Late Miley goal seals league title for Clara
Stunner from Sarah secures league honours for Clara after thrilling battle with Valleymount
A stunning late goal from Clara’s Sarah Miley proved to be enough to secure the league honours for her side after a tremendous battle with Valleymount in Blessington last Thursday evening.
Unbeaten in their seven league games to date, things were looking decidedly unhealthy for Brian Olohan’s charges when Valleymount struck for a devastating 3-3 inside of the first 16 minutes with majors from the boots of Amanda Carroll (two) and Caroline Cahill that could well have destroyed a team’s confidence and paved the way for a certain victory for the Valleymount side.
Clara boss Brian Olohan says that once they got over the shocking start, they settled down well and got to work.
‘After we got over the heart attack of the first 10 or 15 minutes the girls settled down and got stuck in and got back to basics, because we gave away three soft goals, in my opinion. We battled hard and went in at the break one point up and then Valleymount came back in the second half, but the girls stuck with it and kept working. We’ve worked on a lot of things over the year but they all went out the window today, that happens in finals. It’s all about setting up for championship against Valleymount now, that’s all that matters.
‘We’re unbeaten in the league, we won the first seven games, top two play off and we came out on top. My thoughts were it would have been very unfair not to win the league after winning all seven games. But it was a tough game, and we had a tough game against Valleymount at home in the league as well, only won by four points and we were going well so we know what’s ahead of us in the championship,’ he said.
The concession of three early goals could well have floored his charges. Olohan says that there is great spirit in the camp and that their recovery is a sign of really good players.
‘The spirit in that bunch is great. We talked about how teams will at times get on top and het ahead of you and have purple patches and all that and to just keep at it, keep at it, keep at it, and they dig in even more once they fell behind and that’s a sign of good people and good players,’ he added.
Valleymount’s Emer Miley was the first goalkeeper called into action in this game when she saved from the boot of Caitlin Olohan in the opening exchanges. Miley would go on to have a serious game between the sticks, pulling off numerous excellent saves and picking out her colleagues with sublimely accurate kick outs.
Lauren Carter grabbed the opening score after being picjed out by full-forward Sarah Miley with 60 seconds on the clock, but Saoirse Ní Thuathail replied after good work from Sieve Byrne.
A free won and converted by Sarah Miley after a foul on full-back Ali Miley (wearing number six) returned Clara to the lead but the first of Valleymont’s goals arrived after six minutes when Amanda Carroll finished coolly to the bottom corner of Aoife Byrne’s net.
Worse, much worse was to follow for Clara. Impressive full-forward Caroline Cahill went wide with a goal chance a minute later but then picked up a breaking ball in the next attack and lobbed in a shot off her left that Aoife Byrne will know she should have gathered but the ball ended up in the back of the net – 2-1 to 0-1 after eight.
Much of Valleymount’s possession and threat was coming from the dynamism and hard work of midfielder Sieve Byrne who was toiling hard out the field on a lovely evening for football.
Amy Burke won a free which Saoirse Ní Thuathail pointed but Lauren Carter exchanged with Sarah Miley at the other end to reduce the deficit ever so slightly with 11 gone.
The recovery continued three minutes later when Carter lobbed Emer Miley with a stunning effort to drag Clara kicking and screaming back into this game at 2-2 to 1-3.
But disaster was a close friend of the Clara defence in the opening quarter and Amanda Carroll’s second goal was followed swiftly by a fine point from Sarah Richardson to leave the west side up by six at 3-3to1-3.
Full credit to Clara, they never once took a backward step. Heather Cullen, Lauren Carter and Ava Carter reduced the deficit to three points after 28 minutes and in the space of 180 seconds Clara were a point ahead after a wicked Sarah Miley goal that flew low and hard past Emer Miley and a point from the same boot after Emer Miley had saved superbly from an effort on goal to leave Clare leading by 2-7 to 3-3 after a stunning 10-minute spell.
Valleymount returned to the front in emphatic style early in the second with points from Amy Burke (free) and Caroline Cahill before Burke pounced on a poor kick out to fire home her side’s fourth goal. And it could have and should have been worse with Sarah Richardson missing a wonderful goal chance moments later.
Onwards the battle raged. Where Valleymount had been dominant, now it was the turn of Clara. Laura Clake started the revival with a fine point after a long run. Lauren Carter goaled to level the game at 3-8 to 4-5 and then on they drove with two points from Sarah Miley.
Some of the football might not have been the finest ever played but for tension and drama this game had it all.
Amanda Carroll brought Valleymount to within a point before Aopife Byrne put all those nightmares iun the first half behind her by making a superb catch after 22 to prevent a Valleymounty goal.
The west side did level moments later through Katie Maguire from a free but an exchange of points from Lauren Carter and Maguire was followed by Katie Miley’s late goal that flew into the top corner of Emer Miley’s net to leave it 4-11 to 4-8.
Back came Valleymount with two points from Caroline Cahill, the first of which she might have had the time and space to power on in search of a major but the full-forward no doubt believed she would have the time and opportunity to at least secure a draw and she came oh so close.
Alas, time ran out and the final whistle sounded to the delight and relif of the Clara women after a serious battle between two very evenly matched sides who will meet in the championship on Thursday week.
That should be an epic encounter! Clara manager Brian Olohan said that at times there was lovely football played and that he would have to question the tackle rule in ladies football.
‘At times (lovely football). It was a little bit stop-starty at times and I have to question that tackle in ladies football.
‘It’s a little bit loose, a bit vague and open to interpretation at times. Our girls like it tough, and Valleymount do as well, but when the game was allowed to flow, we played well.
‘We were restricted a bit with Sarah Miley carrying an inury so we had to sit her inside. Ideally, we’d like her a bit further out the field, but you can see the damage she does inside as well. Some great scores from all around the field, as did Valleymount,’ he added.
Scorers – Clara: Sarah Miley 2-4 (1f), Lauren Carter 2-4, Heather Cullen 0-1, Ava Carter 0-1, Laura Clarke 0-1.
Valleymount: Amanda Carroll 2-1, Caroline Cahill 1-3, Amy Burke 1-2 (2f), Saoirse Ní Thuathail 0-2 (1f), Sarah Richardson 0-1, Katie Maguire 0-1.
The Clara team who defeated Valleymount in the league final in Blessington last week. Both sides will meet in the first round of the championship next weekend.
Clara captain Maria Hogan, match referee John Bermingham and Valleymount captain Eimear Kavanagh.