Galway 2-10 Clare 0-14
THIS was one of the stranger games that most of the small crowd will attend this year, with Clare eliminated after a match that was delayed for well over 10 minutes due to heavy rain and lightning.
While Galway won after extra time there was controversy at the end of the initial 60 minutes as most felt that the referee had miscalculated and that the Tribeswomen had in fact outscored the Banner by a point.
While there was disbelief in many quarters and anger among Galway officials at the situation, it would be only fair to point out that the players were going by the score that the referee was telling them and that Clare sought points in the closing minutes, at a time when they would surely have been looking for a goal if the gap had been a point wider.
In the end the controversy mattered not a jot, but if Clare had come out on top after extra time it would have been an interesting situation.
Another talking point was referee Mike O’Kelly’s decision not to allow the players leave the field for most of the long weather delay. Given the intense rain falling it was hard to understand why the sides weren’t allowed go back to their dressing rooms as soon as the decision was taken to stop play.
On the day Clare’s biggest problem was scant scoring power, with 13 of the 14 points coming from frees, and one point from open play was a very meagre return in 80 minutes.
The opening quarter hour was quite tight and the first Galway goal came in the 14th minute, when Emma Kilkelly found the net from close range. It was set up by Orlaith McGrath who soloed in from the right wing and found her team mate in a position where it seemed almost easier to score than miss.
That goal left the score at 0-3 to 1-2 with all the Banner’s scores coming from frees from the reliable Claire McMahon.
At the break, Galway still led, by 1-6 to 0-6, although Clare missed a few chances in the closing moments which could have cut the gap.
Nine minutes into the second half Deirdre Murphy had Clare’s only point from play, and it was a fine score, from a rather tricky angle to the left of the posts.
However Galway stayed in the lead, and when the sides were told to stop in the 21st minute, all of the match reporters and many of the supporters had the score at 1-9 to 0-8.
Yet, the referee had recorded it as 1-8 to 0-8, and as Clare scored three points after the resumption, it was a draw.
There was some drama in those closing minutes as Clare tried to chase down the lead. Chloe Morey came up to blast two 21s, one of which was saved and the second which was deflected for a point. The other two points came from McMahon and somehow Clare had secured a draw.
The crucial score of extra time came after two minutes when Ann Marie Starr made a great run before feeding Aislinn Connolly who had her side’s second goal.
It was always going to be hard for Clare to make up the gap without a goal of their own, and they couldn’t find one, although McMahon added three more pointed frees in extra time, points from Sarsfields players Niamh and Orlaith McGrath gave Galway a two point win.
Clare: Denise Lynch; Chloe Morey, Maire McGrath, Carol O’Leary; Roisín McMahon, Niamh O’Dea, Eimear Considine; Kate Lynch, Naomi Carroll; Deirdre Murphy, Lisa Loughnane, Niki Kaiser; Claire McMahon, Fiona Lafferty, Aoife Keane.
Subs: Laura McMahon for Lisa Loughnane, Aoife Griffin for Eimear Considine.
Scorers: Claire McMahon 0-12 (all frees) Deirdre Murphy 0-1, Chloe Morey 0-1 (1F).
Galway: Susan Earner; Therese Manton, Sarah Dervan, Heather Cooney; Sinead Cahalan, Shauna Healy, Lorraine Ryan; Molly Dunne, Niamh Kilkenny; Rebecca Hennelly, Niamh McGrath, Emma Kilkelly; Orlaith McGrath, Anne Marie Hayes, Ailish O’Reilly.
Subs: Brenda Hanney for Ailish O’Reilly, Aislinn Connolly for Emma Kilkelly, Gina Glynn for Sinead Cahalan, Noreen Coen for Brenda Hanney, Ailish O’Reilly for Noreen Coen, Aoife Callanan for Anne Marie Hayes.
Scorers*: Niamh McGrath 0-7 (2 45s, 5F), Emma Kilkelly, Aislinn Connolly 1-0 each, Rebecca Hennelly, Anne Marie Hayes, Orlaith McGrath all 0-1, Molly Dunne 0-1 (F)
*One of the Galway points was disallowed or not counted by the referee.
Referee: Mike O’Kelly (Cork).
By Owen Ryan