The Banner v Fergus Rovers 1st Rd Clare Senior Championship

The Banner .v. Fergus Rovers 1st Rd. Clare Senior Championship

The Banner 1 – 7 Fergus Rovers 1 – 4


If this first round championship game is a yardstick for the
rest of this year’s championship then Clare ladies football followers
are in for a really exciting time. In a game played in ideal conditions
at a sunny Clareabbey on Friday evening The Banner ladies of Ennis
contrived to pull off the first major surprise of this year’s

Fergus Rovers of Lissycasey were hot favourites entering this
game and justifiably so, as they had held the whip hand over the
Ennis team for the past number of years in both league and championship
competitions. However their dominance over their Banner rivals
came unstuck on Friday when their usually sharp forwards contrived
to leave their shooting boots at home. Generally utterly dependable
for club and county both Myra Daly and Áine Kelly missed
some glaring scoring opportunities for the Rovers and The Banner
took full advantage of this wastefulness to deservedly out gun
the girls from the west.

The Banner started brightly and had a score from their first
attack when midfielder Louise Henchy converted a close in free.
Played at a hectic pace the play swung from end to end with the
Rovers generally dominating play but for all their dominance they
just could not put the ball between the posts. The Lisseycasey
girls contrived to miss a succession of scorable opportunities
including some close in frees and even at this early stage one
sensed that this was not to be their day. Their misfortune was
compounded in the eight minute when Áine Kelly was fouled
en route to goal and referee John Murray awarded a penalty when
an advantage should have applied as the ball finished in the corner
of the Banner net. Catherine O’Loughlin stepped up to take the
kick but Maria Hennessy, who had a brilliant game for the Banner,
made the first of her many tremendous saves throughout the match
to deny the Rovers yet again. O’Loughlin did manage to secure
possession from the rebound of Hennessy’s save and sent the ball
over the bar for her sides opening score.

The Banner were quick to respond however and the irrepressible
Louise Henchy kicked them ahead less than a minute later with
another close in free. Niamh Keane further extended the Banner’s
lead in the ninth minute with an excellent point from play. The
Rovers continued to dominate the general play but the telling
statistic of seven scorable wides to the Banner’s single wide
by the twentieth minute summed up their evening. Laura Brennen
further extended the Ennis girl’s lead with an opportunistic point
after twenty six minutes before the Lisseycasey girls finally
got some deserved returns for their dominance when Myra Daly had
a point on twenty eight minutes and just on the stroke of half
time Áine Kelly split the Banner defence and when her thundering
shot rebounded of the underside of the crossbar wing forward Michelle
O’Shea was on hand to finish it to the net. The half time score
thus read Fergus Rovers 1 – 2, The Banner 0 – 4.

The second half opened just as the first with Louise Henchy scoring
an early point for the Banner to level affairs. However Fergus
Rovers were soon ahead again when at last Áine Kelly found
her range with a good point from play. When full forward Nollaig
Griffin extended their lead to two points after forty minutes
one felt that the game was going the Rover’s way. Incredibly this
was to be their last score of the match and when Banner substitute
Niamh Cavanagh goaled in the forty ninth minute the girls from
the west simply fell apart. The Banner completely dominated the
closing minutes as their superior fitness began to show. Their
dashing wing forward Mary Tierney scored an excellent point from
play on fifty five minutes and a minute later Eimear Griffin,
another second half substitute, sealed the Ennis team’s win with
an emphatic point. In a frenetic final two minutes the Rovers
threw everything at the Banner in an attempt to salvage something
from the game but the Ennis ladies’ defence remained resolute
and they held out for a deserved win. Referee John Murray had
an overall good game but Rover’s will rue his decision to award
them a penalty when an advantage would have given them a deserved

Outstanding on the night for the winners were midfielders Sonia
Maher and Louise Henchy. Louise Skelly had a tremendous game at
centre back while in the full back line Patricia Ryan and Jane
Kennedy shone out. Goalkeeper Maria Hennessy made a string of
superb saves and really was a commanding presence in the small
square. Up front for the Banner Mary Tierney excelled and Niamh
Keane was a constant threat while second half substitutes Niamh
Cavanagh and Eimear Griffin also had great games. Best for the
Rovers was Lorraine Kelly who ran herself into the ground in her
efforts for the team. Wing back Orlaith Griffin did well and Áine
Kelly was everywhere for the losers but just couldn’t score on
the night.

The Rovers now have an uphill battle to qualify for the playoffs
as they face championship favourites Cooraclare in their next
match. With just two teams to qualify from the group of four the
Banner will be hopeful of gaining at least one victory from their
remaining games against Doonbeg and Cooraclare to secure a semi-final


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