A LATE rally from Clare was not enough to see them overcome Kilkenny in round two of the Littlewoods Ireland National Camogie League.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Clare hit three of the last four scores on Saturday afternoon but it didn’t change the outcome with the hosts suffering defeat for the second week in a row following their opening round loss to Cork, also played in Cusack Park.
While defeat is never seen as a positive outcome, for this Clare side it can arguably be viewed as a good result as their team and panel is considerably weaker than previous seasons. That said, the Banner have been noted for causing upsets against Kilkenny including a 2020 win in Nowlan Park during Ger O’Connell’s three year tenure as manager and also a championship draw under Patricia O’Grady’s watch prior to that.
From the different set-ups, Clare’s attacking threat has notably become weaker with an over-reliance evident on scores from placed balls. This simply must be strengthened if any progression is to be visible. On this occasion, Clare managed to score in the second half unlike their eight point first round loss to Cork last weekend.
Defensively a loose approach in the half-back line and midfield was exploited by Kilkenny runners and this was reason alone for wing-back Kellyann Doyle slotting 0-02 from play.
Last weekend, the clash between joint manager Conor Dolan and Cork coach Davy Fitzgerald was the main talking point, the pair getting sent to the stands in the final five minutes of the game. The drama was not to that extent but joint manager John Carmody was spoken to twice by referee Andy Larkin in the first quarter, Carmody and maor foirne Colm Fitzgerald voicing annoyance with the free count inside the opening ten minutes.
Inroads made in the first twenty minutes came undone when Miriam Walsh goaled for the visitors on twenty three minutes. Clare had led on three separate occasions up to this but following the green flag they would stay behind for the remainder of the game.
Goalkeeper Doireann Murphy denied Denise Gaule from a penalty with six minutes on the clock and Gaule was afforded another penalty in the second half which she blazed over the crossbar. Murphy made an even better save on forty minutes to deny Katie Nolan a certain green flag. Three penalties have been conceded by the Clare defence in two games.
Substitute Stacy Fitzgerald put Kilkenny 1-07 0-07 ahead on fifty one minutes but credit to Clare, they finished strong with Lorna McNamara and Eimear Kelly converting efforts but ultimately a drop in tempo on the restart stands out as a period when they could have managed to gain a foothold in proceedings once again.
Following an impressive club campaign for Kilmaley in 2020, it was surprising that Caoimhe Carmody received little game-time under O’Connell last season. She made a statement in this contest with an industrious display that also saw her finish as Clare’s top scorer. Zi Yan Spillane and Lorna McNamara also did well for the hosts.
Kilkenny appeared to not be at their best, understandable given that it is only the end of February but they seemed comfortable for the majority of the contest and didn’t need to get into fifth gear. Katie Power, Kellyann Doyle, Miriam Walsh and Grace Walsh were prominent for Brian Dowling’s charges.
Clare’s juniors recorded a comfortable win over Derry played at Fr McNamara Park.
Scorers Kilkenny: M Walsh (1-00), K Doyle (0-02), D Gaule (0-02 1’Pen, 1f), K Nolan (0-01), L Norris (0-01), S Fitzgerald (0-01), K Power (0-01).
Scorers Clare: L McNamara (0-04 3f), C Carmody (0-03), E Kelly (0-02), A O’Loughlin (0-01).
1: Aoife Norris (Piltown)
2: Sarah Crowley (Mooncoin)
3: Tiffany Fitzgerald (Young Irelands)
4: Grace Walsh (Tullaroan)
6: Kellyanne Doyle (Piltown)
5: Claire Phelan (Lisdowney)
7: Lydia Fitzpatrick (St Lachtains)
9: Julianne Malone (Mullinavat)
10: Niamh Deely (James Stephens)
14: Katie Power (Piltown)
8: Denise Gaule (Windgap)
11: Laura Norris (Piltown)
13: Steffi Fitzgerald (Young Irelands)
12: Miriam Walsh (Tullaroan)
15: Katie Nolan (St Martins)
17: Aoife Prendergast (Dicksboro) for Malone (42)
18: Aoife Doyle (Piltown) for L Norris (47)
19: Mary O’Connell (Clara) for Nolan (54)
1: Doireann Murphy (Clarecastle)
4: Ciara Grogan (Clooney/Quin)
3: Clare Hehir (Inagh/Kilnamona)
2: Caoimhe Kelly (Sixmilebridge)
7: Aoife Keane (Inagh/Kilnamona)
6: Chloe Morey (Sixmilebridge)
5: Alannah Ryan (Kilkishen)
8: Regan Conway (Feakle/Killanena)
9: Caoimhe Carmody (Kilmaley)
10: Robyn Conway (Feakle/Killanena)
11: Eimear Kelly (Truagh/Clonlara)
12: Zi Yan Spillane (Feakle/Killanena)
13: Lorna McNamara (Feakle/Killanena)
14: Áine O’Loughlin (Truagh/Clonlara)
15: Shauna Canny (Feakle/Killanena)
18: Susan Daly (Scariff/Ogonnelloe) for Regan Conway (39)
17: Lynda Daly (Scariff/Ogonnelloe) for Canny (52)
Referee: Andy Larkin (Cork)