Inagh 5-4 Tara, London 2-4
Tara’s dream of becoming the first London club to capture the Phil McBride trophy was shattered by the concession of three goals midway through the second half of an entertaining decider in Ashbourne on Sunday.
The London champions were still very much in contention when ace sharpshooter, Denise Gilligan split the posts to leave just two points behind the sides in the 45th minute.
However, the issue was put beyond doubt by Inagh’s three-goal blitz, which ultimately sealed their impressive nine-point victory over the three-in-a-row London champions
This was the fourth time since 2005 that a Clare club had reached the Junior Club All-Ireland final.
Newmarket in 2005, Kilnamona in 2008 and Corofin last year had contested the final but lost out to Down champions, Leitrim Fontenoys; Laois kingpins, Harps and Roscommon champions, Four Roads respectively.
Inagh were somewhat lucky just to concede a point in the 45th minute leaving them just two points ahead 2-3 to 1-4. Inagh custodian, Brid McCarthy was quick off her line to cut out the danger posed by a speculative shot from the hard working Angela Kenneally.
However, the advancing keeper was unable to make a long clearance and when the sliotar spilled to Denise Gilligan she drilled it over the bar when there was no one between the posts.
The game was still in the melting pot until Inagh raised three green flags in a blistering six-minute spell between the 18th and 24th minute of the second period. Inagh wing forward Patricia O’Loughlin reacted quickest following a Fiona Lattery free on the 45 metre line and drilled an unstoppable drive to the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Inagh full forward Helen Hehir rattled the net4 following an Emily Lynch cross before corner forward Tara Rynne sealed the issue by tapping into the net after Helen Hehir’s powerful drive came off the crossbar.
Tara tried hard to create a goal scoring opportunity at the other end from a Denise Gilligan free but the rock solid Inagh defence cleared the sliotar to safety.
Fiona Lafferty converted a free before Denise Gilligan took the bare look off the scoreboard when her lob from a 45 metre free bounced and spun into the net for a late consolation goal two minutes into injury time.
The only chink in Inagh’s armour emerged less than two minutes after the throw-in when Tara grabbed their only score of the opening half a well taken goal. Angela Kenneally, who spent most of the first half operating as a seventh defender, sent a probing cross across the Inagh full back line which Grace Hamilton batted into the net.
Fiona Lattery grabbed a point from play and Inagh’s nerves were settled when corner forward Emily Lynch found the net after a long delivery from Fiona Lafferty. Aided by a strong breeze, Inagh won plenty of possession but five first half wides ensured they only led by 1-3 to 1-0 following two converted Fiona Lafferty frees, which they should have been at least six points in front.
After the change of ends, the Inagh defence where full back Siobhßn Lafferty, centre back Christina Glynn and wing back Patricia McCarthy excelled, worked extremely hard making clearance into the strong breeze.
Craughwell native and Tara full forward Denise Gilligan, who bagged 1-6 out of out their 2-6 tally in their semi-final win over Leinster champions Myshall was well held by Siobhßn Lafferty until she moved outfield for possession in the last quarter.
Brid Grennan and Meadh Brennan worked hard throughout, Angela Kenneally looked dangerous anytime she won possession while Siobhßn Convery was unlucky her endeavour wasn’t rewarded with at least one goal.
Inagh duo SinÚad and Rose-Ann O’Loughlin, who worked tirelessly at midfield throughout began to gain a grip in this sector and this provided plenty of possession for their colleagues up front to exploit gaps in the Tara rearguard.
In spite of picking up a heavy knock on her hand in the 35th minute, Fiona Lafferty recovered to take an inch perfect pass from Patricia O’Loughlin before she rattled the net to leave Inagh six points ahead in the 39th minute.
However, Tara hit back with four points on the trot from Angela Kenneally (2) and Denise Gilligan (2) leaving just two points between the sides at the three quarter way stage.
Tara hadn’t bargained for the three-goal blitz, which left them reeling and ensured the McBride Cup was Clare bound for the first time.
TEAM: BrÝd McCarthy; Jennifer Griffen, Siobhßn Lafferty, Gillian Lafferty; Noelle Arthur, Christina Glynn, Patricia McCarthy; SinÚad O’Loughlin, (captain) Rose-Ann O’Loughlin; Sharon Rynne, Fiona Lafferty, Patricia O’Loughlin; Emily Lynch, Helen Hehir, Tara Rynne.
SCORERS: Fiona Lafferty (1-4, 0-3 from frees), Patricia O’Loughlin, Emily Lynch, Helen Hehir, Tara Rynne (1-0, each).
FREES FOR: 14; WIDES: 7; 45’S: 1
TEAM: Niamh Dolan; Niamh Keating, Ann Gleeson, Sheila Fernandes; Catherine Higgins, Bid Grennan, Karen Fitzpatrick; Meabh Brennan, Rosie Cusack; Joanne Hamilton, Helen Murphy, Yvonne Donnelly; Angela Kenneally, Denise Gilligan (captain), Grace Hamilton.
SCORERS: Denise Gilligan (1-1, 1-0 from a ’45), Grace Hamilton (1-0), Angela Kenneally (0-2).
SUBS: Siobhßn Convery, 23 mins for Joanne Hamilton, Joni Traynor 45 mins for Karen Fitzpatrick, Donna Gallery 54 mins for Catherine Higgins, Susanna Gill 54 mins for Sheila Fernandes.
FREES FOR: 14, WIDES: 4, æ45’S: 1
REFEREE: Donal Ryan (Dublin)