Chloe McCaffrey sets sights on Down after Tyrone’s fine win over Clare

The Ulster rivals will clash later this month for a place in the All-Ireland intermediate final

Chloe McCaffrey
Tyrone's Chloe McCaffrey returned from injury to help her side past Clare for a place in the last four of the TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' IFC. Picture: Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo (©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo/©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo)

TYRONE’S Chloe McCaffrey was delighted to put a tough few months behind her as she and her Red Hand team-mates played starring roles in their All-Ireland intermediate quarter-final win over Clare at the weekend.

The Ulster side came from six points behind at half-time, trailing last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists 2-4 to 0-4, to win by the narrowest of margins, 2-8 to 2-7, in Cusack Park, Ennis on Saturday and set up an all-Ulster semi-fina with provincial champions Down on July 14.

McCaffrey hit 1-2 in a two-minute spell to bring her side right back into it with the second half just three minutes old.

She got a full 60-plus minutes under her belt on what was her first start and only her second appearance since she went off injured in the Division Two league game against Donegal back in March.

That time out saw her miss the rest of the league campaign, including the final loss to Kildare, and the Ulster championship, which ended in defeat to Monaghan at the first hurdle.

“It’s great to get a full 60 minutes, it has been a long hard 15 weeks to get back to playing but I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

“Hopefully the games continue and the injuries stay away for the rest of the season.”

Tyrone led 0-3 to 0-2 after the first quarter and were still ahead by a point, 0-4 to 0-3, after 22 minutes, but two goals for Clare from Laurie Ryan and Ailish Considine in the 23rd and 24th minutes and a Fidelma Marrinan point in injury-time put the Banner in the driving seat at the break.

McCaffrey’s 1-2 brought them back to within one with less than six minutes of the second half gone, but Clare hit two points to move three clear before Aoife Horisk grabbed a crucial second goal for the visitors to level the game, 2-6 to 2-6.

Horisk then put them in front with six minutes remaining before Maria Canavan doubled the lead for Sean O’Kane’s side. Although a Chloe Moloney point left just the minimum between them as the game entered injury-time, they could not get the winner or the point to send the game to extra-time as Tyrone held out.

It is the first time Tyrone have reached the semi-finals of the competition since they came back down from senior in 2022, having fallen at the quarter-final stage for the last two years.

The timing could not be better for Tyrone to begin to find the same form that saw them reach the league final and gain promotion to the top flight for next season.

McCaffrey admits their championship performances have not been good enough and hopes this win over Clare will push them on.

“We’re delighted to be in the semis, we’ve fallen at the quarter-final stage the last few years so we’re happy to get over that step and into the last four,” she said.

“The Ulster championship was disappointing as we never really reached the performances we had in the league.

“The loss against Leitrim was a tough one to take but thankfully the girls worked hard against Wicklow and ground out an important win and performance.

“Clare was a massive challenge for us, especially away from home, but we had every belief we could go down to Clare and win that game. Even six points down at half-time we still had the belief we could turn it around in the second half, which we did thankfully.

“Down are the form team at the minute and they will be a massive task in the semis but no semi-final will ever be easy.

“We would know a good few girls from uni and they have some unreal talents, but we’ll work away and hopefully put it up to them in the day.

“They will definitely be hard to beat with the form they are in.”