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Niamh O'Dea. Photograph by John Kelly.

O’Dea inspires Clare ladies to a winning start

Clare 2-17 Down 1-9

Inspired by an outstanding performance from full forward Niamh O’Dea who finished with 2-8 to her name, Clare got their All-Ireland intermediate ladies football championship campaign off to a winning start at Kinnegad this afternoon.

Forced into two late changes to their starting line up with the loss of midfielder Roisin Looney and forward Catriona Callinan to injury, Clare took a while to settle.

Looney was ruled out with a hamstring injury while Callinan sustained a broken hand in a challenge match last week which will keep her out of action for the duration of the group stage at least

The game was just half a minute old when Eimear Keane pointed the Clare side into a lead they would hold throughout and this was quickly doubled when Niamh O’Dea had her opening score. It was 0-6 to 0-3 after fifteen minutes and five minutes later Kilfenora native O’Dea, who plays her club football with the Banner, fired home the game’s opening goal.

Just before the half time whistle the ulster side were given a boost when they got through for a goal from Grainne McClean which left three points between the teams at the interval, 1-7 to 1-4 in Clare’s favour.

Three Niamh O’Dea points inside five minutes of the second half left Down with a big task on their hands and this task was made much greater when O’Dea dispossessed the down goalkeeper to fire home the team’s second goal eleven minutes into the half. Nine points now separated he sides and Clare held the upperhand in the key areas.

Points were exchanged three times in the next fifteen minutes before Clare concluded with three in a row to seal victory on a day when team captain Laurie Ryan, Louise Woods and Fidelma Marrinan gave most support to the outstanding Niamh O’Dea.

Clare; Grace Lynch (Cul Gaels); Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels), Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil), Laura Egan (Kilmihil); Roisin Considine (Liscannor), Laurie Ryan (Banner) Captain, Carol O’Leary (Newmarket) 0-1; Eimear O’Connor (Cul Gaels), Louise Woods (Banner); Orla Devitt (Eire Og), Eimear Keane (Miltown) 0-3 Caoimhe Harvey(West Clare Gaels) 0-1 ; Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels) 0-3, Niamh O’Dea (Banner) 2-8, Cliodhna Blake (Doonbeg);

Subs; Siofra Ni Chonail (St. Josephs) for Egan;; Aine Kelly (Fergus Rovers) 0-1 for Blake; Clare Hester(Fergus rovers) for O’Connor; Aine Keane (Miltown) for Marrinan; Aisling Morrissey (Cooraclare) for G. Harvey

Down; Aisling Burke; Laoise Duffy, Orla Boyle, Clara Laverty; Cassie Moane, Ciara Mulvana, Aimee Greene; Kate McKay, Kyla Trainer; Megan O’Boyle, Grainne McClean (1-6, 0-5 frees), Jessica Fay; Bree McKay (0-1), Natasha Ferns (0-2), Megan Doherty ;

Subs; Sarah Doherty for McClean; Jenny Fitzsimons for McKee; Aisling Flynn for O’Boyle; Maria McCann for Moone;

Referee; Des McEnery, Westmeath

By Seamus Hayes

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