Ladies: Breffni break new ground with convincing win over Banner
24 April 2017
Cavan's Claragh O'Reilly against Meath.
By Emma Duffy
CAVAN ladies broke new ground on Sunday with a convincing win over Clare to book their place in the National League final in Parnell Park.
It was no easy task how and ever, and took a resillient display against a strong side to seal their position in a head-to-head battle for the coveted Division 2 title Sunday week. Promotion to the top flight is also on the line as they gear up to face Westmeath.
Three second half goals through Claragh O’Reilly, Aishling Sheridan and Beth Farrelly Magee truly made the difference, as Cavan comprihensively saw off Clare in the end.
The eventual winners started the stronger of the two sides in Birr, as O’Reilly, Sheridan and Kingscourt forward Amy Rooney had Cavan leading by three points before Clare had registered a score.
Grainne Nolan changed that after 10 minutes however, while Roisin Considine and the focal point of the Banner attack, Niamh O’Dea helped get their side into the game.
In the meantime, O’Reilly had slotted over a free-kick at the other end and two influential points from midfielder Donna English along with an Aisling Doonan effort in between had Cavan leading by two.
Cavan pushed on and showed no mercy leading into half time, as a brace of points from Rooney and another from Doonan saw the scoreline stand at 0-10 to 0-6 at the interval.
Clare were first off the mark on the restart, with O’Dea registering her second point of the day as the Banner gathered momentum to narrow the gap.
The Breffni started the second half a player down, as Aisling Doonan remained in the dressing room receiving treatment. Upon her return however, she helped to quash the Clare momentum, as she played a pivotal part in her side’s first goal.
She picked out Sheridan, who rattled the the net and double her side’s lead to six points.
Lurgan’s O’Reilly then added a point, just before Cavan almost doubled their goal tally. Corner back Amanda Mulcair pulled off a decisive block as English was through on goal, subsequent to a promising attack involving Sinead Greene and fellow Templeport clubwoman Doonan.
Greene then took matters into her own hands, showing true leadership as captain to slot over a score.
The Munster contingent weren’t finished yet however. They produced a dominant spell, and rallied with three points in quick succession through Roisin Looney, Kayleigh McCormack and O’Dea.
The Cavan defence were put under pressure, but dealt well with any incoming threats on goal. The trojan work of the defence was epitomised through full-back Ailish Cornyn and St Finbarr’s Laura Fitzpatrick, who both pulled off crucial blocks to deny the Banner of two certain scores.
At the other end of play, Sheridan got the ball rolling and the score board ticking again with an excellent score following a pin-point pass from Doonan, and Killygarry’s Caitriona Smith added another.
McCabe began to introduce fresh legs from the bench, as Racheal Jordan replaced Rachael Doonan and Geraldine Smith took up Sheridan’s position. Smith pointed with her first touch of the ball.
Clare began to assert further pressure on the Cavan defence as they went in search of a late comeback. Roisin Looney split the posts as the deficit was reduced to eight points, but Neasa Byrd tracked back to help cut out any dangerous deliveries.
Even with Greene sent to the sin bin in the dying minutes, nothing could stop Cavan.
O’Reilly continued to excell in full-forward and brought her personal tally to 1-3, a late goal coming as a sucker punch to Clare. Fitzpatrick won the ball in the backline, before finding O’Reilly who played a one-two with Sinead O’Sullivan and then smashed the top-right corner.
Shauna Lynch, Grainne Smith and Beth Farrelly Magee then took to the field in the dying minutes, with the latter of the trio finding the net with her first touch.
Caitriona Smith’s free-kick dropped short into the hands of Farrelly McGee, who slotted it cooly into the goal to add to Clare’s nightmare and call time on the game.
The final score was 3-16 to 0-11.
McCabe’s side now face old rivals Westmeath in the highly anticipated Division 2 National League final. The decider takes place in Parnell Park on Sunday 7 May at 2pm.
CAVAN: Elaine Walsh; Monagh Sheridan, Ailish Cornyn, Rachael Doonan; Sinead Greene (0-1), Laura Fitzpatrick, Sheila Reilly; Donna English (0-2), Sinead O’Sullivan; Caitriona Smith (0-1), Amy Rooney (0-3), Neasa Byrd; Aisling Doonan (0-3, 1f), Claragh O’Reilly (1-3, 1f), Aishling Sheridan (1-2).
Subs: Racheal Jordan for R Doonan (49’), Geraldine Smith (0-1) for A Sheridan (52’), Shauna Lynch for S Reilly and Grainne Smith for C O’Reilly (58’), Beth Farrelly Magee (1-0) for A Doonan (61’).
CLARE: Ciara Harvey; Amanda Mulcair, Laurie Ryan, Nicole O’Doherty; Kayleigh McCormack (0-1), Ellie O’Gorman, Roisin Considine (0-1); Roisin Looney (0-2), Tara Kelly; Sarah Bohannon, Catriona Callinan, Ailish Considine (0-1); Grainne Nolan (0-3, 1f), Niamh O’Dea (0-3), Ciara Hickey.
Subs: Becky Mahon for C Hickey (26’), Lizzy Roach for S Bohannon (37’), Grainne Harvey for N O’Doherty and Anna Courtney for T Kelly (50’), Shauna Harvey for E O’Gorman (62’).