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Veterans lead from the middle

BANNER midfielders Louise Henchy and Niamh Keane added a hint of know-how and experience to the Munster champions. Along with leading the Banner from the middle of the field, they have also represented Clare, winning an All-Ireland intermediate medal in 2009. Both were ecstatic yet reflective when talking about their club’s greatest day yet on Saturday in Kilmallock. “Myself and Niamh are two of the longest-serving players in the club. A photo went up during the week of a team back in 1997. You think back today of all those years of training, starting off at U-14,” Henchy said. Just as she was about to expand, Henchy and Keane came under a frenzied water attack from their playing colleagues. “We’ve a really mature bunch,” Henchy laughed. “I got the worst of it,” Keane grimaced, though the soaking wasn’t about to dampen their day. “We must be playing 16 or 17 years and today is the best day. 2009 was unbelievable …

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Cahill delivers for magnificent Munster champions

Banner Ladies  1-13 St Valentine’s (Cork)   1-12 SHOWING exceptional skill levels, deeply embedded resolve and championship-winning temperament, Banner Ladies became just the second Clare club to win the Munster A senior club title in Kilmallock last Saturday. Katie Cahill, starting her first game since returning from the US, kicked the winning point three minutes into injury time of what was a truly epic provincial final. A minute earlier, St Val’s full-forward Caoimhe Creedon put a kickable free wide. That would have put the Cork champions a point up and they may have held on for the win. The free was awarded against Niamh Keane and to compound it, referee Keith Delahunty moved it closer to goal when the Banner midfielder reacted somewhat unappreciatively to the decision. The first-time Cork senior champions were trying to win the title for their county for the 13th successive season, such is the Rebel county’s dominance at this level. Banner started superbly and led 1-5 …

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The O’Donnell impact

BOB O’Brien could afford a wry smile as he listened with interest to the half-time conversation among the Éire Óg U-8 hurlers during a recent underage hurling blitz involving teams from Clare and Limerick. The main topic of conversation among the young hurlers at the tournament in Old Christians was who could be the number 22, as they attempted to repeat Shane O’Donnell’s sensational tally of 3-3, which steered Clare to their fourth thrilling All-Ireland senior hurling success. The Éire Óg hurling academy manager smiled as he reflected. “What Shane O’Donnell has done for the game is incredible. These six or seven-year-olds want to line out in the No.22 jersey and become the next Shane O’Donnell. Players were telling each other, I am 22 in this game and you can be 22 in the next game. It is fantastic for the game of hurling and is a great boost for the club,” he said. This is just one example of …

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Davy’s dream fulfilled

  IT’S a dream fulfilled for Davy Fitzgerald to bring an All-Ireland hurling title to Clare. “I am so happy to be one of a very small number of managers that has guided Clare to All-Ireland success,” he said at county board meeting this week. “The one goal for me is to keep Clare GAA up on top as much as I can; that’s what I am going to strive to do and what I hope we will all do it  together”. “People will say that Clare will win the next few All-Irelands. We cannot say that. Ye cannot build our players up for a fall like that. We will try and stay up there and be as competitive as we can and try and deliver another All-Ireland in the next three to four years. We will try and not leave it 16 years. Having been formally reappointed as manager, he referred to the circumstances in which he might step …

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Photo Gallery-Banner Ladies Win Munster Senior Club Championship

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Four remain in Hamilton Cup race

By Seamus Hayes Four teams remain in the race for the Hamilton Cup, the prize for the winners of the Clare Senior Hurling Championship. With Ballyea having secured their passage to the last four with a surprise but fully merited win over a fancied Crusheen side on Saturday, the remaining three places were filled on Sunday afternoon. Sixmilebridge, Clonlara and champions Newmarket justified favouritism when accounting for Tubber, O’Callaghan’s Mills and Inagh-Kilnamona respectively. The Mills were somewhat unlucky to lose out by a point to Clonlara in a tie that required extra time before the South-East Clare side went through by the minimum margin. Cathal O’Connell was their top scorer with 0-8, while Colm Galvin scored five points. O’Callaghan’s Mills contributed handsomely to the most exciting game of the day and were unlucky to bow out of the title race. They will now turn their attentions to the Clare Champion Cup (senior league) semi-final and the senior B final. Champions …

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Ballyea shock Crusheen

By Seamus Hayes Ballyea caused a major shock in the Clare senior hurling championship on Saturday when they defeated one of the favourites for the title, Crusheen at Cusack Park. There is no disputing the result as Ballyea were the sharper and hungrier side throughout. They led by a point at half time, 1-12 to 2-8  before outscoring their opponents 0-6 to 0-3 in the final ten minutes A ten point haul by the outstanding Tony Kelly was a key factor in Ballyea’s victory on a day when team captain Paul Flanagan was magnificent at centre back. Jack Browne, Martin O’Leary and Clare football captain Gary Brennan were  others to stand out for the winners who finished the game with fourteen players after midfielder Gearoid O’Connell picked up a second yellow card in the closing minutes. Meanwhile, county minor A hurling champions Kilmaley moved to within a game of retaining the title when they scored a two point win over …

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Banner captain hoping for a memorable birthday

IF Banner Ladies are to become the first Clare club since Cooraclare in 1996 to win the Munster A senior ladies title, team captain Niamh O’Dea will have a key role to play. The Kilfenora girl and third-year UL maths and PE student has scored 3-17 in her last three games. Her 1-11 county-final tally helped Banner Ladies to an easy win over Liscannor, while O’Dea put away 2-2 in last weekend’s Munster B final win over Ballymacarbry from Waterford. Ironically, Cooraclare defeated the same club in a thrilling Munster final 17 years ago, winning 4-10 to 2-15 after extra time. It is Cork opposition who stand in the Banner’s way on Saturday in Kilmallock. It won’t be to the forefront of Niamh’s thinking until at least 4pm on provincial final day but if the Clare champions win, she will particularly enjoy her 20th birthday celebrations. “It’d be a good birthday present, wouldn’t it?” she laughed. She is confident the …

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