Sunday 19th March
in Clonlara, Co. Clare
Referee: Liz Dempsey (Kilkenny)
Limerick secured their third successive Littlewoods Ireland Camogie Leagues Division 1 semi-final place with a hard fought 1-13 to 1-12 win over Clare in Clonlara on Sunday. In a closely fought game Limerick never led by more than three points and in the end were hanging on to prevail by the narrowest margin.
Clare opened the scoring from a Chloe Morey free but this was cancelled out by one from Limerick captain Niamh Mulcahy. Limerick had the best of the early possession and points from Rebecca Delee and Laura Stack opened an early lead for Limerick which was then pegged back by Chloe Morey again from placed ball.
On the quarter hour mark a dynamic passing move from Clare involving the excellent Niamh O'Dea, who was a threat throughout, found Regan Conway in space in front of goal. She found the back of the net with a strong strike giving Limerick keeper Claire Keating no chance to give Clare a two point lead.
Limerick responded well and two points from Mairead Fitzgerald in the next five minutes wiped out Clare's lead. Limerick took the lead on 23 minutes when Caoimhe Costelloe, who was impressive in the middle of the field, put a long range shot straight over the bar.
Limerick were on top in this period and two frees converted by Niamh Mulcahy stretched the lead to three, however a late point from Roisin McMahon for Clare cut Limerick's lead at the break to two points. Limerick 0-8(8) Clare 1-3(6)
After the break Limerick opened the scoring when Niamh Mulcahy pointed from a free. However it was Clare who started brighter after the break and two frees from Chloe Morey and two points from play from the dynamic Niamh O'Dea put Clare back in front.
Limerick levelled when Niamh Mulcahy pointed from a penalty awarded after Laura Stack was pulled down in the area. It was tit for tat for the next period as neither side were able to pull away. Mairead Fitzgerald added a third point to her tally for the day and, following a point from Andrea O'Keefe for Clare, Niamh Mulcahy levelled again for Limerick to leave the score 0-12 to 1-9.
It looked like Limerick had scored the decisive goal when Rebecca Delee burst through the Clare defence and, though losing her feet, she stretched to kick the ball into the back of the net.
Clare were reduced to 14 players shortly after when Roisin McMahon was sent off for a second yellow card but, as seems to often happen, this galvanised the Clare players and Chloe Morey scored three points in the final five minutes to one for Limerick to narrow their lead to a solitary point.
Clare had two chances to level the game in the final stages but Chloe Morey, who had been accurate to that point from placed balls, put both wide of the posts. Limerick held on to secure their place in the semi-finals by 1-13 to 1-12.
Limerick were ultimately left to rue some wasted chances in front of goal and some indiscipline in conceeding unneccessary frees. John Tuohy and management will, however, take heart from the increasing number of players stepping up to share the scoring duties with Niamh Mulcahy, including Mairead Fitzgerald with 0-3 and Rebecca Delee 1-1. Also there were impressive performances from some of the younger players notably Marian Quaid at corner back and minor Laura Stack at corner forward.
A tougher challenge awaits as they face Galway in a top of the table clash in the final round on 1st April. This will determine their semi-final opponents as will the games on the other side of the draw as, though Cork and Kilkenny are in poll position to qualify, Wexford and Tipperary still have a chance of progressing.
Niamh Mulcahy 0-7 (7 frees), Rebecca Delee 1-1, Mairead Fitzgerald 0-3, Laura Stack 0-1, Caoimhe Costelloe 0-1
Chloe Morey 0-8 (6 frees), Regan Conway 1-0, Niamh O'Dea 0-2, Roisin McMahon 0-1, Andrea O'Keeffe 0-1
Limerick Team: Claire Keating (Cappamore), Marian Quaid (Bruff), Muireann Creamer (Cappamore), Mairead Ryan (Clooney Quin), Niamh Richardson (Murroe Boher), Sarah Carey (Granagh Ballingarry), Judith Mulcahy (Ahane), Karen O'Leary (Newcastle West), Caoimhe Costelloe (Adare), Deborah Murphy (Knockaderry), Rebecca Delee (Newcastle West), Niamh Mulcahy - capt. (Ahane), Laura Stack (Milford), Sarah Collins (Crecora), Mairead Fitzgerald (Granagh Ballingarry)
Subs: Caoimhe Lyons (Monaleen) for Sarah Collins, Chloe O'Brien (Ballyagran) for Laura Stack, Sinead McNamara (Na Piarsaigh) for Niamh Richardson, Dearbhla Egan (Crecora) for Mairead Fitzgerald