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*Clare’s Niamh Mulqueen in action. Photograph: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Clare’s Junior camogie side got their 2020 All-Ireland campaign off to a winning start bridging a seven point deficit to win by eight points on Saturday afternoon.

Clare 3-14
Offaly 1-12
Venue: Fr MacNamara Park

Finishing well is much more important than a strong start when it comes to sporting contests and that was evident in abundance at the home of Clare camogie on Saturday. Conditions were certainly a factor with the wind aiding either side’s dominance, the hosts scored 1-11 with the elements in the second half while Offaly notched up 1-07 in the first thirty.

Coined as “COVID cobwebs” by joint manager Ann Marie McGann following the game, Clare appeared to be missing in action for the opening twenty minutes when they failed to register a score but allowed Offaly tap on 1-04. Rachel Brennan raided for goal on fourteen minutes and almost had a second later in the half only for Joanne O’Gorman bravely standing her ground.

A consistent shortcoming on behalf of referees particularly in the world of camogie is the failure to bring a full compliment of match officials. Credit is due to Limerick whistler Kevin O’Brien who had four umpires and two linesman, the importance of which was demonstrated before the water break when he had to make way due to a hamstring injury but the game continued seamlessly with a stand-by referee brought straight into the action.

Kilmaley’s Caoimhe Carmody popped up with Clare’s long awaited first contribution on the scoreboard with twenty two minutes played and had another within sixty two seconds.

When Clare were failing to make inroads on the board, Kate O’Gorman was regularly picking up breaking ball and one such example bore fruition when she launched a high ball into the danger area that was excellently plucked from the sky by corner forward Louise McDonnell who then rounded Niamh Ryan and tapped the sliotar to the back of the net.

Missed chances at the other end from Offaly were beginning to pile up and a fortuitous effort from O’Gorman deceived Ryan and ended up in the back of the net, her Kilkishen clubmate Siobhan Lenihan converted a free to leave Clare trailing by a generous one point at the interval.

Bridin Dinan’s impact from the bench was instant on the restart, the Tulla attacker linked up with Lenihan to get Clare back on level terms, thirty seconds into the second half. Jane Lowry equalised at the other end before the McGann and Tim McGrath managed outfit fired four points without reply.

Lowry who was one of Offaly’s top scorers over the hour was forced off with injury on thirty nine minutes and their cause was dented further when Caoimhe Carmody goaled with a smart bat to the net, ten minutes later.

This effort would effectively kill off the contest as the visitors lost faith, surprising given the nickname attached to their county while Clare added further scores through Carmody, Dinan and Lenihan to secure the coveted win.

Wexford await Clare in the second round, a successive win would see the Banner return to the knockout stages which has been the aim from the beginning of the year. The manner in how the players responded to a poor start was commendable and bodes well as the championship progresses.

Minus some key players, management are now closer to realising what their best fifteen is and it will have to include Bridin Dinan if they are to build on their 2019 showing. Others to impress were Kate O’Gorman, Caoimhe Carmody and Caoimhe Kelly.

Scorers Clare: Siobhan Lenihan (0-07 5f), Caoimhe Carmody (1-03), Kate O’Gorman (1-01), Bridin Dinan (0-03), Louise McDonnell (1-00).

Scorers Offaly: Rachel Brennan (1-04 2f), Jane Lowry (0-05 3f), Dara Hanamy (0-01 1f), Orla Maher (0-01), Siobhan Killeen (0-01).

1: Joanne O’Gorman (Kilkishen)

2: Rebecca Crowe (Ruan)
3: Aoife Foudy (Corofin)
25: Corina McMahon (Corofin)

7: Caoimhe Kelly (Kilkishen)
5: Sarah Ní Cheallaigh (Kilmaley)
4: Ciara O’Dell (Clarecastle)

9: Niamh Mulqueen (Broadford)
8: Sinead O’Keeffe (Kilmaley)

10: Kate O’Gorman (Kilkishen)
11: Niamh O’Gorman (Kilkishen)
12: Siobhan Lenihan (Kilkishen)

13: Louise McDonnell (Ruan)
14: Lauren Tuohy (Clarecastle)
15: Caoimhe Carmody (Kilmaley)

22: Bridin Dinan (Tulla) for Tuohy (HT)
20: Aoife Dillon (Broadford) for McDonnell (57)
18: Chloe Neylon (Kilmaley) for Carmody (59)
21: Lorna Power (Tulla) for McMahon (62)

1: Niamh Ryan

4: Cathy Fogarty
3: Deirdre Cashen
5: Leanne Scully

15: Niamh Killeen
6: Dara Hanamy
7: Megan King

9: Charlotte Quegan
8: Kaitlyn Kennedy

10: Aoife McLoughlin
11: Aoife Walsh
12: Siobhan Killeen

13: Orla Maher
14: Rachel Brennan
20: Jane Lowry

16: Rebecca McGarry for Scully (36)
17: Dawn Whelehan for Lowry (39) (Inj)
19: Sasha Connolly for Fogarty (52)
18: Rachel Scully for Quegan (57)

Referee: Kevin O’Brien (Limerick)

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