Clare cemented a place in the business end of the All-Ireland Intermediate Championship for a seventh successive season after a convincing victory over Fermanagh on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Glennon Brothers Pearse Park, Longford
Following a shock opening reverse against Leitrim, a determined Clare were a much more cohesive and efficient side this time around, leading from start to finish without ever appearing in trouble at any stage.
The inside threat of Niamh O’Dea and Chloe Moloney alone signalled danger for a Fermanagh side that were just up from junior level, with the pair grabbing settling goals in a three minute spell early on to signal their intent.
O’Dea teed up Moloney for the first in only the third minute while Ciara McCarthy provided the ball over the top for O’Dea to cut in from the left corner and place past goalkeeper Shauna Murphy on their way to a 2-0 to 0-3 first quarter advantage.
Growing in confidence, Clare seized complete control in a 1-6 unanswered second quarter as a Niamh O’Dea bullet before the break capped off a near perfect half for the dual star who finished with 2-3 after picking off three glorious points. The returning Grainne Nolan also raided for a hat-trick of points as Clare eased into what seemed an unassailable 3-6 to 0-3 interval advantage.
All that despite Clare losing Fidelma Marrinan to a 23rd minute sinbinning but crucially Fermanagh never went for broke as already playing a spare player at the back, they instead opted for a second sweeper.
That lack of ambition was temporarily rectified on the restart but 1-1 from chief threat Joanne Doonan including a converted penalty was soon wiped out by Chloe Moloney who expertly finished a rebound to the net in the 41st minute followed by a point just before the water break at 4-7 to 1-5.
Clare wasted opportunities to improve their spread of scorers as the game rather petered out in the final quarter. However, despite Clare’s dominance both in experience and scoring prowess, referee Paul Burke’s erratic display did ensure that Fermanagh were given sufficient opportunities to hit back as an already lopsided free count (35 to 10) was accentuated by a second Clare sin bin for Aisling Reidy and a second penalty for Fermanagh that Doonan gladly accepted.
Indeed, there would be three goals in an extended injury-time as Roisin O’Reilly and Chloe Towey also traded majors before the welcome sound of the final whistle as Clare advance to the last eight against Westmeath in a fortnight’s time and Fermanagh prepare for the relegation play-offs.
Scorers for Clare: Niamh O’Dea (2-3, 3f); Chloe Moloney (2-1); Grainne Nolan (0-4, 2f); Chloe Towey (1-0)
Scorers for Fermanagh: Joanne Doonan (2-5, 2-0 Pen, 4f); Roisin O’Reilly (1-1)
1: Micaela Glynn (Kilmihil)
21: Lauren Griffin (Fergus Rovers)
3: Siofra Ní Chonaill (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield)
2: Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil)
7: Roisin Considine (Liscannor)
5: Orla Devitt (Éire Óg)
15: Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels)
6: Tara Kelly (Cúil Gaels)
8: Chloe Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
10: Ciara McCarthy (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
11: Aisling Reidy (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield)
22: Lizzy Roche (Burren Gaels)
12: Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels)
30: Niamh O’Dea (Banner Ladies)
28: Grainne Nolan (Banner Ladies)
14: Catriona Callinan (Kilmihil) for Marrinan (34)
27: Sinead O’Keeffe (Banner Ladies) for Griffin (47)
9: Roisin Looney (Cooraclare) for Moloney (47)
20: Laura Griffey (Burren Gaels) for Considine (53)
24: Chloe Towey (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for Roche (58)
1: Shauna Murphy (Enniskillen Gaels)
25: Erica Douglas (Aghadrumsee St. Macartan’s)
3: Molly McGloin (Newtownbutler First Fermanaghs)
2: Erin Murphy (Kinawley Brian Borus)
5: Shannan McQuade (Tempo Maguires)
6: Courteney Murphy (Kinawley Brian Borus)
7: Sarah McCarville (Aghadrumsee St. Macartan’s)
8: Roisin O’Reilly (Kinawley Brian Borus)
9: Aoife Flanagan (Aghadrumsee St. Macartan’s)
28: Roisin McDonald (Newtownbutler First Fermanaghs)
11: Joanne Doonan (Kinawley Brian Borus)
10: Sarah Britton (Ederney St. Joseph’s)
17: Sarah McCausland (St. Patrick’s Carrickcruppen)
12: Aisling Maguire (Devenish St. Mary’s)
15: Aisling O’Brien (Devenish St. Mary’s)
30: Cliodhna Martin (Newtownbutler First Fermanaghs) for McDonald (HT)
20: Brenda Bannon (Derrygonnelly Harps) for McCausland (39)
22: Caiti Boyle (Brookeborough Heber MacMahons) for McCarville (48)
24: Sarah-Jane Jones (Derrygonnelly Harps) for E. Murphy (53)
26: Donna Feeley (Belcoo O’Rahillys) for Britton (55)
Referee: Paul Burke (Louth)