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Clare await All-Ireland semi-final opponents

Wexford   1-10     Clare   0-9
CLARE travelled to Wexford Park on Sunday to take on the All-Ireland camogie champions in their last group game in the league, knowing that whatever the outcome, they were still in contention for a place in a play-off or the semi-finals.

Wexford, on the other hand, faced into the game knowing that a loss to the current Munster champions would see them knocked out of the league.

 

It may have been expected that the three-time All-Ireland champions, with a plethora of All-Star recipients in their starting 15, would not be unduly worried by the Banner side.

However, it was the home side who were under pressure, having lost their second game to Dublin, while the Clare girls had taken the points in their encounters with both Dublin and Galway. A win was required by the home side and with the other game, Dublin v Galway, throwing in 30 minutes later in O’Toole Park, Wexford could not risk relying on that outcome to progress further.

Clare drew first blood when Chloe Morey converted a free from the middle of the field in the second minute. Clare, with the aid of the wind in the opening half, kept the pressure on the Wexford backs and were unlucky to see two further scoring opportunities go astray.

Wexford kept pushing forward, piling pressure on the Clare defence and were finally rewarded in the 10th minute, when Katrina Parrock blasted to the Clare net.

Claire McMahon’s free midway through the half kept Clare in touch, before Ursula Jacob sent over two points to push Wexford ahead by three. However, the Clare side drove on and, with steely determination, forced Wexford back into their own side of the field as they went in search of scores. Morey’s free was caught and well controlled by Naomi Carroll, who fired over to narrow the gap to two. Carroll followed this up with another point just two minutes later. McMahon’s free in the 25th minute saw the sides level.

Clare kept up the pressure, forcing Wexford to concede a 45’ in the 27th minute, which McMahon duly converted to put the visitors in front by the minimum. Jacob’s free on the half-hour mark saw the sides level again and this was the position when the half-time whistle signalled the end of a very physical, competitive opening period.

Clare, playing into the wind in the second half, started strong. They drove Wexford back and forced them to concede frees. McMahon was unlucky to see her first attempt drop into the hand of Mags Darcy. Morey’s free two minutes later travelled the distance to split the posts, putting the visitors in front for the third time.

Jacob restored parity when she sent over a free from 30 yards and she put the home side back in front with a similar effort. Clare had their opportunities over the next 10 minutes to level matters and go back in front but with the elements combining to assist Wexford, those opportunities went to waste.

Jacob, Wexford’s scorer-in-chief on the day, hit three unanswered points to put the home side ahead, 1-8 to 0-7, with 48 minutes played. Clare responded well and Carroll’s run through the Wexford defence and shot on goal forced the home side to concede a 45’, which McMahon slotted over.

The loss of Carol O’Leary through injury in the 53rd minute saw Laura McMahon introduced in the backline and the Newmarket youngster did well, holding Emma O’Connor in check. The last 10 minutes was played out with the same intensity, with McGrath’s point for Clare sandwiched between two Jacob frees.

While it was Wexford who took the points, team boss Martin Ryan was the more concerned manager at the final whistle, with just two of their forwards getting on the scoresheet.

Clare were well served by Sinéad O’Loughlin, Marian O’Brien, Jane O’Leary and Katie Cahill in the backline, ably assisted up front by Carroll, Deirdre Murphy and Cushla Hehir, in her first senior appearance.

With Galway bagging the points in O’Toole Park, both Clare and Wexford progress to the semi-finals. It will be Clare’s first appearance in the Division 1 semi-finals. Cork are the likely opposition but with another round of Group 1 games next weekend, Clare will have to wait till then to be 100% sure it is the Rebelettes who stand in their way of making a final appearance.

Wexford:
Mags Darcy; Ciara Donohue, Karen Atkinson, Louise O’Leary; Noeleen Lambert, Mary Leacy, Shelley Kehoe; Josie Dwyer, Louise Hammell; Fiona Kavanagh, Áine Leacy, Bríd Gordon; Katrina Parrock (1-0), Ursula Jacob (0-10, 4f), Fiona Rochford.
Subs: Linda Bolger for Donohue and Eimear O’Connor for Rochford.
Clare: Denise Lynch (Kilmaley); Sinéad O’Loughlin (Inagh-Kilnamona), Marian O’Brien (Scariff-Ogonnelloe), Carol O’Leary (Newmarket-on-Fergus); Katie Cahill (Kilmaley), Chloe Morey (Sixmilebridge, 0-2f), Róisín McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus); Máire McGrath (Sixmilebridge, 0-1), Orlaith Duggan (Clooney-Quin); Cushla Hehir (Kilkishen), Susan Vaughan (Scariff-Ogonnelloe), Kate Lynch (Kilkishen); Naomi Carroll (Sixmilebridge, 0-2), Claire McMahon Kilmaley (0-4, 3f, 2 45’), Deirdre Murphy (Clooney-Quin).
Subs: Sinéad Tuohy (Sixmilebridge) for Hehir, Laura McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for O’Leary (inj), Suzy O’Shea (Ballyea) for D Lynch, Leanne Horan (Scariff-Ogonnelloe) for O’Loughlin, Joanne Walsh (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Cahill and Catriona Hennessey (St Joseph’s) for K Lynch.
Referee: Mike O’Kelly, Cork.

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