All-Ireland Ladies Intermediate Football Quarter-Final: Tipperary 1-13 Clare 2-8
1-8 from Aishling Moloney helped Tipperary overcome a brave Clare challenge to book their spot in the last four of the All-Ireland series.
It was a cruel finish on a Banner outfit that fought back brilliantly after a poor start to lead by 2-8 to 1-9 inside the final quarter.
The chance for the killer blow fell to Tara Kelly with eight minutes left to play but she could not find a way past Tipperary net-minder Lauren Fitzpatrick. The Premier side hit Clare on the counter-attack, and Moloney sent over the point that moved her side one clear. She added another from a difficult free soon after, and despite late Clare pressure they just could not find the green flag that would have seen them through.
Tipperary enjoyed a dream start to the game as they raced 1-2 to 0-0 clear inside the opening ten minutes. They went for the jugular early and were almost in for the opening goal within minutes but Clare captain Laurie Ryan took the ball off her own line. Opening points from Orla O’Dwyer and Ava Fennessey settled Tipperary into the contest, but a bigger score was coming when Moloney rifled home a penalty following a foul on Angela McGuigan.
Playing with the aid of a strong breeze, Clare were finding it difficult to break a congested middle third. Roisin Looney found a way through the cover and it was Caoimhe Harvey who fed Roisin Considine to send over Clare’s opening score. Moloney’s direct running was causing plenty problems for the Clare defence and she slalomed through to set up O’Dwyer for her second point of the contest to see Tipp 1-3 to 0-1 clear after the opening quarter.
Clare were beginning to hit their stride and a brilliant angled cross-field pass from Ailish Considine found Niamh O’Dea in space. She had only one thing on her mind as she left the Tipperary defence in her wake before rounding the goalkeeper and finishing to the net. Considine got her name on the score-sheet soon after with an excellent strike from distance to cut the gap to one.
Moloney accounted for all bar three of her sides scores on the day and she notched two more before the break, but well worked scores from O’Dea and Eimear O’Connor saw just the minimum between the sides at half-time.
It might have been a sign of things to come that the belt of rain which arrived at half-time killed the strong breeze somewhat which would have been in Tipperary’s favour. Clare took full advantage to outscore their opponents by 0-4 to 0-1 in the early stages and move into the lead for the first time in the contest.
Fidelma Marrinan was first off the mark as she fired over from a tight angle to level the contest, while Grainne Nolan edged her side in front after a well-worked short 45m free. Considine and O’Dea combined once more for the Kilfenora native to spilt the posts, and it was O’Dea and Moloney who then traded scores to leave Clare 1-8 to 1-6 ahead.
Tipperary hit back with three in a row as Aisling McCarthy twice punished poor clearances with scores, and Moloney profited from good work by O’Dwyer to hand the initiative and the lead back to the Munster champions.
Clare showed great hunger to come storming back into the contest and it was inevitably O’Dea who would find the net once more. A perceptive pass over the top from Aisling Reidy bounced between O’Dea and the on-rushing goal-keeper, and the Banner Ladies club-woman bravely got her fist to the ball to knock it into the net.
It set up a dramatic last quarter, but four unanswered from Moloney would ultimately seal Clare’s fate. She would spend the closing stages on the sideline after being sin-binned, but while Clare piled on the pressure, the Tipperary defence stood firm to advance.
Clare: Ciara Harvey (West Clare Gaels); Aine Keane (Miltown), Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil), Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels); Aisline Reidy (Doora Barefield), Laurie Ryan (Banner, c), Siofra Ní Chonaill (Doora Barefield); Roisin Looney (Cooraclare), Eimear O’Connor (Cuil Gaels); Roisin Considine (Liscannor), Ailish Considine (Kilmihil), Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels); Grainne Nolan (Banner), Niamh O’Dea (Banner), Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels).
Subs: Orla Devitt (Eire Óg) for Looney, Tara Kelly (Cuil Gaels) for O’Connor, Sarah Bohannon (Cuil Gaels) for Ní Chonaill.
Scorers: Niamh O’Dea (2-3), Grainne Nolan, Ailish Considine, Fidelma Marrinan, Eimear O’Connor and Roisin Considine (0-1 each).
Ref: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry).