*Photograph: David Dillon
Defeat marked Clare’s start in the Ladies Football All-Ireland IFC on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Shanahan McNamara Memorial Grounds, Doonbeg
Acclimatising to the twenty two degree heat and glorious sunshine of West Clare was an easy task for the girls from the sunny South East as they held on to their three point margin to get their 2019 All-Ireland bid off to a successful start in a tie which had one water break in each half.
A Wexford goal separated the sides at the end of the first quarter but three points in succession via Caoimhe Harvey, Niamh O’Dea and Fidelma Marrinan had Clare level on twenty one minutes. The visitors would close out the half with three of the final five scores to hold a slender one point lead. Grainne Nolan missed a penalty for the Banner while they also coughed up two other goal chances.
For only the second time in the game, Clare regained the lead on thirty two minutes following white flags from Marrinan and Nolan with Eimear Keane adding another soon after.
Bernie Breen’s sin binning didn’t deter Wexford as their next attack saw Clara Donnelly blast the ball past Ciara Harvey in the Clare goal to put them back in front, this time they would fall behind again.
With nine minutes of normal time remaining, corner back Grainne Harvey levelled matters only for Anthony Masterson’s Yellow Bellies to work the ball up the field straight from the kick out and fire home their third goal courtesy of Ellen O’Brien.
Though James Murrihy’s charges would continue the fight, they once again lacked the killer touch when it mattered most. In their final attack, Niamh O’Dea was fouled by the opposing defence whilst bearing down on goal, the Kilfenora native played a quick free to Ailish Considine who put her effort left of the target.
Next week’s trip to Laois is now a must-win outing for Clare. They lacked shape and over complicated matters with their use of the ball while ultimately their missed goal chances came back to bite them. Kicking sixteen points over the hour is a positive return, though they should be making home advantage count and have no choice but to get a win on the road if they are to advance to the knockout stages. More focus on the game and less on engaging with the referee is another area to work on.
Scorers Clare: Fidelma Marrinan 0-3, Niamh O’Dea 0-3, Grainne Nolan 0-2, Roisin Considine 0-2, Ailish Considine 0-2, Caoimhe Harvey 0-1, Eimear Keane 0-1, Orla Devitt 0-1, Grainne Harvey 0-1.
1: Ciara Harvey (West Clare Gaels)
7: Siofra Ní Chonnail (St Josephs Doora/Barefield)
3: Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil)
4: Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels)
5: Carol O’Leary (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
6: Laurie Ryan (Banner)
12: Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels)
9: Eimear O’Connor (Cúil Gaels)
8: Orla Devitt (Éire Óg)
10: Roisin Considine (Liscannor)
11: Ailish Considine (Kilmihil)
2: Áine Keane (St Josephs Miltown)
13: Grainne Nolan (Banner)
14: Niamh O’Dea (Banner)
15: Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels)
19: Eimear Keane (St Josephs Miltown) for O’Leary (35)
20: Tara Kelly (Cúil Gaels) for Ní Chonnaill (37)
24: Aisling Reidy (St Josephs Doora/Barefield) for Nolan (55)
17: Roisin Looney for O’Connor (55)
1: Mary Rose Kelly (St Fintans)
4: Aoife Tormey (Clonard/Volunteers)
3: Marica Cullen (St Annes)
2: Niamh Mernagh (Horeswood)
10: Niamh Butler (Clonard/Volunteers)
6: Shauna Murphy (Shelmalier)
7: Sarah Harding Kenny (Shelmalier)
8: Kellie Kearney (Shelmalier)
9: Bernie Breen (Baile Dubh Tire)
5: Clara Donnelly (Shelmalier)
13: Fiona Rochford (St Annes)
12: Niamh Moore (Kilmore)
21: Ailish Neville (Shelmalier)
14: Maria Byrne (Kilmore)
18: Ellen O’Brien (Adamstown)
15: Chloe Foxe (Clongeen) for Neville (52)
Referee: Shane Curley (Galway)