TG4 Intermediate Championship

TG4 Intermediate Championship

Cusack Park Ennis

Saturday 26th July

Richie O’Connor (Tipperary) referee.

Clare 2 – 14               Cavan 1 – 8

Clare fulfilled their objective of getting maximum points from this very entertaining encounter played in ideal conditions in Cusack Park on Saturday.  Following their opening round loss to Roscommon every game became vital and so the result of this encounter with Cavan had a season defining importance attached to it for Deirdre Murphy’s side.

Clare were eager to succeed right from the start and were quickly in front from a Majella Griffin free following a foul on Clare’s player of the match Áine Kelly after just thirty seconds.  Cavan soon levelled only for Áine Kelly to restore Clare’s advantage with a well taken point on four minutes.  Clare were dominating these early exchanges but a succession of their efforts on goal dropped short in to the welcoming hands of Cavan goalkeeper Christine McCutheon and thus it was the Breffni girls who got the next score with a Roisín O’Keeffe equalising point on ten minutes. A minute later Cavan hit the front when their excellent Aisling Doonan floated over a score but captain Louise Henchy led by example when equalising for Clare a minute later.  Marie Considine then broke through to give Clare the lead but Bronagh Sheridan soon had the sides level again.  Henchy restored Clare’s advantage on the quarter hour and a minute later Eimear Considine extended the Banner county’s lead.  Clare were dominant now and pressed home their advantage on eighteen minutes when Marie Considine made a defence splitting run and unleashed a pile-driver towards the Cavan goals.  Considine’s shot cannoned off the upright but quickest to react was the alert Marie Kelly and the West Clare Gael’s ace made no mistake when confidently rounding the keeper and placing a low shot in the corner of the Cavan net.  This was the fillip that Clare needed and secured the home side a five point interval lead as both sides swapped points before the break.

Cavan opened the second half full of intent and two early points from Doonan and Sheridan narrowed the gap to three points before a Majella Griffin free settled Clare to the task at hand on thirty eight minutes.  Roisín O’Keeffe soon had Cavan back in the game with a well taken point but the excellent Áine Kelly then showed her class and accuracy with two excellent points within a minute to put Clare five points to the good with a little over ten minutes remaining.  Clare looked good for the win at this stage but were rocked right back in the fifty third minute when a speculative lob from the cavan girls was totally misjudged by Clare’s Michelle Delaney and goalkeeper Denise Walshe and with both defender’s clashing in mid air the loose ball fell to Aisling Doonan who had the simple task of slotting home to the now empty Clare net.  Cavan were now right back in the game and the next few scores would be of vital importance.  Newly introduced substitute Niamh Keane showed the way for Clare and scored a pivotal point with a determined break through the Cavan defence.  Tammy Hehir then showed her true worth with a magnificent goal-line save from a Sheridan effort that had goal written all over it until the firm hands of the Cooraclare starlet plucked the ball from just under the crossbar.  Hehir’s timely intervention proved inspirational for Clare and it knocked the stuffing from Cavan’s revival hopes.  Captain Louise Henchy soon added her third point of the match and Áine Kelly popped over two more to leave Clare well ahead entering injury time.  Marie Kelly’s second goal on the stroke of full time put a gloss on the score-line for Clare and send them into their final game of the qualifying series against Limerick brimful of confidence.

The nine point win for Clare flattered the home side.  While Clare were indeed worthy and deserving winners they will know that this game rested on a knife edge with just seven minutes remaining and that Tammy Hehir’s goal-line save was probably the difference between victory and defeat.  Credit also to captain Louise Henchy who gave a magnificent first half performance at midfield.  While Henchy did fade somewhat during the third quarter she was back commanding affairs during the vital last ten minutes of the game.  Sinéad Kelly was also excellent at full back as was Grace Lynch on the half line.  Up front Áine Kelly again was superb all through as was Eimear Considine.  Marie Kelly easily had her best game of the year for the county and Niamh Keane was excellent when introduced as a second half substitute.

A home victory against Limerick on August 10th will ensure Clare’s interest in the championship and provided Roscommon defeat Tipperary a win in this game will see them through to and All Ireland semi-final against either Longford or Fermanagh.

Clare:  Denise Walshe, Lorraine Kelly, Sinéad Kelly, Michelle Delaney, Grace Lynch, Tammy Hehir, Sarah Hoey, Sandra Malone, Louise Henchy (0-3), Marie Considine (0-1), Maria Kelly (2-0), Úna Downes, Áine Kelly (0-5), Eimear Considine (0-1), Majella Griffin (0-3).
Subs: Sinéad Eustace, Niamh Keane (0-1), Niamh Coyne, Helen Quinn.

Cavan: Christine McCutheon, Siobhán Jordan, Siobhán McGorry, Donna English, Claire Kearns, Gráinne McGlade, Ciara Reilly, Patricia Lynch, Sheane Kiernan, Aisling Traynor, Aisling Doonan (1-3), Debbie Lee Fox, Bronagh Sheridan (0-2), Roisín O’Keeffe (0-3), Bríd Boylan.

Dr. Paul McKenna,
PRO Clare Ladies Football

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