AN impressive second-half display, during which Clare outscored Tipperary 2-12 to 0-1, secured a Munster final berth for the home county against Cork on July 3.
While they were playing into a fairly strong breeze, conditions didn’t fully explain Clare’s lethargic first-half display in front of goal. They missed several first-half chances as Tipperary raced into a 1-4 to 0-1 lead. Louise Henchy, who kicked five points in total, slotted over Clare’s only first-half point from play. Trailing 2-4 to 0-1 with half-time approaching, Clare needed a score and it was Áine Kelly who provided a crucial goal just before the interval, while Niamh O’Dea pointed a free.
Relieved to be back in touch, Clare played some impressive attacking football early in the second half and reeled off five successive points with Kelly, Henchy, Marie Considine, Niamh Keane and O’Dea pointing. The sides were now level at 2-4 to Clare’s 1-7, when Eimear Considine netted Clare’s second goal. Clare then added several additional points to ease away from Tipperary, who beat them in the 2008 All-Ireland intermediate final and in the counties’ Division 2 meeting in Meelick in February.
O’Dea rolled in Clare’s third goal, late in the half when she went around the Tipperary goalkeeper Patricia Hickey. Following their All-Ireland intermediate success last September, Clare have made an impressive start as a senior championship team.
However, on Saturday week they will face their most stringent test yet when they take on All-Ireland champions, Cork in the Munster final in Castletownroche.
At the time of writing, a decision had yet to be made as regards the club championship fixtures that are due to go ahead this weekend in Clare. However, it is likely that the Clare management team won’t want their panel playing club championship fixtures just a week before a Munster senior final.
Clare last won a Munster title at this level in 2001, when they defeated Waterford. Cork defeated Kerry 2-8 to 1-6 in last weekend’s second semi-final. When Cork and Kerry met last season in the Munster final, the Rebellettes romped to a 24-point win in Bruff.
Clare: Emma O’Driscoll (Banner); Sineád Eustace (Coolmeen, captain), Lorraine Kelly (Fergus Rovers), Laurie Ryan (Banner); Michelle Delaney (Banner), Sineád Kelly (West Clare Gaels), Eimear O’Connor (Coolmeen); Louise Henchy (Banner), Fiona Lafferty (Miltown); Marie Considine (Liscannor), Niamh Keane (Banner), Eimear Considine (Kilmihil); Áine Kelly (Fergus Rovers), Niamh O’Dea (Banner), Rachel Lenihan (Crusheen).
Subs: Sarah Hoey (Banner) for Eimear O’Connor, Grace Lynch (Coolmeen) for Rachel Lenihan, Colette Corry (Shannon Gaels) for Niamh O’Dea and Sinéad Moloney (Coolmeen) for Áine Kelly.
Scorers: Louise Henchy (0-5), Áine Kelly and Niamh O’Dea (1-2) each, Niamh Keane (0-3), Eimear Considine (1-0), Marie Considine and Eimear O’Connor (0-1) each.
Tipperary: Patricia Hickey; Aoife O’Dwyer, Maeve Corcoran, Samantha Lambert; Barbara Ryan, Carmel Condon, Anne O’Dwyer; Angie McDermott, Claire Carroll; Jennifer Grant, Teresa McManus, Edel Carroll; Gillian O’Brien, Anne Marie O’Gorman, Mairéad Morrissey.