CAMOGIE: Clare squeeze through to Munster Final

Munster Minor Camogie Championship Semi-Final
Clare 2-6 Cork 2-5
at Clonlara

Another exhilarating white-knuckle ride in what has already been a rollercoaster season for Clare who soared ten points clear on Wednesday evening before finally clinging on for their championship lives to deservedly advance to the Munster decider.
Indeed, the hosts had to demonstrate all the character and experience accumulated in their similar thrilling run to this year’s All-Ireland Minor A decider as from a position of total dominance, they would be tested to their optimum in an exceedingly anxious finale.
It was a crescendo that seemed so unlikely for two-thirds of this penultimate stage clash as Clare hit the ground sprinting to totally blitz the Rebelettes.
That superiority was clear from the outset as their touch, understanding and patent hunger in hunting in packs to suffocate Cork at every turn was exemplified to near perfection.
The home side were aided greatly by a third minute goal as the ball moved swiftly through Emma Kennedy and Roisin Belgey before Bridin Dinan gathered and shrugged off her marker to rifle to the net.
A brace of Aoife Power frees saw Clare gather further momentum before a score that epitomised the Banner’s spirit as Shauna Canny won back possession on the ’40 and passed back to Kennedy to pick out Dinan for an eye-catching point.
A shell-shocked Cork simply had no answer not to mind a score as Clare continued their rampage with an Aine O’Loughlin point before setting up Dinan for her second goal in the 18th minute to cement a 2-4 to 0-0 advantage.
Cork finally got off the mark through a Lauren Homan ’45 but that was all they could muster as Clare, led in the main by Ciara Doyle and Sinead Conlon, eased to a nine point interval cushion.
While Cork re-emerged with determination, Clare appeared to weather the storm as Power and Homan, now in a deeper role, traded points in a low-scoring opening ten minutes.
However, the pendulum of momentum would swing irrevocably in Cork’s direction for the remainder thanks to an inspirational moment of brilliance from Homan who picked up possession around halfway before slaloming through the Clare defence to unleash an unstoppable effort into the right corner of the net.
Suddenly there was a complete shift in power as Homan collected the puck-out to work the ball inside for Zerica Griffin to garner a second goal in the space of 30 seconds and slash Clare’s advantage to just three by the 41st minute.
With their confidence growing with every passing minute, the deficit was toppled further as substitute Kate Wall and Homan left only the minimum between the sides entering the final quarter at 2-5 to 2-4.
Clare did finally gain some relief when Aoife Power arrowed over a 55 metre free after being fouled herself. But despite some heroic last ditch defending in particular from home full-back Alannah Ryan, Cork, equally resilient through Roisin Killeen, refused to yield.
Substitute Claire Mullins soloed through to lower the arrears to just one again in the 56th minute and from there to the finish, most home supporters were watching the game through their fingers as Clare clung defiantly to their slender advantage while also seeing valiant goalkeeper Ciara McCarthy and the relentless Ciara Doyle take a few hefty knocks for their bravery.
With five minutes of injury-time indicated, four of them had passed when Clare appeared to dealt a harsh blow as Alannah Ryan held her ground in front of a Claire Mullins run but instead of a free out for barging, a free in to Cork was indicated.
Extra-time appeared a certainly as scorer-in-chief Homan stepped up to take the resulting 20 metre free but with pressure heightened, she managed to pull it wide of the left post. And therefore while there were two further minutes of almost unbearable tension, the final whistle was like music to a relieved Clare’s ears as they set up a repeat of last year’s Munster Minor decider against Tipperary in a fortnight’s time.

Clare Ciara McCarthy (Newmarket-on-Fergus); Louise Egan (Truagh-Clonlara), Alannah Ryan (Kilkishen), Laoise Ryan (Inagh-Kilnamona); Ciara Grogan (Clooney-Quin), Emma Kennedy (Sixmilebridge), Ciara Doyle (Scariff-Ogonnelloe); Sinead Conlon (Tulla), Roisin Begley (Truagh-Clonlara); Aoife Power (Scariff-Ogonnelloe) (0-4f), Shauna Canny (Killanena), Laura McGrath (Feakle); Bridin Dinan (Tulla) (2-1), Aine O’Loughlin (Truagh-Clonlara) (0-1), Olivia Phelan (Sixmilebridge) Subs Sarah Loughnane (Sixmilebridge) for Canny (37), Eileen Daly (Feakle) for McGrath (53)

Cork Sarah Ahearn (Ballygarvan); Grainne Hannon (Coursey Rovers), Roisin Killeen (Ballyhea), Edel Lonergan (Sarsfields); Kathy McCarthy (Aghabullogue), Maeve Lynch (Newcestown), Orla Keating (Ballincollig); Zerica Griffin (Newcestown) (1-0), Laura Hayes (St Catherines); Caoimhe Harney (Dungourney), Saoirse McCarthy (Coursey Rovers), Moira Barrett (Ballinscarthy); Aoife Hurley (St Catherines), Rebecca Keane (Inniscarra), Lauren Homan (St Vincent’s) (1-3, 1f, 1’45) Subs Kate Wall (Kilbrittain/Timoleague) (0-1) for Hayes (17), Claire Mullins (Sarsfields) (0-1) for Keane (29), Katie Walsh (Glen Rovers) for Harney (HT), Clara Crowley (Ballinscarthy) for Barrett (51), Katie Dooley (Ballinora) for Hurley (53)

Referee Kevin O’Brien (Limerick)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.