Friday 17 November 2017

Hulgraine save inspires Lilies

Kildare 1-13 Clare 1-12

Kildare goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine of Kildare makes a save from Gráinne Nolan of Clare during the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kildare goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine of Kildare makes a save from Gráinne Nolan of Clare during the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Intermediate Football Championship final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jackie Cahill

Goalkeeper Mary Hulgraine was the star of the show as Kildare atoned for last year's TG4 All-Ireland ladies intermediate final defeat by going one better at Croke Park yesterday afternoon.

The Lilywhites edged out Clare by just a single point to win the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup - despite losing centre-back Aishling Savage to the sin-bin for ten minutes in the second half.

Dejected Clare players, from left, Louise Henchy, Caoimhe Harvey and Kayleigh McCormack after the final. Photo: Sportsfile
Dejected Clare players, from left, Louise Henchy, Caoimhe Harvey and Kayleigh McCormack after the final. Photo: Sportsfile

Hulgraine performed heroics throughout to keep Clare at bay, as the Banner County were denied a first intermediate crown since 2009.

Kildare will return to the senior grade next year and will do so on the back of a first All-Ireland win since the junior success back in 2004.

It's a first intermediate crown for Kildare and they had to battle for it after Clare came from seven points down in the first half to draw level at the break.

Kildare looked winners all over as they opened up a 1-7 to 0-3 lead in the first half but Clare hit 1-4 without reply to get level by half-time.

Noelle Earley's goal in the seventh minute, set up by Eadaoin Connolly, was a crucial score for Kildare and with Hulgraine keeping the Banner at bay at the other end, Alan Barry's charges were in control.

But Clare finally breached Hulgraine's goal in the 28th minute when star forward Niamh O'Dea supplied Ailish Considine for a fine goal. That was the final score of the half, as the sides went in level at 1-7 apiece, but Clare were presented with a glorious chance to move ahead three minutes into the second half.

Gráinne Nolan was fouled and the corner-forward assumed penalty responsibilities herself.

But Nolan failed to connect as she would have liked and Hulgraine got down to her left, executing a decent save. That was a pivotal moment as Kildare registered the next three scores - inspirational captain Aisling Holton (below), Maria Moolick and Ellen Dowling (free) on target.

But after Kildare lost Savage to the sin-bin, Clare worked their way back and were level at 1-11 each down the home straight.

Kildare responded with points from Holton and sub Molly Price (free) - as O'Dea's fifth point, a free in stoppage time, proved mere consolation as time ran out for the Munster champions.

Scorers - Kildare: N Earley 1-1, R Byrne (1f) & E Dowling (3f) 0-3 each, A Holton & M Moolick 0-2 each, E Connolly & M Price (f) 0-1 each. Clare: N O'Dea 0-5 (1f), A Considine 1-1, G Nolan 0-4f, S Bohannon & C Hickey 0-1 each.
KILDARE - M Hulgraine; T Duggan, P Keatley, R Cribbin; S Kendrick, A Savage, M Nolan; E Burke, A Holton; R Byrne, M Moolick, E Connolly; M McKenna, N Earley, E Dowling. Subs: R Reidy for Keatley (h-t), E Fogarty for Byrne (38), M Price for McKenna (50), R Corrigan for Savage (52), G Lyons for Connolly (55).
CLARE - E O'Driscoll; K McCormack, L Ryan, S Harvey; R Considine, E O'Gorman, G Harvey; L Henchy, B Mahon; S Bohannon, A Considine, N Keane; C Hickey, N O'Dea, G Nolan. Subs: C Harvey for G Harvey (h-t), A Keane for Hickey (42).
REF - K Delahunty (Tipperary)

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