Antrim fall short in intermediate semi-final as Clare edge a thrilling contest
TG4 All-Ireland Ladies' IFC semi-finals
Antrim 1-13 Clare 2-14
CLARE advanced to the TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final for the first time since 2016 when they overcame the stiff challenge of Antrim at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park in Longford.
In what was a fantastic game of football, Clare made a whirlwind start to the game but credit to Antrim they came back at them.
The Banner put in a fine performance in the second half despite losing substitute Ciara McCarthy to the sin-bin.
Straight from throw-in Antrim had a chance to open the scoring but kicked a wide. Clare went up the field and six attacks yielded six scores. Chloe Moloney got their first point in the second minute.
Moloney passed the ball to Aisling Reidy one minute later and she found the back of the net with a superb strike.
Moloney and Laura Griffey and Fidelma Marrinan tagged on points as Clare opened up an eight-point lead after seven minutes of play.
Antrim, though, didn’t panic and got off the mark with a neat point from Orlaith Prenter in the ninth minute.
They added two more before Marrinan and Reidy put Clare in front by seven in the 16th minute.
But then the game swung in Antrim’s favour. They overturned the ball in the 19th minute, Cathy Carey went on a run before finding Maria O’Neill and she fisted the ball to the net.
In the 28th minute, a good point from Carey levelled the game.
Just before the break, a free from Marrinan and a fine score from Reidy gave the Banner county a two-point lead at 1-9 to 1-7 at the interval.
An excellent point from Marrinan and another free from Moloney extended Clare’s lead to four points in the 36th minute.
The lead was seven in the 44th minute when sub McCarthy played a high ball into Moloney, she turned before she found the top corner of the net with a stunning shot.
One minute later, McCarthy was sin-binned and Antrim got a score through Lara Dahunsi.
Clare tried to manage the clock while McCarthy was off but Antrim got points through Prenter and Dahunsi to close the gap to three in the 52nd minute.
It was end-to-end stuff. Clare substitute Megan Downes got a much-needed point in the 54th minute to stem Antrim’s comeback.
Marrinan followed with a free for her fifth point of the game to extend the lead to five points in the 56th minute as they advanced to the final.
Antrim O Prenter 0-5 (0-1f); M O’Neill 1-1; G McLaughlin 0-3 (0-1f); L Dahunsi 0-2; C Carey & T Mellon 0-1 each
Clare C Moloney 1-4 (0-2f); F Marrinan 0-5 (0-2f); A Reidy 1-2; L Griffey, C McCarthy & M Downes 0-1 each
Wexford 0-2 Kildare 1-4
NEASA Dooley struck a 53rd-minute goal at Parnell Park as Kildare got the better of Wexford in a low-scoring affair to advance into the final.
The Lilywhites claimed the Mary Quinn Memorial Cup seven years ago with a narrow victory over Clare at Croke Park and it is the Banner county who will once again stand in their way at GAA HQ two weeks from now.
Every score in this tie was a hard-earned one and Kildare held onto this 0-4 to 0-2 cushion moving into the closing-quarter of a tense battle. The Slaneysiders were still very much in the reckoning for a third successive appearance in an intermediate final, but were ultimately rocked by the concession of a goal with seven minutes remaining.
After blocking an attempted hand pass out of defence, Dooley spotted that Wexford netminder Sophie Lenehan was out of position and she hammered the ball to the net in ruthless style.