clare also upped their game
and centre back Eithne Morrissey had a magnificent game. Morrissey,
as she has done all year, dominated defensively with some superb
high fielding and thunderous clearances. Morrissey was ably assisted
in defence by excellent performances from Sinéad Kelly
and Sinéad Eustace. Coolmeen’s Grace Lynch did Trojan work
in this second period and covered every inch of the Limerick pitch
in her determination to ensure a Clare win. A measure of Clare’s
commitment in this second half was their response of three quick
points in succession on forty seven, forty eight and forty nine
minutes following Limerick’s goal scored by Lisa Molineaux in
the forty fifth minute. This score had brought Limerick back into
the game and narrowed the lead to 2 – 9 to 1 – 6. Limerick did
miss another glorious opportunity immediately after their goal
and with this miss went any chance they had of rescuing the game.
Clare battened down the hatches and with Griffin pointing at will
the cup was Clare bound. Myra Daly put the icing on the cake with
another well taken goal on fifty two minutes and though Limerick
did score a brace of late points the game was well and truly over
at this stage. The final score thus read Clare 3 – 13 to Limerick’s
1 – 8.

Clare were really worthy champions and especially gratifying
was their superb second half performance. Scenes of great jubilation
greeted the final whistle and there were great celebratory scenes
when Munster Council Vice Chairman, Dan O’Mahony presented the
championship trophy to Clare captain Majella Griffin. Griffin
was a truly worthy recipient of the trophy as she has led her
team by example all season. While difficult not to heap praise
on all of the Clare team on the night special mention must go
to the performances of Eithne Morrissey, Louise Henchy, Grace
Lynch, Myra Daly, Niamh Keane, Sinead Kelly, Sinéad Eustace
and Tammy Hehir (introduced as a twentieth minute substitute).
These girls were magnificent in crafting the Clare victory.

One mystifying and disappointing occurrence on an otherwise great
evening for Clare Ladies Football was the award of player of the
match to Limerick full back Sandra Healy. Healy was give a torrid
time by Clare captain Majella Griffin throughout the second half
and also appeared to foot-block Áine Kelly for the Clare
penalty. That one of Clare’s many stars was overlooked for this
accolade and award is questionable in the extreme.

Off the field of play Clare officials were seething with anger
in that there was no dressing room available for the team on its
arrival at the Limerick Gaelic Grounds for the match. Worse was
to come, in that on using the only empty dressing room (to be
used by Waterford ladies in a later game) all of the Clare player’s
possessions (kit, clothes, phones, jewellery, wallets etc.) were
dumped in a heap during the first half of their match. Damage
was also caused to the Clare physiotherapist’s equipment and personal
items went missing from some of the Clare girls during the interference
with their property. This was a very serious matter to have occurred
and I cannot recall such an occurrence having previously happened
in any sporting arena. So incensed were the Clare team and officials
that it was considered contacting the Gardaí to report
the interference with their property and to retrieve missing items.
Luckily most missing possessions were found before the squad departed
the grounds. Surely a major inquiry will have to take place into
this incident and the person responsible for this debacle called
to book.

Clare Team: Emma O’Driscoll (The Banner), Carmel Considine (Liscannor),
Lorraine Kelly (Fergus Rovers), Monica Lillis (Cooraclare), Sinéad
Kelly (West Clare Gaels), Eithne Morrissey(Cooraclare), Sinéad
Eustace (Coolmeen), Louise Henchy (The Banner), Grace Lynch (Coolmeen),
Niamh Keane (The Banner), Majella Griffin, Capt. (West Clare Gaels),
Marie Considine (Liscannor), Áine Kelly (Fergus Rovers),
Majella Lillis (Cooraclare), Myra Daly (Fergus Rovers).

Subs: Tammy Hehir (Cooraclare) for Majella Lillis (20 minutes),
Denise Walsh for Marie Considine (55 minutes).

Scorers: Majella Griffin 0 – 8, Myra Daly 2 – 1, Louise Henchy
1 – 2, Niamh Keane and Marie Considine 0 – 1 each.

Referee: Keith Delahunty (Moyle Rovers, Tipperary).

Dr. Paul McKenna,

Media Assistant Clare Ladies Junior Football Team

086 – 6036385


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