*Niamh O’Dea celebrates. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
BANNER LADIES have beaten Cork’s Mourneabbey following extra time to advance to the Munster club final.
Banner Ladies 3-17
Mourneabbey (Cork) 4-13
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
After extra time
Cusack Park in Ennis has been the scene of many outstanding individual displays over the years and those lucky enough to have been amongst the attendance at this Sunday’s Munster ladies senior football semi-final witnessed one such performance.
Banner’s Niamh O’Dea broke the hearts of all involved with the famed Cork club as she delivered a magnificent display which yielded 3-6, all from play as the Clare champions recorded one of their greatest wins.
This was a marvellous game of football which ebbed and flowed from start to finish and when the final whistle sounded the players were the recipients of a standing ovation and it was well merited.
For almost ninety minutes they played their hearts out, produced some excellent scores and few can quibble with the result as the Clare champions were deserving winners on the day.
While the display of Niamh O’Dea will be talked about for some time to come, there were many stars on the day and these included Caoimhe Cahill, Laurie Ryan, Gainne Nolan and Louise Henchy to mention a few.
Caoimhe Cahill and Grainne Nolan had points in the opening two minutes for the winners before Mourneabbey opened their account.
The game’s first goal came in the fourth minute when O’Dea found the net but a few minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty which Clara Lynch converted.
At the end of the opening quarter Banner led 1-4 to 1-2 and they were unlucky not to have a second goal right on the midpoint of the half when Louise Woods’ effort following a Grainne Nolan free was cleared off the line but the visitors got a fortunate break in the nineteenth minute when Maire O’Callaghan’s effort for a point deflected off Banner captain Clare Hehir and ended up in the net.
Five minutes from the break the Banner were awarded a penalty but Louise Henchy’s effort was superbly saved by Abbie Hayes in the Cork side’s goal. The home side finished the half strongly with four unanswered points to lead 1-8 to 2-3 at the short whistle.
Mourneabbey had the opening two points of the new half to level the tie. They then had forward Ellie Jack sent to the sin bin for ten minutes but when the midpoint of this half arrived they were ahead by the minimum margin.
A Niamh O’Dea goal after great work by Louise Henchy had the Banner back in front with eleven minutes to play and they had stretched their advantage to three points as the game went into ‘added time’.
The game was in the third minute of ‘added time’ at the end of the second half when as kick out from Shannon O’Donovan was intercepted and Mourneabbey full forward Ciara O’Sullivan found the net to level the tie at 2-11 for the Banner to 3-8.
Banner landed the opening three points of extra time through Niamh O’Dea but at the end of the first period their lead was back to two, 2-16 to 3-11.
A goal from Ciara O’Sullivan four minutes into the second period put the visitors 4-12 to 2-16 in front and they still led by two points with just a minute remaining.
Then O’Dea struck again when she scored her third goal, after great work from full back and team captain Clare Hehir. They held firm in the remaining time for a famous victory and a place in the Munster finl against Waterford’s Ballymacarbry on November 12th.
Scorers Banner: Niamh O’Dea (3-6), Grainne Nolan (0-8, 4f); Caoimhe Cahill, Aoibhin Ryan, Clare Hehir (0-1) each
Scorers Mourneabbey: Clara Lynch (1-6, 0-3 f), Ciara O’Sullivan (2-2); Maire O’Calllaghan (1-0); Ellie Jack (0-2) Lauren Finnegan, Laura Walsh, Laura Fitzgerald (0-1) each
Banner Ladies: Shannon O’Donovan; Aleisha Malone, Clare Hehir (captain), Sinead O’Keeffe; Laoise Ryan, Laurie Ryan, Emer Burke; Caoimhe Cahill, Niamh O’Dea; Louise Henchy, Grainne Nolan, Keelin Fitzgerald; Louise Woods Niamh Keane, Aoibhin Ryan.
Sub: Caoimhe Ryan for K. Fitxgerald (70)
Mourneabbey: Abbie Hayes; Aoife Walsh, Eimear Meaney, Molly Burke; Anna Ryan, Kate Williamson, Grace Cronin; Marie O’Callaghan, Brid O’Sullivan; Ellie Jack, Deirdre Cronin, Lauran Finnegan; Clara Lynch, Ciara O’Sullivan, Laura Walsh;
Subs: Eimear Walsh for A. Ryan; Rachel Breen for D. Cronin (both 51); Sarah Finnegan for L. Finnegan(57); Laura Fitzgerald for R. Breen (76); D. Cronin for C. Lynch (80)
Referee: Maurice Murphy (Kerry)