Cavan 2-17 Na Fianna 2-9
In the first Annie Kearney ladies semifinal on Sunday, Cavan used the undoubted talents of the full forward line tandem of Emma Clarke and Niamh Walsh who accounted for 1-10 to secure the win. Clarke was in midseason form, but not just in front of goal as she roamed across the field to help out her teammates when things got a little rough midway through the second half. Over the hour, Cavan were full value for their win as they had seven players on the score sheet, with Nora Kilkenny making a couple of very timely stops at the defensive end.
Cavan opened the game with the first point from Clarke, but it was immediately cancelled out by a Mary Brady penalty goal after Brianna Tierney was fouled. Kelly McCormack followed with a lovely point but Cavan started to come into the game with a string of points.
Walsh, Rosie O’Reilly, Clarke with two, and Kelly Donoghue all hit the mark to push the side into a 0-06 to 1-02 lead. When Tierney hit the mark on 15 minutes the sides were level.
Na Fianna were living dangerously, however, as Cavan had also hit the crossbar twice with crackers from Walsh and Clarke coming back of woodwork. Further points from Clarke and the impressive Sarah Murphy had the Breffni girls ahead 0-9 to 1-4 at the short whistle.
Cavan extended their advantage to open the second half with a penalty goal of their own when Walsh was fouled and Clarke made no mistake with the kick.
Four of the next five scores were Cavan’s, as they extended their advantage to 1-13 to 1-5. Clarke had four of the scores with sub Ashley Callery hitting the other.
It was at this time that Na Fianna had their best period of the contest. They fired over four of the next five points, with Molly O’Rourke excellent. She had three of the scores, but the side was also denied a goal by a brave Kilkenny save from a Mary O’Rourke shot.
Against the run of play, Cavan had a Mairead Ruane goal when she was set free by Walsh. It was almost immediately cancelled out by a Mairead Durkin goal when Molly O’Rourke set her up.
It was the last time, however, as Cavan reacted positively. Points from Clarke, Walsh and Rosie O’Reilly closed the win and game out.
Cavan had numerous stars in the victory. Nora Kilkenny was excellent. Her two stops in the second half were extremely timely. Aoife O’Rourke and Caroline McBrien were impressive in the back line, with Mairead Ruane having a very good game in the middle of the park.
Sarah Murphy and Emma Clarke are the ringleaders up front. Their talents are tremendous. Clarke is an outstanding forward when on the form she was in on Sunday. The help they received from Donoghue, O’Reilly and Walsh on Sunday was crucial. All scored two points and had valuable contributions in open play.
For Na Fianna, Kayla Coughlin did little wrong and could not be faulted for the goals. Shannon Spillane, Margaret Brady who is turning into an excellent player, Kelly McCormack and the always strong Molly O’Rourke all had positive contributions. Mary O’Rourke was exceptional off the bench.
Na Fianna: 1 Kayla Coughlin, 2 Caitlin McWeeney, 3 Cathriona Lynch, 5 Shannon Spillane (0-1), 6 Stephanie Tierney, 7 Imelda Mullarkey, 8 Margaret Brady (1-0), 9 Kathleen Durkin, 10 Katie Murphy, 11 Brianna Tierney (0-1), 12 Kelly McCormack (0-1), 13 Mairead Durkin (1-0), 14 Molly O’Rourke (0-3). Subs: Mary O’Rourke (0-3), Kiera O’Connor.
Cavan: 1 Nora Kilkenny, 2 Ciara Scally, 4 Cathriona Raftery, 5 Katie Kilkenny, 6 Aoife O’Rourke, 7 Caroline McBrien, 8 Caitlin Hynes, 9 Mairead Ruane (1-0), 10 Kelly Donoghue (0-2), 11 Sarah Murphy (0-2), 12 Rosie O’Reilly (0-2), 13 Niamh Walsh (0-2), 15 Emma Clarke (1-8). Subs: Caitlin McKenna, Ashley Callery (0-1).
Player of the Game: Emma Clarke (Cavan).