Tuesday 17 July 2018

Clare's fatigue proves costly as fresher Dubs finish stronger in tense finale

Dublin 1-11 Clare 0-12

Aisling Maher, Dublin, in action against Aoife Griffin, Clare
Aisling Maher, Dublin, in action against Aoife Griffin, Clare
Aoife Keane, Clare, in action against Catriona Power, Dublin
Martha O'Donoghue, Dublin, in action against Emma O'Connell, Clare
Dublin players celebrate after beating Clare in a play-off to book their place in the All-Ireland quarter-final

Eoin Brennan

Dublin finally advanced to tomorrow's All-Ireland quarter-final against Wexford following a strong finish to this winner-takes-all showdown in Semple Stadium.

After a difficult week in which both counties withdrew from the competition on Wednesday rather than have to draw lots to decide the final quarter-final place after the counties had finished level on points and on the head-to-head, the Camogie Association finally offered the appeasement of a play-off.

This game was just as evenly matched as their group draw, with the sides level on seven occasions before Dublin finally secured victory with the last puck of the game.

Wind-assisted Clare opened with the first three points of the game inside five minutes through Chloe Morey (2) and Eimear Kelly, only for Dublin to cancel out that lead a minute later in a slick move involving Siobhan Kehoe and Aine Fanning, who picked out Louise O'Hara at the back post to finish to the net.

The Dubs quickly hit the front for the first time thanks to points from Sarah O'Donovan and Fanning by the 11th minute, a two-point lead that they would maintain into the second quarter despite two glorious goal opportunities for the Banner.

Morey was on the end of both, first flicking an Aoife Keane delivery just past the post, and only minutes later seeing a first-time pull somehow tipped away by goalkeeper Sile Nic Coitir.

Clare did finish with four of the last six points of the half, however, two from unerring free-taker Morey to ensure that the sides would be on level terms entering the dressing-rooms at 1-5 to 0-8.

That pattern continued on the restart as Dublin, now with the aid of the breeze, edged clear on three occasions only to be reeled in each time by their obstinate opponents. It seemed as if nothing could separate the sides as the game entered the final ten minutes.

However, with three of Clare's side also having played 80 minutes of All-Ireland Intermediate Ladies Football Championship for the Banner less than 24 hours earlier, their inevitable fatigue was in contrast to Dublin's fresh legs from the bench in what proved a tense finale.

An Alison Maguire free nudged Dublin 1-10 to 0-12 clear in the 54th minute, an advantage that they retained despite some anxious moments at the back, before substitute Aisling Maher got the late insurance point.

Meanwhile, All-Ireland champions Cork produced a power-packed second-half performance to return to the semi-finals with a 2-17 to 0-10 victory over Tipperary. A goal from Amy O'Connor just before the interval proved critical.

Scorers - Dublin: L O'Hara 1-0 A Maguire 0-3 (2f, 1'45); A Fanning, S Kehoe, A Maher 0-2 each; S O'Donovan, L Quinn 0-1 each. Clare: C Morey 0-7 (7f); E O'Driscoll 0-2; E Kelly, A Keane, A O'Keeffe 0-1 each.

Dublin: S Nic Coitir; C Power, R Collins, A Carolan; E O'Meara, A Maguire, L Twomey; M Twomey, O Durkin; L Quinn, S O'Donovan, L O'Hara; E Flanagan, Á Fanning, S Kehoe. Subs: A Maher for Flanagan (HT), M O'Donoghue for Durkin (34), A Twomey for O'Hara (58), A Bugler for Fanning (58), Mairi Moynihan for O'Donovan (61).

Clare: D Lynch; A Griffin, C O'Leary, E O'Connell; K Lynch, O Duggan, C Hehir; M McGrath, R McMahon; A O'Keeffe, E Kelly, E O'Driscoll; N Carroll, C Morey, A Keane. Sub: A Keating for Kelly (ht).

Referee: C Egan (Cork)

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