Never say die Clare reap the spoils

Never say Die Clare reap the spoils

Clare Ladies Press Release 07/05/2006.

Match Report Suzuki Division 111 National League Final. Clare 3 –
7 Leitrim 1 – 12


There are few superlatives that can describe the concluding moments
of this enthralling Suzuki League final played before a large attendance
in Páirc Chiaráin in Athlone on Sunday last. With
just sixty-two seconds left on the countdown clock Clare held a
single point advantage and looked secure in capturing a national
title. How, in the space of a minute, things changed utterly.

In a sweeping move Leitrim’s Camilla McDonagh finished the ball
to the Clare net for what was surely the match winning score. Leitrim
were now two points to the good with just fifty two seconds left
to play from the kick-out. There could seemingly be no way back
for Clare in the time remaining. Credit the whole team and management
for what happened next. An astute kickout from goalkeeper Emma O’Driscoll
found her Banner Ladies clubmate Sonya Maher and Sonia quickly transferred
possession to ‘Girl of the Game’ Áine Kelly who in turn laid
off the perfect pass to the inrushing Tammy Hehir and the Cooraclare
stalwart planted the ball firmly in the roof of the Leitrim net.
Cue twenty seconds remaining and cue tremendous Clare celebrations.

In fairness neither team deserved to lose this tremendous game,
and had Clare lost the match to the late Leitrim goal it would indeed
have been a major travesty. That Leitrim lost to the late Clare
punch will haunt them for years to come but the late goal was certainly
what our girls deserved after such a compelling performance. Clare
dominated from the throw in but were guilty of some glaring early
misses. Assured after these early let offs Leitrim began to exert
themselves on the game and scored four points without reply between
the sixth and eleventh minutes. Their fast moving corner forward
Ann Marie Cox was causing all sorts of problems for the Clare defence,
and the possibility of Clare being completely overwhelmed was looming
large on the horizon. Cue Louise Henchy to step into the breach.
Henchy, who was having a more subdued game than usual, floated the
perfect pass into the lap of star forward Áine Kelly and
the Fergus Rover’s lady planted the ball neatly in the back of the
Leitrim net.

Thus for all Leitrim’s dominance of the early exchanges they were
only a point to the good after the first quarter. Clare Owens added
a further point for Leitrim after twenty-three minutes before Myra
Daly responded for the Banner outfit with a similar score two minutes
later. Clare then hit a purple patch and Marie Kelly had a great
goal on twenty-eight minutes which was quickly followed by a Majella
Griffin point a minute later. These scores gave the Clare ladies
a 2 – 2 to 0 – 5 interval cushion. To retire at the break with a
three point cushion was a real bonus for the Clare girls as Leitrim
really had dominated the first half in terms of possession and general

Clare had the perfect start to the second half when player of the
match Áine Kelly pointed in the first minute. Clare would
fail to score for the next fifteen minutes however during which
time Leitrim tagged on four unanswered points to level the score
at 2 – 3 to 0 – 9 after forty five minutes. Niamh Keane had an excellent
point for Clare on forty-six minutes to restore the Banner’s advantage
before Leitrim again equalized. Super corner forward Áine
Kelly then had a brace of excellent points to restore Clare’s lead
and when Hehir added a further point on fifty five minutes Clare
looked good for the win. The Leitrim ladies had other ideas however
and their star forward Cox was again on hand to bring the lovely
Leitrim girls within a point of Clare with well taken scores. Thus
with little over a minute remaining Clare led by 2 – 7 to 0 – 12.

The final dramatic minute then followed when the whole game was
turned on it’s head on the double. Such final minute drama could
not have been scripted by even the most outlandish thriller writer
and so a major chapter in Clare ladies football rehabilitation was
written. The old adage that goals win matches was never so true
as was also the exhortation that no game is over until the final
whistle. One can only admire the strength of character this team
displayed in rescuing this game in the final seconds.

All sportspeople in Clare should be proud of the achievement of
these ladies and certainly the large Clare contingent of travelling
supporters were hugely appreciative of their effort and commitment
to the task at hand. This was a really proud day for all of Clare
and for the ladies football game within the county in particular.
Praise must be heaped upon the team and also on the county management
of Deirdre Murphy and her backroom squad of Helen Murphy, Davy Browne,
Johnny Hayes and Bernie Regan. The Munster Junior Championship now
beckons and this will be another step up in class again for the
girls. One thing for sure is that this squad won’t lack commitment
to the task at hand when facing into Munster. Could Croke Park on
the first Sunday in October now be a possibility? Hope springs eternal.

Clare: Emma O’Driscoll, Sinéad Eustace, Eithne Morrissey,
Cliodhna Talty, Grace Lynch, Lorraine Kelly, Sinéad Kelly,
Louise Henchy, Niamh Keane, Marie Kelly, Majella Griffin, Marie
Considine, Olivia Lucas, Myra Daly, Áine Kelly. Subs Used:
Tammy Hehir, Sonya Maher, Sinéad Eustace.

Scorers: Áine Kelly 1 – 3, Tammy Hehir 1 – 0, Marie Kelly
1 – 0, Majella Griffin 0 – 2, Niamh Keane 0 – 1, Myra Daly 0 – 1.
Referee: Keith Tighe (Dublin).

Dr. Paul McKenna, PRO Clare Ladies Football Board. 086 6036385

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