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Heartbreak for Banner Ladies in Munster thriller

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*Niamh O’Dea. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Clare ladies senior football champions, Banner, bowed out of the Munster title race when they suffered a one point loss to their Tipperary counterparts, Cahir, in a thrilling contest at St. Michael’s Park in Kilmihil on Friday night.

Cahir (Tipperary) 4-16
Banner Ladies (Clare) 4-15
Venue: St Michael’s Park, Kilmihil

The outcome of this Munster quarter final was in doubt right to the final whistle which came after extra time. This was a contest which had everything, outstanding scores, end to end play and magnificent individual performances on both sides.

Tipperary star Aishling Moloney was the star of the show. She contributed 1-6 of her side’s tally but she had a hand in almost all of their scores. Aisling McCarthy was another of their stars and she finished with 1-4 to her credit.

The Banner had their stars also and none more so that Graine Nolan and Niamh O’Dea. Team captain Nolan emerged as the game’s top scorer with 2-6 to her credit while O’Dea chipped in with 1-4 and both had a part in almost all of their side’s other scores.

The teams exchanged points twice in the opening five minutes before the visitors opened a two point lead. The game’s opening goal came in the eighth minute when Banner full forward Aoibheann Malone found the net after great work by Niamh O’Dea. The Clare champions followed with four unanswered points and at the first water break they led 1-7 to 0-5.

Louise Woods put them six clear when play resumed but Cahir came storming back and Aisling McCarthy struck for their first goal which was quickly cancelled out by a superb Niamh O’Dea major.

Cahir finished the half strongly and after they hit three unanswered points, Roisin Howard found the net to give them a one point lead, 2-9 to 2-8, at half time.

The sides exchanged points on the resumption before Grainne Nolan was on hand to shoot to the net after Niamh O’Dea had created the opening. O’Dea followed with a brace of points and the Banner were four clear, 3-11 to 2-10.

Cahir landed a brace to cut the Banner lead to two but the Ennis based outfit responded with excellent scores from Grainne Nolan and centre back Laurie Ryan to lead by four with full time approaching.

An outstanding goal from Aishling Moloney in the final minute left the minimum between the sides and Aisling McCarthy sent the game to extra time when she converted a 30m free with the last kick of the game.

Cahir had the better of matters in the first half of extra time when they added 1-3 while conceding just a point. Moloney created the opening for the goal which came from substitute Niamh Costigan and it helped the visitors to a 4-16 to 3-14 lead at half time in extra time.

Four minutes into the second period of extra time the Banner were right back in contention after team captain Nolan struck for her second goal which came following great work by Laurie Ryan and Louise Henchy.

Nolan quickly followed with a point from a free but try as they did they could not get back in terms. Niamh O’Dea saw her effort in the closing minutes swing narrowly wide.

Ashling Moloney and Ashling McCarthy were the standout performers for the winners while Aoife Corcoran, Aoife Casey, and Anna Downey also did well.

For the Clare champions, Grainne Nolan, Niamh O’Dea, Laurie Ryan and Louise Henchy worked tirelessly throughout.

Scorers Cahir: A Moloney (1-6, 0-4 frees) A. McCarthy (1-4, O-1 free); R. Howard (1-2); N. Costigan (1-0); A. Downey, R. Kiely (0-2) each.

Scorers Banner: Grainne Nolan (2-6, O-2 frees); Niamh O’Dea (1-4); Aoibheann Malone (1-1); Louise Woods, Niamh Keane, Laurie Ryan, Aoibhin Ryan (0-1) each

Cahir:
Niamh Murphy

Geraldine O’Donnell
Aoife Casey
Rachel O’Donnell

Eileen Flannery
Aoife Corcoran
Emma Buckley(captain)

Clara Fahey
Aishling Moloney

Roisin Howard
Rosanna Kiely
Anna Downey

Anne Marie O’Gorman
Aisling McCarthy
Aoife O’Donnell;

Subs:
Niamh Costigan for O’Donnell (half time)
Leah Fitzgerald for Downey (56)
Emma Casey for G. O’Donnell (inj) (58)
Aoife Cashman for Fahey (75)
Orla McEniry for AM O’Gorman (inj) (79)

Banner:
Tara McInerney

Sinead O’Keeffe
Clare Hehir
Siobhan McMahon

Laoise Ryan
Laurie Ryan
Sinead Power

Niamh O’Dea
Louise Woods

Louise Henchy
Grainne Nolan (captain)
Ciara Corbett

Niamh Keane
Aoibheann Malone
Aoibhin Ryan.

Subs:
Sarah Ni Cheallaigh for Power(42)
Eva O’Dea for Laoise Ryan (44)
Orlaith Lynch for Hehir (55)
Karen Roche for A. Ryan (55)
Emily Cahill for Keane(extra time).

Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Limerick)

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