Clare 3-10 Fermanagh 1-12
Lucky to be tied 0-5 each at half time, Clare rattled in three second half goals in Parnell Park on Saturday afternoon, which helped to secure the NFL Division 3 title.
The first of these goals, netted by Marie Considine, six minutes into the second half, was the score that set Clare up for victory. Eimear Considine, who flew by helicopter to Dublin after sitting an early exam at UL, found Niamh O’Dea with a cross-field ball. The Kilfenora girl ran at Fermanagh before laying off to Marie Considine, who scored with a low left foot shot.
That score put Clare 1-6 to 0-6 ahead but, while they stayed in control from there on, Fermanagh didn’t stop trying to get back in the game.
While Clare upped their performance considerably in the second half, their first half display was very patchy. Were it not for the paucity of their shooting, Fermanagh would definitely have been ahead at the interval. They kicked seven wides and Marcella Connolly being sin binned after ten minutes didn’t help them either. The Fermanagh midfielder was yellow carded following a tackle on Eimear O’Connor.
Clare struggled to contain centre-forward Sharon Little, who scored four of the Ulster team’s first-half points, with Aisling Moane scoring their fifth.
Niamh O’Dea, who had an outstanding game, kicked three first half points, with player of the match Louise Henchy notching two.
O’Dea produced two good saves from Roisín Gleeson, who also saved a rebound from Naomi Carroll. Eimear Considine shot across goal, having made space after a probing run down the right.
Just before half-time Clare captain Niamh Keane was yellow carded having attempted to dispossess Caroline Little. Keane had found it difficult to get into the game, with Fermanagh centre-back Tara Little playing well in the first half.
Tied at 0-5, Niamh O’Dea kicked another point within the opening minute of the second half with Caroline Little replying from a free.
Marie Considine’s goal helped Clare to settle, although Marcella Connolly and Caroline Little replied with two immediate points.
Shortly after Naomi Carroll pointed from a rebound off an Eimear Considine shot, Considine struck for a superb goal. The Kilmihil girl ran onto a perceptive through ball from Niamh Keane, back from the sin bin, and rammed the ball into the roof of Roisín Gleeson’s net. Now 2-7 to 0-8 in front 12 minutes into the second half, Clare were virtually coasting.
The Considine sisters pointed a score each, with Caroline Little twice and Marcella Connolly responding. Seven minutes from full-time, Niamh O’Dea made sure that Clare would win, when she brought a Louise Henchy delivery down from the sky, while surrounded by Fermanagh defenders. The Clare full forward then stroked the ball to the net and although Sharon Little scored a late Fermanagh goal, the result was tied up at that stage.
When Clare were under pressure and not clicking in the opening half, Emma O’Driscoll, Lorraine Kelly, Louise Henchy and Niamh O’Dea kept them ticking over. Eimear Considine showed her class after half-time while Ailish Considine also did well following her interval introduction.
Louise Henchy was nominated as player of the match but Niamh O’Dea would have been an equally deserving winner.
The Littles, Sharon, Caroline and Tara, gave everything for Fermanagh as did Marcella Connolly.
Clare’s next game will be in the Munster championship against Division 1 league champions Cork in mid-June.
Clare: Emma O’Driscoll. Claire Hester, Lorraine Kelly, Laurie Ryan; Eimear O’Connor, Róisín McMahon, Louise Woods; Marie Considine, Louise Henchy; Colette Corry, Niamh Keane (captain), Naomi Carroll; Eimear Considine, Niamh O’Dea, Sarah Bohannon.
Subs: Ailish Considine for Colette Corry (half time), Katie Geoghegan for Naomi Carroll (53), Sineád Eustace for Sarah Bohannon (55), Carmel Considine for Claire Hester (59), Carol O’Leary for Niamh O’Dea (62).
Scorers: Niamh O’Dea (1-5, 0-2f), Eimear Considine (1-1), Marie Considine (1-0), Louise Henchy (0-2, 1f), Naomi Carroll, Ailish Considine (0-1 each).
Wides: 7 Frees won: 28 45s: 1
Sin bin: Niamh Keane (30).
Fermanagh: Roisín Gleeson; Claire Woods, Nuala Curran, Orla Reihill; Dervla Murphy, Tara Little, Patricia Melanaphy; Marcella Connolly, Aisling Moane; Shauna Hamilton, Sharon Little, Lisa McFrederick; Nuala McManus, Caroline Little, Áine McBrien.
Subs: Kayleigh McManus for Shauna Hamilton (37), Joanne Doonan for Lisa McFrederick (46), Rita O’Reilly for Claire Woods (57), Aisling Maguire for Nuala McManus (58), Lisa Slevin for Patricia Melanaphy (59).
Scorers: Sharon Little (1-4, 0-1f), Caroline Little (0-5f), Marcella Connolly (0-2), Aisling Moane (0-1).
Wides: 8 Frees: 20 45s: 1
Sin bin: Marcella Connolly (10).
Referee: Des McEnery (Westmeath).