THE Clara ladies season came to an end at home on Saturday with a defeat at the hands of stylish Dublin side St Sylvester’s.
Offaly champions for the first time in their debut season, Clara were undone by a far more experienced outfit lead superbly by Sinead Aherne.
The full-forward, who captained Dublin to All Ireland glory in 2010, kicked a string of fine points and was a thorn in Clara’s side all day however her influence was curbed when Janelle Gowran was moved back to pick her up.
The final score suggests that it was all one way traffic but that was not the case as Clara battled from start to finish and on another day their efforts could have been rewarded with more than a solitary point. A lot of credit must go to the St Sylvester’s full-back Aoife O’Flynn who twice cleared off her line when her goalkeeper was beaten.
Most of the damage was done in the first-half as the Dublin side scored 3-6 with 2-6 coming in the first 15 minutes. Clara did come into the game more as it went on but the damage was already done.
While it was a disappointing end to their campaign for the Offaly side, they can look back on the year with pride and can look forward to next year where they will compete at a higher level in the county which will help them progress as a side.
As well as the impressive Janelle Gowran, Clara were best served by Emma Quinn, their midfield partnership of Trease McManus and Triona McDonald, Anne Marie Owens and full-forward Maria Kelly who ran tirelessly all day.
Again in front of a large number of proud, cheering supporters, Clara were rocked in the opening minutes conceding two goals inside the first six minutes.
A point from a free Sinead Aherne was followed by a goal for Emer Tracey who was set up by fine pass from Aherne.
With Clara still reeling from that score, the Dublin side struck for a second goal when Nicola Owens found the back of the net.
The scores kept coming for St Sylvester’s in the early going with Meave Killen scoring one and Sinead Aherne adding four, two of the them spectacular efforts from what looked like impossible angles.
That left Clara trailing by 2-6 to 0-0 after 15 minutes but they began to get a foothold in the game and mounted a series of attacks but were not rewarded on the scoreboard.
At the other end they kept St Sylvester’s scoreless for 16 minutes but just before half-time they conceded a third goal when Emer Tracey added her second of the half.
After half-time St Sylvester’s added another brace with each midfielder getting on the board.
Clara were on top at this stage in terms of territory and possession but they just couldn’t get the scores on the board. Twice the ball went past the Dublin side’s ‘keeper but twice full-back Aoife O’Flynn was on the line to clear the danger
In a rare attack in the second-half, Sinead Aherne extended her side’s lead with a well taken point off her left foot.
With ten minutes remaining, Clara eventually got on the board when Jesse O’Connor pointed a free which was greeted by the loudest cheer of the day.
In the closing minutes Meave Killen added a point for St Sylvester’s before Clara were again denied a goal this time when Maria Kelly’s shot was blocked.
The final score of the game was a goal for the Dublin side when the impressive Nicola Owens added her second goal.
Clara: Jesse O’Connor 0-1f
St Sylvester’s: Emer Tracey 2-0; Nicola Owens 2-0; Sinead Aherne 0-6 (0-2f); Maeve Killen 0-2; Sinead Tracey 0-1; Niamh McEvoy 0-1
Clara: 2 (0 1st half)
St Sylvester’s: 14 (8 1st half)
Clara: 1 (Ann Marie Owens)
St Sylvester’s: 2 (Niamh Harney, Yasmin Sung)
Clara: Ashling Seery; Emma Quinn, Emer Rickard, Sarah Jane Owens; Lisa Conway, Michelle Handy, Janelle Gowran; Trease McManus, Triona McDonald; Anne Marie Owens, Martina Gannon, Lisa Stewart; Fallen Bracken, Maria Kelly, Jesse O’Connor. Subs: Aideen Brennan for Lisa Stewart (7mins) (inj); Ciathlin Sheridan for Emma Quinn (35mins), Karen Monaghan for Lisa Conway (57mins)
St Sylvester’s: Lisa McIntyre; Michelle Walls, Aoife O’Flynn, Niamh Harney; Leah Harold. Kim White, Yasmin Sung; Sinead Tracey, Niamh McEvoy; Mel Flanagan, Meave Killen, Emer Treacey; Louise Ryan, Sinead Aherne, Nicola Owens. Subs: Diane McIhagga for Mel Flanagan (42mins), Lucia Hughes for Yasmin Sung (45mins), Emma Sullivan for Emer Treacy (58mins), Carol Hickey for Maeve Killen (51mins), Emma Lynch for Michele Walls (55mins)
Referee: Tommy O’Donohue (Longford)
See this week’s Offaly Express for further photographic coverage