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 to 0-1 after a mere nine minutes. Niamh O’Dea scored 1-3 of this early return, with impressive wing-back Orlaith Lynch kicking two points from play.
O’Dea pointed seconds after the opening whistle, picking up a Niamh Keane pass after she had won the throw-in. Having won the kick-out, Banner could have goaled when Sue Higgins’ shot was saved magnificently by Jean O’Sullivan, who turned it around for a 45’.
However, seconds after Caoimhe Creedon pointed St Val’s opening score from a free, Higgins placed Niamh O’Dea for her goal. Naomi Carroll and Katie Cahill had started the move.
O’Dea won and pointed a brace of frees, in addition to Lynch’s scores, establishing an early seven-point advantage for the champions.
However, St Val’s upped their game at this juncture and come the interval, trailed by just two points, 1-7 to 1-5.
Jane Lucey netted for the Cork girls in the 12th minute after playing a one-two with Creedon. Emma O’Driscoll, who later made match-winning saves from Aoife Plunkett and Louise Coholan, nearly saved Lucey’s shot but it evaded the grasp of the Kildysart National School teacher.
Naomi Carroll and Orlaith Lynch again scored the Banner’s remaining first-half points, while Creedon, Claire Byrne and Aoife Plunkett pointed for St Val’s.
Such was Niamh O’Dea’s threat, the Cork management moved Briege Corkery on to her, while regular full-back Marie Ambrose doubled up on the Banner full-forward.
O’Dea should have netted in the first attack of the second half. She broke through but St Val’s goalkeeper Jean O’Sullivan saved her placed effort at the expense of a 45’.
Neither team scored until the ninth minute when substitute Aoife Keane pointed, having been set up by O’Dea and Carroll. A minute later, the Banner went four points up, 1-9 to 1-5, after O’Dea kicked a free won by centre-forward Aoibhainn Malone.
The heat was really rising at this stage. Successive points from Caoimhe Creedon reduced the deficit to two, 13 minutes from time.
Wing-forward Grбinne Nolan and Malone then landed critical scores from play for the Banner. However, Creedon and Jane Lucey responded with like scores. The Banner still led by two points, 1-11 to 1-9, but St Val’s were pressing hard.
Six minutes from time, Emma O’Driscoll made the second of her crucial stops, displaying bravery and athleticism and deflected a Louise Coholan rocket over the crossbar.
Come the 60th minute a Karen Roche score, sandwiched between two Creedon points, left the teams tied at 1-12 apiece. Creedon’s equaliser from play was a sublime score. The same player had the chance to win it for her club but that was the free that drifted wide.
A minute later, Cahill showed admirable composure and skill to finish a barnstorming move started by Niamh O’Dea and including a vital contribution from Aoife Keane, whose final pass placed Cahill.
Kilmallock shook, such was the Banner’s uproarious reaction to their historic win. The club has won many underage and Clare adult titles since it was established in 1994 but this topped everything.
Every player contributed hugely but Niamh O’Dea, Orlaith Lynch, Louise Woods, Naomi Carroll, Louise Henchy and Niamh Keane were especially magnificent.
The Clare and Munster champions will play Fiona Lafferty’s Donaghmoyne in the All-Ireland semi-final in the coming weeks.
Banner Ladies: Emma O’Driscoll; Eva O’Dea, Laurie Ryan, Niamh Cavanagh; Louise Woods, Sinéad Quinn, Orlaith Lynch; Louise Henchy, Niamh Keane; Gráinne Nolan, Aoibhainn Malone, Naomi Carroll; Katie Cahill, Niamh O’Dea, Sue Higgins.
Subs: Aoife Keane for Sue Higgins (36), Karen Roche for Aoibhainn Malone (55) and Sinéad O’Keeffe for Orlaith Lynch.
Frees: 20; wides: 4; 45s: 1.
Scorers: Niamh O’Dea (1-4, 3f), Orlaith Lynch (0-3), Naomi Carroll, Aoife Keane, Gráinne Nolan, Aoibhainn Malone, Karen Roche and Katie Cahill (0-1 each).
St Valentine’s: Jean O’Sullivan; Sinéad Cotter, Marie Ambrose, Liz Coholan; Eva Dunne, Claire Ambrose, Vera Foley; Louise Coholan, Niamh Canty; Claire Byrne, Jean Lucey, Briege Corkery; Mairéad Corkey, Caoimhe Creedon, Aoife Plunkett.
Subs: Becky Henningan for Claire Byrne and Fiona Crowley for Niamh Canty (both 36).
Scorers: Caoimhe Creedon (0-8, 4f), Jean Lucey (1-1), Claire Byrne (f), Aoife Plunkett and Louise Coholan (0-1 each).
Frees: 23; wides: 10; 45s: 1.
Referee: Keith Delahunty, Tipperary.