Corofin 2-10 – TÝr na nËg (Antrim) 1-8
Dermot Hogan of the Clare People reports from Corofin
Approaching Corofin GAA field it was evident something special was in the air. The village itself was covered in red and white while parades of natives young and old made their way to see their club’s special day.
Entering, what for a day matched any sporting arena around the world in terms of atmosphere, one immediately noticed the loudspeaker hammering out what must have a collection of Ireland’s greatest every rebel song. Whether this was for the enjoyment of the travelling Antrim supporters or a tool of inspiration and motivation it didn’t matter, the tone of what was to come in this battle was established.
When the game finally got underway it took a mere 30 seconds for Corofin to put their mark on the scoreboard. Claire Commane took responsibly of the first free of this encounter, in front of the posts and she was never going to miss. The positive start had been found.
A minute later however and TÝr na nËg settled too. Their number eleven repeated the feat and pointed an equally impressive free. This knockout fight was going to go the distance.
The first half continued in this manner for the entire thirty minutes. Every score for one team was matched by the other. The lead was swapped over and back and the loud supporters of both sides could not, like the players, take their eye of the ball for even a second. The scoreboard continued to increase only due to the incredible duel between Commane and Michaela Convery. Their free taking ability was immense. The odd punts from play that they managed were even more impressive.
The final five minutes of the half saw the away side crucially pop over two on the trot. Convery’s first arrived in the form of a free near the sideline while the second was a 45 that split the posts in her typical stylish manner to crucially leave Corofin trailing by a solidarity score at half-time on a score of 0-6 to 0-5.
The second half needed an immediate Corofin response and that’s what they achieved. Two more frees in quick fire succession restored a lead for the Clare representatives that they would hold onto for the remainder of the hard fought clash. Obviously at this stage Commane was never going to fail to take an opportunity.
Both Commane’s day and Corofin’s year got a lot better however in a result sealing eight minute period. In this purple patch the awesome attacker found the net on two occasions. The first came from a set play that for once she was not standing over herself. Muireann Kelleher’s free landed perfectly into the outstretched arms of the warrior that is Edel Keating.
Under great pressure she broke free to unleash a powerfully driven pass low into the full forward line. Commane took control from here. Her initial first time strike was stopped but her follow through was not and the green flag caused an eruption of sounds of joy that’s probably still echoing around north Clare.
The second three pointer came after fifty minutes. A piece of pure skill and opportunism saw Commane sneak in and flick the ball out of the TÝr na nËg’s goalkeeper’s grasp just as she readied herself to make a clearance. Corofin got to its feet as she rounded the helpless Emma O’Neill before driving the sliotar over the goal line.
Victory was surely sailed with ten minutes to go, or was it? The northern outfit manged the next two scores. Of course it was Convery who carried out the honours. The first was a free from 30m that some expected to be goal bound. It wasn’t though and just the point was taken. Her desire for a goal quickly intensified moments later however. A magnificent march forward through the Corofin rearguard was always going to end in only one outcome.
Her fabulous almost sniper-like shot rifled into the top corner of the Corofin goal.
Now the home spectators were abruptly feeling a bit more nervous. Five minutes left and only four points in it, anything could happen. Thankfully it didn’t. Some last ditch heroics in defense prevented the concession of another score but they did find another for themselves in the 61st minute. Commane gleefully put the icing on the cake with her ninth free of the match.
This left the final score at 2-10 to 1-8. The final whistle saw a stampede of Corofin die-hards onto the pitch. There was no plan B only floods of congratulations and respect for the very deserving women who just made history for the club. If All-Ireland glory can now be found in the following weeks it will be Corofin, rather than their appropriately named semi-final opposition, that will find their place in the land of GAA eternal youth and beauty.
Carmel Tierney (7), Neasa Carkill (7), Lisa Clancy (7), Donna Courtney (7), Brenda O’Donoghue (7), Muireann Kelleher (8), Niamh Shannon (7), Edel Keating (8), Niamh O’Dea (9), Linda McMahon (7), Claire Commane (10) (2-9, 9f), Aislinn Kelleher (7), Aoife Davoren (7) (0-1), Marie Rafferty (7), Caitriona McMahon
Subs Maeve Davoren (6) for Shannon, Siobhan Keller (6) for McMahon,
Caitriona Kelleher (6) for Davoren
TÝr na nËg
Emma O’Neill (7), Kelly O’Neill (7), Aine McNicholl (7), Aine Sherrin (7), Siobhan Poulter (6), Sarah McNicholl (7), Dervla O’Neill (7), Sandra Wilson (7), Shaune O’Neill (7), Bernaden Letters (7), Michaela Convery (9) (1-8, 5f, 2 45s), Orla Carey (7), Emma McQuillan (6), Ciara Heffron (6), Aimee McAtamney (7)
Subs Orla O’Neill (6) for Poulter
Player of the match
Claire Commane (Corofin)
Referee Eadhmonn Mac Suibhne (Dublin)