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6 April 2024; Clare players celebrate with the cup after the Lidl LGFA National League Division 3 final match between Clare and Roscommon at St Brendan’s Park in Birr, Offaly. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

Clare hold on to secure league glory

Lidl Ladies’ NFL Division 3
1-6 Roscommon 1-4

By Ivan Smyth

At Grant Heating St. Brendan’s Park, Birr

Clare were crowned National League Division 3 champions as a rock solid opening all against the breeze paved the way for the winners to survive a late Roscommon fightback.

After losing out in last year’s decider while also coming up short in the Intermediate final, this will be a sweet victory for Wayne Freeman’s side on a day when they were full value for their win with a 59th minute Ashling Hanly goal proving only a consolation.

The Clare defence was rock solid with Laurie Ryan effective as the spare player in defence while Siofra Chonaill did an excellent job on Hanly once the Roscommon dynamo relocated to the edge of the square in the second quarter.

Wayne Freeman’s side laid the platform for this victory when they were deadlocked with their Connacht opponents, 1-1 to 0-4 at the interval. Clare had played against a gale in the opening half yet could have led at the interval having seen three goal chances go abegging.

However, they controlled possession for large stages of the first period against a defensive Roscommon outfit. The league champions started much the quicker and carved out two goal chances in the opening exchanges.

Aisling Reidy exerted her influence upon proceedings as she combined with Ailish Considine and Louise Griffin to set Teresa Collins through. However, Helena Cummins got down bravely to deny the forward before the Roscommon ‘keeper needed to be alert to deal with a Róisín Considine loopy effort on goal.

Roscommon’s top scorer in the league Laura Fleming opened the scoring after Kate Nolan was felled in the third minute but the Banner continued to control possession albeit they found the gale force breeze tricky to judge. Fidelma Marrinan operated on the ’45 and was followed everywhere by Roscommon centre back Saoirse Wynne although the Clare dynamo’s influence grew as the game progressed.

Clare found the breakthrough as the first quarter ended. An incisive Caoimhe Harvey run saw the West Clare Gaels woman offload to Laurie Ryan who flashed a pass for AilsihConsidine. The former AFLW player dispatched to the bottom corner of the net for a decisive goal.

Roscommon finished the half strong as despite losing dangerous forward Aisling Feeley to a knee injury, two Laura Fleming frees while the energetic Aisling Reidy slotted over a fine score after being teed up by Teresa Collins. Reidy came within inches of giving Clare a second goal as after being set up following another incisive Caoimhe Harvey surge, the Doora Barefield woman saw her poked effort beat Cummins but skim the post with Rachel Fitzmaurice preventing the ball from crossing the line. This meant Clare were forced to be content with parity at the break.

In the final period, Clare continued to look the sharper side up front with Amy Sexton denied a crack at goal following a brave block by Roscommon’s Aisling Shanagher in the 33rdminute.

Clare began to pin Ollie Lennon’s side deep in their own territory as they won three successive Roscommon kickouts. The pressure began to tell as Ailish Considine arrowed over a sweet left footed effort before Ciara MacCarthy added to her side’s tally with her first touch after being summoned from the bench.

The winners almost moved this game beyond Roscommon when Considine stormed through but she was denied by a fine low Cummins save. In a dominant third quarter, Considine pushed the gap to three before Reidy and the impressive McCarthy (free) gave Clarw a five point cushion.

They should have put this game out of sight as Clare controlled proceedings but they were given a late scare when Hanly netted late on as the winners felt Fidelma Marrinan had been fouled before Roscommon pieced together an attacking move of real quality to see Hanly fire home.

Despite Caoimhe Harvey being sent to the sin bin with 16 seconds remaining, Clare did enough to secure league glory and atone for last year’s heartbreaking defeat to Kildare.

Clare: Amy Lenihan (Doora-Barefield); Gráinne Harvey(West Clare Gaels), Siofra Chonaill (Doora Barefield), Róisín Considine (Tir Chonaill Gaels); Louise Griffin (Fergus Rovers), Joanna Doohan (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Laurie Ryan(Banner); Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels), Aisling Reidy(Doora Barefield); Louise Griffin (Fergus Rovers), Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels), Sinéad Considine (Liscannor); Amy Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Teresa Collins (Burren Gaels), Ailish Considine (Kilmihil).

Subs: Ciara McCarthy (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Griffin (38), Orla Devitt (Eire Og) for Sexton (46), Laura Griffey (Burren Gaels) for Collins (48), Katie Mullen (Kilmihil) for R. Considine (55).

Scorers: Ailish Considine 1-2 (1f), Aisling Reidy and Ciara McCarthy (1f) 0-2 each,

Roscommon: Helena Cummins; Aisling Shanagher, Ellen Irwin, Áine McGrath; Rachel Fitzmaurice, Saoirse Wynne, Judy McDermott; Laura Fleming, Lisa O’Rourke; Lauren Shanagher, Aisling Hanly, Caoimhe Cregg; Aisling MacAuliffe, Kate Nolan, Aisling Feeley.

Subs: Sinead Farrell for Feeley (13 mins, inj), Niamh Feeeney for MacAuliffe (40), Ella Thompson for McDermott (42), Aimee O’Connor for L. Shanagher (51), Aoife Gavin for Nolan (57).

Scorers: Laura Fleming 0-4 (4f), Aisling Hanly 1-0.

Referee: Barry Redmond (Wexford).

About Ivan Smyth

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