‘Clann-tastic’ comeback clinches county crown

Second-half surge ends 24-year famine

Abbey Hotel Roscommon Ladies Football Senior Final

Clann na nGael 3-16 Kilbride 3-7

A devastating second-half display of attacking football saw Clann na nGael ladies sweep to their first senior club title in 24 years in what was a thrilling final played before a big crowd at Enfield last Saturday.

In the 29th minute of the first half, six-in-a-row seeking Kilbride led by 2-6 to 0-3, and their clever tactic of leaving acres of space in front of their talented attackers was paying off in spades.

  However, when Clann pushed up on their opponents in the second half and brought much more intensity to their play, the Kilbride attack was starved of possession and Finbar Egan’s team went on to win the match in tremendous style.

This was a superb advertisement for ladies football in the county, played by two excellent teams who were intent on attack. It was superbly entertaining all through. In perfect weather conditions, Clann enjoyed most of the possession early on, but some poor shooting allied to excellent Kilbride defending and some brilliant counter-attacking saw the defending champions take control.

In the 5th minute, a lightning counter-attack saw Siobhan Martin making a searing run, before Fiona Tully’s high ball was fisted to the net by Niamh Shanagher. Clann hit back with points from Caoimhe Lennon and Rose Lennon (free), but Kilbride struck for another great goal in the 22nd minute. Once again, Fiona Tully did the spadework and Shanagher was on hand to fist to the net again.

With Kilbride following that score with five unanswered points from Aisling Hanly (2), Casey Keane (2) and Fiona Tully, it looked like the title would be returning to Ollie Lennon’s team for a sixth year in a row. Rose Lennon and Kara Earle pointed in injury-time for Clann but the half-time whistle couldn’t come quickly enough for them as they badly needed to regroup. Kilbride on the other hand were cruising and led by 2-6 to 0-5.

But what a transformation from the Johnstown girls in the second half. They were stronger in the tackle and now hunted in packs to secure possession. Ruth Finlass, Jenny Higgins and Caoimhe Lennon were fantastic as the scores began to flow.

In fact Clann scored 2-8 without reply as they turned over Kilbride time after time and attacked relentlessly.

Caoimhe Lennon started the revival in the 32nd minute with a superb goal, and points from Rose Lennon (3), Caoimhe Lennon, Kara Earle and Ruth Finlass saw them forge ahead.

In a brilliant team move in the 46th minute, Kara Earle was released and finished expertly after a mazy run. Now Kilbride were in real trouble. Further points from Mia Macken and Jenny Higgins stretched the Clann lead, and in the 54th minute their victory was all but sealed when Earle finished superbly again, having been set up by Orla O’Neill.

Aisling Hanly did fire home a Kilbride goal in the 56th minute but Clann were home and hosed at that stage and they finished with points from substitute Kayleigh Dunning and player of the match Caoimhe Lennon.

For Clann, Shauna Bannon, Kelley Colgan, Jenny Higgins, Ruth Finlass, Caoimhe Lennon and Kara Earle were outstanding, while for a Kilbride team who have been magnificent champions, Niamh Tully, Siobhan Martin, Niamh Shanagher, Fiona Tully and Aisling Hanly were excellent. But it was Clann’s day and they celebrated in style as Ruth Finlass got her hands on the cup, the first time since 1997 that the club has won a senior title.