Kildare 2-11 Clare 2-10
Clare’s Lilywhite hoodoo continued to haunt in Croke Park after seeing their late backlash come up agonisingly short at the death, writes Eoin Brennan.
Having failed to reach the heights of previous displays for the majority, the Banner sprung to life with a rousing brace of goals for chief threats Fidelma Marrinan and Chloe Moloney to slash an eight point deficit to just the minimum by the 55th minute.
However, despite further opportunities including a last gasp Fidelma Marrinan free from 45 metres, Wayne Freeman’s side simply couldn’t locate an equalising score to force extra-time.
Clare’s electric finish was in contrast to a stuttering first half showing that saw Clare start brightly with a brace of Marrinan frees but falter significantly after two timely goals for Trina Duggan and Ellen Dowling.
Having previously been opened up by Claire Sullivan’s overlapping run and shot that cannoned off the crossbar while Amy Lenihan somehow repelled Neasa Dooley’s rebound, Clare failed to heed that warning sign as two minutes later, their goal would finally be breached.
Stemming from a teasing Dooley delivery over the top, Trina Duggan sidestepped the last defender and nestled her shot in the left corner of the net.
Bookended by there Roisin Byrne points, a buoyant Kildare got an even greater boost in the 20th minute when Ellen Dowling intercepted a kick-out to kick to an empty net as Kildare soared to a 2-6 to 0-5 interval lead.
The only way was up for Clare but try as they might, mainly through the tireless running of Laurie Ryan, Caoimhe Harvey, Cliodhna Blake and Aisling Reidy, the Munster side simply couldn’t breach that two goal cushion.
Aisling Reidy did have a glorious opportunity at the three-quarters mark but after being put through by Marrinan her shot just cleared to the top left corner.
Instead, points through Dooley and Dowling extended the gap to eight entering the final ten minutes, with Clare destined to concede second best.
However, a slice of fortune would finally ignite a Banner backlash in the 52nd minute when Chloe Moloney’s free from the right was parried by goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine into the path of Fidelma Marrinan to flick to the net.
Suddenly there was a sea-change in Clare as their intensity levels ramped up before a second goal arrived in timely fashion in the 55th minute when Chloe Moloney got the perfect connection to a Ciara McCarthy delivery to steer her flick beyond the reaches of the Kildare goalkeeper and leave only a solitary point between the sides.
Kildare refused to yield though and admirably dug deep to ensure that Clare could not regain full parity as Fidelma Marrinan’s last gas free had barely landed near the goalmouth when the full-time buzzer unfortunately sounded.
Clare: Amy Lenihan (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield); Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels), Siofra Ní Chonaill (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Aine Keane (Miltown Malbay); Louise Griffin (Fergus Rovers), Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels) (Captain),Orla Devitt (Éire Óg); Aisling Reidy (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Cliodhna Blake (Doonbeg); Laurie Ryan (Banner Ladies), Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels), Caoimhe Cahill (Banner Ladies); Amy Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Chloe Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane), Laura Griffey (Burren Gaels).
Subs: Megan Downes (Cooraclare) for Griffin (12), CiaraMcCarthy (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Griffey (39), Roisin Looney (Cooraclare) for Griffey (44), Sinead Considine (Liscannor) for Sexton (48), Joanna Doohan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Devitt (57)
Scorers: Fidelma Marrinan (1-5, 5f); Chloe Moloney (-3, 3f), Cliodhna Blake (0-2)
Kildare: Mary Hulgraine (Moorefield); Lauren Burke (Naas), Laoise Lenehan (Kill), Aoife Clifford (Eadestown); Lauren Murtagh (Milltown), Ruth Sargent (Eadestown), Lara Gilbert (KIldangan Nurney); Grace Clifford (Eadestown) (Captain), Aoife Rattigan (Cappagh); Claire Sullivan (Carbury), Ellen Dowling (Suncroft), Trina Duggan (Suncroft); Neasa Dooley (Athy), Roisin Byrne (Sarsfields), Lara Curran (Milltown)
Subs: Grainne Kenneally (Eadestown) for Duggan (41), MiaDoherty (Leixlip) for Rattigan (46), Fiona Troute (Athy) for Burke (46, inj), Orlaith Sullivan (Carbury) for Curran (51)
Scorers: Roisin Byrne (0-7, 5f); Ellen Dowling (1-1); TrinaDuggan (1-0); Neasa Dooley (0-2); Lara Gilbert (0-1)
Referee: Gus Chapman (Sligo)