LGFA National Master Plan


Clare Seniors V Leitrim All-Ireland Qtr Finals

The Clare Ladies football squad played their All-Ireland Intermediate Quarter Final last Sunday when they travelled to St. Brendan’s Park in Birr to go toe-to-toe with Connaught Champions, Leitrim. Leitrim defeated Sligo in their provincial final and consequently Sligo fell to Waterford in the opening quarter final game of the day at the same venue. Clare’s route took them though the back door after going out narrowly to Waterford in the Munster final in Dungarvan and a qualifier thriller against Limerick in Kilmihil.

Officiated by referee Yvonne Duffy (Cavan), the pairing was a close run match the outcome of which wasn’t evident until injury time.  

From the throw-in Clare were first to threaten but on the rebound, a casual free kick for Leitrim on Clare’s forty meter line ended up in the hands of Aine Tighe who netted for The Ridge County on two minutes.  Unphased, a very industrious Banner County side pressured Leitrim over the next seven minutes and the resultant scores from two Grainne Nolan frees (fouls on Louise Woods and Roisin Howley) and a confident point from mid-fielder Louise Woods negated that on nine minutes. Some impressive reading of the game by Laurie Ryan and Ellie O’Gorman fed the forward momentum during this phase but the next Leitrim foray into the Clare danger zone forced the free and again Aine Tighe, who would be the bane of Clare’s outing snuck a lobbed twenty meter ball between the crossbar and Emma O’Driscoll’s fingertips for her second goal at the end of the first quarter.

A resolute Clare side dealt an immediate retaliatory strike of their own when good handling by Marie Considine, Kayleigh McCormack and Clare Hester in the half back line landed the ball to Niamh Keane. At the end of a characteristic thirty meter run, Keane had leveled the game for the second time when she took a goal from the top drawer. After Aileen Maguire’s point for Leitrim, three unanswered points from Becky Mahon, Niamh Keane again and a free from Grainne Nolan for a foul on the dynamic Roisin Howley pushed the Saffron and Blue two points clear but player of the match Leitrim’s Tighe could not be marshaled and she had leveled the game for the third time with two excellent points with six minutes to go to the break. (Clare 1-06 Leitrim 2-03).

The Clare side was dominant for the remainder of the half but the ghosts of games past were lurking in the shadows as opportunities went a begging, when Grainne Nolan's effort somehow came off the upright and Aoife Keane was pushed wide by goalkeeper Michelle Guckian for a near miss. Leitrim pointed to go one ahead before the break courtesy of Aine Tighe again who also extracted the save of the game from Clare custodian Emma O’Driscoll. Tighe took 2-3 of 2-4 for Leitrim in the first half while only two Clare forwards had registered (Nolan and Mahon) as well as both mid-fielders (Keane and Woods). It was all to play for but Clare were losing a lot of ball through unforced errors and not taking their scoring chances. Clare 1-06 Leitrim 2-4.

After allowing Leitrim to push three points ahead after the restart (Aine Tighe and Captain Sarah McLoughlin pointing), Ellie O’Gorman who has been steadfast all year, released Irish Boxing star Kayleigh McCormack for a well taken point on ten minutes. Leading by example Leitrim captain McLoughlin was instrumental in launching Tighe forward and after O’Driscoll saved a low rasper from the tallest player on the pitch, Tighe added another point for Leitrim 2-07 to Clare’s 1-07 at the end of the third quarter. Becky Mahon was now to step forward and an inspirational phase led by her had her on the board with a point after a run where she just couldn’t be marshaled. Some effective ball gathering by Clare Hester, McCormack and Considine in the half back line propelled Mahon forward and when she was brought to ground while bearing down on an exposed goalmouth, Nolan converted the resultant free. With Carol O’Leary who replaced Orlaith Lynch working hard up front, Clare were exerting good pressure now and Nolan’s next free leveled the game 1-10 to Leitrim’s     2-07. Soon after, the Saffron and Blue had edged ahead that’s to a Niamh Keane point, bringing her tally to 1-02 for the day. A tense and exciting game, arch nemesis Tighe finished out a well worked maneuver with her fourth goal of the game on twenty seven minutes pushing her side two points ahead and bringing howls from the stand. Having chased the game for most of this year’s campaign a Clare team that doesn’t give up were back in numbers in the Leitrim danger zone when Roisin Howley was fouled. Nolan brought the score to the minimum with a minute to go and a draw looked a real possibility. It was still all to play for until Leitrim’s next assault saw Aine Tighe brought down in the parallogram and she duly netted the resulting penalty on thirty minutes. A lion hearted Clare pushed one more time but after giving it absolutely everything in a truly riveting game yielded to Leitrim 1-12 to 4-07. A great run by a young Clare team has come to an end for 2015.

A high proportion of senior recruits in this year’s panel meant a sharp learning curve for those players. Manager John Burke has had a memorable 2015 having retained division two football in next year’s National Football League and bringing this team into a Munster Final for the first time in five years. To be placed in the last eight in the All-Ireland Intermediate Championships is no mean achievement and a solid basis for 2016 which a well-bonded and cohesive Clare side are already looking forward to.



Clare: Emma O’Driscoll (Banner Ladies), Ellie O’Gorman (Kilmihil), Laure Ryan (Banner Ladies), Grainne Harvey (West Clare Gaels), Clare Hester (Fergus Rovers), Kayleigh McCormack (0-1) (Burren Gaels), Marie Considine (Liscannor), Niamh Keane (1-02) (Banner Ladies), Louise Woods (0-1) (Banner Ladies), Roisin Howley (Burren Gaels), Orlaith Lynch (Banner Ladies), Becky Mahon (0-2) (Kilmihil), Grainne Nolan (0-6f) (Banner Ladies), Aoife Keane (Banner Ladies), Emer Hillery (Liscannor), Carol O’Leary (Newmarket-On-Fergus), Karen Roche (Banner Ladies), Carla Behan (Shannon Gaels), Fiona Tuohy (Doorabarefield), Amy O’Brien (Burren Gaels), Kate Coughlan (Kilmihil), Ciara Coughlan (Kilmihil), Ciara Cahill (Doorabarefield), Sarah Browne (Kilmihil), Aoibheann Malone (Banner Ladies), Orla Devitt (Eire Og). Ailish Considine (Injured).

Management: John Burke (Manager), Martin Nolan, Martin Sexton, Steve, Martin Crowley, Kay Considine, Bernie Regan,