By Shaun Casey
CLANN ÉIREANN and Carrickcruppen meet on Sunday in the replay of the Armagh Ladies Senior Championship final following last weekend’s dramatic draw. With time almost up, the Lurgan ladies led by three points but ‘Cruppen were handed a lifeline when they were awarded a late penalty.
Up stepped Carrickcruppen stalwart Caroline O’Hanlon and she sent a rocket to the top corner to force a replay.
“We were three down at half time and came in and went ahead by three (in the second half),” said Clann Éireann boss James Daly, who also led Fermanagh to the Junior All-Ireland final this season.
“To be honest I didn’t see the penalty, my girls are saying it wasn’t but sure you don’t expect any of them to say it was.”
Clann Éireann were the better team throughout and dominated possession, but just couldn’t get the scores that would put the game out of reach, despite outscoring the opposition 0-8 to 1-2 in the second half, having come from three down at the break.
Carrickcruppen’s defensive game plan “stifled” Clann Éireann according to Daly, as they found it hard to break down.
“Credit where credit’s due, ‘Cruppen dug in and they had a very defensive game-plan, and they stifled us. We only scored 11 points and that’s low by our standards.
“It’s a draw, they got seven scores, but they scored two goals. We were the better team, but it doesn’t matter, it’s what the scoreboard says, and you have to take your scores. They got a goal very, very late goal off a penalty and you have to play to the final whistle.”
Daly’s girls have been terrific all season with county stars Clodagh McCambridge, Cait Towe, Niamh Coleman and Tiarna Grimes all leading the line. Clann Éireann have already bagged one piece of silverware after delivering a flawless league campaign where they won all ten of their outings to claim the title.
They will once again be strong favourites heading into Sunday’s replay, which can weigh heavily on their shoulders suggests Daly.
“Favourites tags are not always easy to carry, it’s about going out and winning the game. We haven’t lost a game all year and people would have been getting carried away that we’d do this, and we’d do that.
“But ‘Cruppen have been in 13 of the last 15 county finals so they’ve a good set up, a good team, good players and they came out here with a game-plan and they stifled us, and they got away with it.
“We all fight for another day and we’re all looking forward to that now. We’ll try to sharpen it up a wee bit this week, work on a few things and maybe try to make better decisions next week.
“I thought we played much better in the second half than we did in the first, but we’ll go again, and it’ll start off 0-0 next weekend.”