Five points was the difference in the end but it could have been all so different for the Clonguish ladies as they were only trailing by two points in the final minutes and were applying the pressure in the Leinster Club Intermediate Championship semi-final at the Ferbane grounds on Saturday last.
The Longford senior champions lost Aisling Greene in the final minute when she was sinbinned and then a poor lineball decision saw Naomh Ciaran keep possession and they scored a killer goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
On the balance of play the Offaly senior champions from the Ferbane area deserved the win but Clonguish (hit by the absence of their captain Marie Brady) made the strong opposition work very hard for a place in the provincial title decider.
Naomh Ciaran used the elements particularly well in the first half and despite midfielder Lorraine Kenna being sinbinned in the 40th minute they contained the Clonguish comeback on the changeover. In those 10 minutes they held the visitors to just one point and added two to their own tally.
Aided by an extremely strong wind in the first half, Naomh Ciaran started brightly and hit over two early points. Clonguish squandered opportunities before they got their first score in the 14th minute when Aisling Greene finished the ball to the net. A nice point followed from Ailbhe McGowan to put them ahead by two in the 16th minute.
Elisha Fleming then hit the crossbar for Naomh Ciaran one minute later before her side got a goal in the 19th minute when the impressive Roisin Egan found the back of the net from a ’45. They were now back in front again and it was a lead they would not relinquish.
In a dominant spell Naomh Ciaran extended their advantage with six unanswered points. Egan was on target twice and also set up two points as her side went in at the break seven points ahead; 1-8 to 1-1.
Clonguish knew they needed scores in the early stages of the second half and Aoife Darcy hit over two points (one free). Naomh Ciaran then lost Lorraine Kenna in the 40th minute when she was sinbinned but despite piling on the pressure and having numerical advantage Clonguish found it hard to get scores.
Roisin Egan hit over a point to put six between them in the 46th minute. Aoife Darcy replied with an excellent point for Clonguish before Aoife Corbett hit over a free to restore the six point advantage for Naomh Ciaran.
Alice Magan worked hard to set up Aoife Darcy for another Clonguish point in the 50th minute and then moments later they got their second goal to cut the gap to just two points; Siobhan McGowan with the pass and Aisling Greene with the finish.
Another great effort from Aoife Darcy left just the minimum of margins in it but Clonguish then lost possession and Lorraine Kenna was able to break to score and put the home side ahead by two.
Try as they might, Clonguish just could not get any more scores and their Leinster title hopes were eventually dashed when Naomh Ciaran got the late, late goal.
NAOMH CIARAN: Lucy Egan; Avril Spain, Orla Daly, Ciara Flynn; Anna Grehan, Emer Nally, Emma Maher; Amy Gavin Mangan (0-1), Lorraine Kenna (0-1); Roisin Egan (1-3, 1f, 1’45), Aoife Covbett (0-4, 1f), Sharon Mannion; Kaithlin Rigney, Elle McEvoy (0-2), Elisha Fleming.
Subs:- Dervla Flynn (1-0) for K Rigney (26 mins); Eimear Flynn for E Fleming (45 mins); Clodagh Sullivan for S Mannion (59 mins).
CLONGUISH: Jessica Stewart; Anne Burke, Sinead Macken, Niamh Darcy; Caitriona Moore, Lynn Gregg, Mairead Moore; Siobhan McGowan, Ailbhe McGowan (0-1); Alice Magan, Aoife Darcy (0-5, 1f), Una Shanley; Aisling Greene (2-0), Cliona Allen, Clodagh Coppinger.
Referee: Colm McManus (Meath).