First Intermediate title for Clans

Clan Na Gael 3-7 Naomh Fionbarra 2-8

There was more county final heartbreak for Nh. Fionbarra as Clan Na Gael took the Intermediate title for the first time at a sun-drenched Stabannon on Saturday afternoon

This year’s  Louth LGFA Championship has produced many outstanding matches this season and this Intermediate final was no exception.

The famous Dundalk club hit a tally  of 2-1 between the ninth and eleventh minute which  proved crucial to the final outcome.

Early points from Cara McKeever and Denise McKenna got the ball rolling for Clans while Aideen Dunne got  Finbarrs on the scoreboard before the Togher side had a chance to take the lead as Ciara McMahon was fouled. After consulting with his linesman Referee Kevin Carroll awarded the penalty which McMahon scored at the second attempt after Clans keeper Mia Rogers had pushed out her first attempt in the sixth minute. After Ciara Woods had a Clans point, the Dundalk side hit two goals inside sixty seconds, the first coming as Alannagh McLaughlin scored a sensational goal after a great run through the heart of the Finbarrs defence and sending a brilliant shot beyond Annmaree Breen.

Shortly after  Breen was again picking the ball out of the with McLaughlin playing a key role as she turned provider setting up Denise McKenna to hammer into the net.

A fine score by Woods extended the lead to six, but Finbarrs with ex Louth goal keeper Stuart Reynolds issuing instructions from the sideline fought back strongly as an Amy Grant  effort was parried by the Clans keeper with Laura Sharkey picking up the rebound and firing a superb shot into the net from a difficult angle just before the water break to make it 2-4 to 2-1

McMahon hit another well taken point before Clans replied with arguably the game’s best score, a superb  long range point from ex Dublin star McKenna.

McMahon and Woods then swapped points giving Clans a 2-6 to 2-3 lead at the break.

Clans extended their lead shortly after the resumption when Ciera Woods won possession from a ’45’ and rifled  a wonderful shot to net. Denise McKenna from a free put Clans seven clear on forty minutes in what was the pre-match favourites  last score.

Last year’s beaten finalists then played then played their best football  of the day as Laura Sharkey, Ciera McMahon (2), Marie Doyle and Ellen Butterly all raised white flags to set up a frantic finish.

Finbarrs did create a number of other chances but were unable to get the scores to force extra time against a strong Clans defence.

After the game Clan Na Gael defender and player of the match Therese Curran  spoke of her delight at the outcome; “Who would’ve thought 7 years ago when the Clans committee decided to put together a ladies football team that we’d be here as Intermediate champions and promoted to senior football.

I was captain when we won Junior B against a hearty Cuchullain Gaels team and there is still a lot of that team playing now that played that game.

The Barr’s are a fantastic outfit they threw everything and the kitchen sink at us, especially in the last 10 minutes they never gave up, they really could’ve snatched it in the end but thankfully we held on!

Our forwards have been talked about all season and rightly so, they are clinical in front of goals and many teams have had to play two sweepers in front of them, but I do think our defence has been super all season and especially today I think it won us the game. The Barr’s forwards are accurate and fast and we knew we would have our work cut out for us.

From their keeper out, there is not one weak link and it really showed yesterday they were super.

It’s an amazing team that has been boosted by the likes of Pam, Denise, Janine and Emily over the last few years but to the younger girls that are coming up from minor competing for team places it’s a brilliant thing driving into training and seeing 25+ girls at training.

Getting player of the match was a great personal achievement, we went out with a job to do and thankfully we were the right side of the end whistle.

We are all delighted to be back playing with our friends this year after what has been a surreal  few months. We’ll make the most of the celebrations we can.

On another note, I just want to say how fantastic it is to have such a presence of social media and how brilliant the streaming has been. I have family down in Kerry who have watched all the games and text me afterwards, it’s deadly” added the Clans defender.

Clan Na Gael; Mia Rogers, Tina McKeever, Daramay Fitzpatrick, Therese Curran, Sinead McGill, Kathy O’Reilly, Janine Kelly, Pamela Campbell, Denise McKenna, 1-03, Alannagh McLaughlin 1-00, Shannen McLaughlin, Grace Smith, Cara McKeever 0-01, Ciara Woods 1-03, Emily Norton. Subs used; Deirbhle Tinnelly, Sinead O’Hagan, Gillian Reilly

Nh. Fionbarra; Anne Marie Breen , Leah Cassidy, Niamh Devlin, Katie McArdle, Sophie Turley, Marie Claire Rogers, Roisin Osbourne, Amy Grant, Heather Rogers, Aideen Dunne 0-01, Marie Doyle 0-01, Leanne Sharkey, Laura Sharkey 1-01, Ciara McMahon 1-04, Marianne Hullen. Subs used; Ellen Butterley, 0-01,Marie Butterley

Report by Dermot Woods