Clare 3-17 Waterford 3-9
RIDDLING the Waterford defence with attacking potency, Clare returned to the All-Ireland intermediate final stage in Croke Park following last Saturday’s defeat of the Déise girls in McDonagh Park, Nenagh.
Management and players will have to explore ways of tightening up defensively however, before they meet either Longford or Fermanagh at 2pm on Sunday, September 27.
Were it not for two exceptionally brave Denise Walsh saves midway through the second half, Clare could have conceded at least five goals. Walsh also saved a poorly struck Michelle Ryan penalty four minutes from the end of the second half.
At the opposite end of the field though, Waterford couldn’t handle Clare’s range of attacking threat. Niamh Keane, eagerly flitting across the Clare forward line, produced an outstanding half-hour’s football in the first period, kicking four points from play and helped to create like scores for Áine Kelly and Majella Griffin.
Kelly scored Clare’s first-half goal just two minutes before the interval, linking up with Griffin, who had been fed with an astute diagonal ball from Louise Henchy.
Clare badly needed this goal as, despite their impressive attacking play, the sides had been tied at 2-3 to 0-9, with Louise Ryan and Aoife McGrath scoring goals for the Waterford girls.
Keane and Eithne Morrissey added late first-half points to leave Clare 1-11 to 2-5 ahead at half time, having played into the breeze. A feature of the opening half was Morrissey’s ability to come deep and win Denise Walsh’s kick-outs. This resulted in Clare winning most of their own kick-outs and easing the pressure on their backs. Just before the halftime whistle, the Cooraclare girl and Waterford’s Gráinne Kenneally were warned following a sustained tussle underneath the stand.
The opening minutes of the second half were marked by Áine Kelly’s second goal, put away after the Fergus Rovers forward pounced on the loose ball, following an Eimear Considine shot, which had been parried.
Just prior to that score, Considine and team captain Henchy had pointed from play. Liscannor substitute Marie Considine added a score to put Clare 2-14 to 2-5 up and apparently in control.
Sandwiched between the aforementioned saves from Denise Walsh, Michelle Ryan buried Waterford’s third goal, followed by points from herself and Sineád Ryan.
Now 2-16 to 3-7 ahead, 10 minutes from full time, Clare were rocking slightly. Their uncertainty was added to when Sineád Eustace was sin binned.
Henchy pointed a great score however, with Eimear Considine clipping over a lovely point soon after. When Eithne Morrissey fired home Clare’s third goal, seven minutes from full time, the result was in the bag. Now 3-17 to 3-7 adrift, there was no way back for Waterford, who did add two further points to their tally.
Denise Walsh excelled in goals throughout the hour, while Sineád Eustace and Sineád Kelly also defended resolutely. Louise Henchy played some dangerous attacking football in midfield, while up front Niamh Keane, Áine Kelly, Eithne Morrissey and Eimear Considine combined class with work rate, to play instrumental roles in Clare’s win.
Twelve months ago Clare were beaten by Tipperary in the All-Ireland final. This time reaching the final won’t carry any significance unless they win it.
Clare: Denise Walsh (St Michael’s, Galway); Sarah Hoey (Banner), Lorraine Kelly (Fergus Rovers), Sineád Eustace (Coolmeen); Michelle Delaney (Banner), Sineád Kelly (West Clare Gaels), Louise Woods (Banner); Louise Henchy (Banner-captain), Fiona Lafferty (Miltown); Eimear Considine (Kilmihil), Eithne Morrissey (Cooraclare), Rachel Lenihan (Crusheen); Áine Kelly (Fergus Rovers), Niamh Keane (Banner), Majella Griffin (West Clare
Subs: Marie Considine (Liscannor) for Rachel Lenihan; Bernie Kelly for Lorraine Kelly; Grace Lynch (Coolmeen) for Sineád Eustace; Anne Marie Callinan (Cooraclare) for Majella Griffin.
Scorers: Áine Kelly 2-2; Niamh Keane 0-5; Eithne Morrissey 1-1; Eimear Considine 0-3; Majella Griffin 0-3, (0-1f); Louise Henchy 0-2; Marie Considine 0-1.
Wides: 9; Frees: 20; Sin Bin: Sineád Eustace
Waterford: Aimee Jordan; Gráinne Enright, Ann Dunphy, Laurissa Hogan; Nora Dunphy, Gráinne
Keneally, Mary Foley; Michelle McGrath, Elaine Power; Maireád Wall, Michelle Ryan (captain), Linda Wall; Aoife McGovern, Sineád Ryan, Louise Ryan.
Subs: Eibhlin Power for Louise Ryan; Maria Delahunty for Aoife McGovern; Ruth Kirwan for Maireád Wall.
Wides: 6; Frees: 32; 45s: 2
Scorers: Michelle Ryan 1-3, (0-1f); Louise Ryan, Aoife McGovern 1-0 each; Sineád Ryan 0-3; Linda Wall, Maireád Wall, Michelle McGrath, 0-1 each.
Referee: Des McEnery (Westmeath).