Sunday 19 January 2020

Camogie - Aislinn Connolly strikes to see off the Banner

Claire McMahon, Clare
Claire McMahon, Clare

As expected, there was never much between champions Galway and Clare in their much-anticipated quarter-final.

Tony Ward's crew took the lead early on via the hurley of Niamh McGrath but it was nip and tuck throughout and a brace of pointed frees by Claire McMahon soon pushed the league runners-up ahead.

That lead didn't last long though and Emma Kilkelly pounced for a 15th minute goal to edge Galway ahead once more.

McGrath and McMahon exchanged a couple of scores and it was 1-6 to 0-6 at half-time.

A near apocalyptic rainstorm left referee Mike O'Kelly with no option but to halt proceedings briefly for a period in the second half of the game with the one-goal margin still between them.

When they resumed, it was Clare that increased their urgency and points from a Chloe Morey penalty (deflected over the bar) and McMahon left just the one between them, before McMahon held her composure to bring the game to extra-time.

Aislinn Connolly fired a critical goal for Galway two minutes into the third period and though Clare did manage to reduce the deficit to a point approaching the 80th minute, a pointed free by McGrath saw the westerners through by 2-10 to 0-14.

Cork advanced as expected from the other quarter-final but there was no surprise either that Offaly made them work all the way to the final whistle before prevailing 2-21 to 1-15 after a fantastic game.

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The crucial score was an early goal from Denise Cronin when her mishit shot somehow beat everyone and found the back of the net while player of the match, Orla Cotter, slotted some vital points.

Offaly were giving as good as they got though and Siobhan Flannery and Elaine Dermody had no less than eight points between them in the opening period to keep their side in contention at the break, trailing by just 1-13 to 0-9.

Flannery was magnificent for Aidan Franks' team and got a goal on her way to a fine individual tally of 1-7 but Cork had too much all-round firepower to go with the 11 points provided by the outstanding Cotter.

Amy O'Connor scored an injury-time goal to put a more flattering gloss on the final scoreline for the winners.

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