*Clare’s Fidelma Marrinan in action. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
A second half collapse with a failure to register a single score saw Clare’s ladies footballers lose out to Wexford in the second round of Division Three in the National Football League.
In truth Clare were second best for the entirety of that second thirty and could have been beaten by far more, such was the dominance of last year’s beaten All Ireland finalists.
A highly open entertaining first half which saw two virtuoso performances from Clare’s Fidelma Marrinan and Wexford’s Caoillfhionn Ní Nualáin saw the Banner leading by the bare minimum on an interval scoreline of 2-3 to 1-5.
The Model County opened the scoring inside two minutes when the prolific Ní Nualáin slotted over. Clare were struggling to get a foothold in the contest before star forward Marrinan raided for 1-2 in a scintillating 90 second period.
She blasted home into the top corner in the sixth minute after being released by a super Eimear Keane handpass. Marrinan then followed this up by kicking two fabulous points and out of nowhere Clare led 1-2 to 0-1.
However for the next twenty minutes Wexford inspired by Ní Nualáin completely took over. Every time she gathered possession there was a real sense of danger. In fact Ní Nualáin was responsible for almost every Wexford score kicking 0-4 and setting up Sarah Harding Kenny for the goal in the 21st minute. Clare can also be thankful to keeper Amy Lenihan for making a fantastic point blank save.
Needing inspiration, Marrinan got Clare back on the scoreboard when kicking on the run. Moments later a super Marrinan delivery found Lizzie Roche who was fouled and referee Paul McCaugbey pointed to the penalty spot. Up stepped Chloe Moloney to slot home the all important kick.
The second half was a stop start affair with a lot of action occurring in the middle third of the field. Neither side could create any opportunities to score and a tight tense affair looked likely.
However a cruel own goal seven minutes into the period seemed to knock the stuffing out of Clare and for the remainder of this match it was one way traffic. A Ní Nualáin free dropped short and somehow deceived keeper Lenihan and the entire Clare full back line with nobody sure who touched it over the line.
Two Banville points followed before a super Sarah Harding Kenny goal killing any hope of a Clare revival. Wexford were dominating in every area and were continuously running at the Clare rear-guard with each attack opening up the Clare defence far too easily.
In the 49th minute a super run by star forward Ní Nualáin again opened up the defence and she blasted magnificently into the top corner but strangely referee Paul McCaugbey disallowed it for an infringement out the field.
This was a huge let off for Clare but again disappointingly they could not capitalise. In fact Clare only had two scoring attempts in that second half, both wide, and a huge improvement will be needed for next week’s visit of Kildare.
Scorers for Wexford: Sarah Harding Kenny (2-0), Caoillfhionn Ni Nualain (0-5 2f), Ciara Banville (0-2), Aisling Murphy (0-1), Amy Wilson (0-1)
Scorers for Clare: Fidelma Marrinan (1-3), Chloe Moloney (1-0)
1: Leanne Moore (St Anne’s)
2: Aisling Halligan (Clonard Volunteers)
3: Shauna Murphy (Shelmailer LGFC)
4: Katie English (Adamstown)
5: Aoibhe Manley (Shelmailer LGFC)
6: Roisin Murphy (Shelmailer LGFC)
7: Orlagh Kehoe (Baile Dubh Tuc)
8: Aoife Cullen (Gusserane)
9: Ciara Donnelly (Shelmailer LGFC)
10: Sarah Harding Kenny (Shelmailer LGFC)
11: Catriona Murray (Clonee)
12: Ciara Banville (Taghmon Camross)
13: Ciara Rohan (Baile Dubh Tuc)
14: Aisling Murphy (Gusserane)
15: Caoillfhionn Ní Nualláin (Ballygarreth)
Beibheann McDonald (Kilanerian) for Rohan (HT)
Emma Tomkins (Clonee) for Donnelly (39)
Anne Byrne (Clonee) for Cullen (55)
Orla Byrne (Clonee) for Harding Kenny (56)
Amy Wilson (Castletown Liam Mellows) for Murphy (60)
1: Amy Lenihan (St Joseph’s Doora Barefield)
2: Lauren Griffin (Fergus Rovers)
3: Siofra Ni Chonaill (St Joseph’s Doora Barefield)
4: Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels)
5: Louise Griffin (Fergus Rovers)
6: Caoimhe Harvey (West Clare Gaels)
7: Aine Keane (St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
8: Sinead Considine (Liscannor)
9: Chloe Moloney (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
10: Eimear Keane (St. Joseph’s Miltown Malbay)
11: Fidelma Marrinan (West Clare Gaels)
12: Amy Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
13: Lizzy Roche (Burren Gaels)
14: Cliodhna Blake (Doonbeg)
15: Ciara McCarthy (Kilmurry Ibrickane)
Laura Griffey (Burren Gaels) for McCarthy (40)
Megan Downes (Cooraclare) for Sexton (52)
Joanna Doohan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Considine (52)
Caoilinn McCormack (Burren Gaels) for Lauren Griffin (52)
Rebecca Doohan (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Louise Griffin (57)
Aisling Morrissey (Cooraclare) for Aine Keane (57)
Emma Healy (Burren Gaels) for Eimear Keane (60)
Shauna Harvey (West Clare Gaels) for Roche (60)
Referee: Paul McCaugbey (Westmeath)