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15th Aug 2023

Kildare captain Grace Clifford gives powerful speech on the steps of the Hogan Stand


By Eoin Brennan 

Kildare manager Diane O’Hora was relieved that they managed to survive a late Clare rally in the TG4 All-Ireland intermediate final at Croke Park. 

Kildare looked to be coasting to the title when they took an eight point lead into the closing ten minutes but two goals for Clare set up a thrilling finish. 

“We absolutely got out of jail,” said O’Hora. “The late goals were just a miscommunication in defence but at the same time, you have to look at it and say ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get’.

“I mean this team has a never-say-die attitude all year and they’ve had so many things up against them in games but still came out on top. 

“They were an eight point better team today bar two mistakes in the whole entire match. So we’re delighted that we got a positive outcome in the end. 

“I was really happy with most of the match as we were controlling it really well. Granted there are a lot of opportunities we missed today that we’d normally put over but they managed the first half really well and most of the second half too. 

“What’s really important to me is that they’ve won everything, they’ve won every competition that they possibly could this year and that’s really hard to do so I couldn’t be more proud today.” 

Winning captain Grace Clifford, meanwhile, gave a passionate and powerful speech on the steps of the Hogan Stand.

“We’ve won the League, the Leinster and the All-Ireland,” she said, “these things don’t happen often.”

“So look, we’re proud Lillies, we’re going to senior, let’s see everyone back in Clane. Up the Lillies,” she concluded, as you can watch below.

First half goals from Trina Duggan and Ellen Dowling left Kildare ahead by 2-6 to 0-5 at the break before the Banner backlash was ignited in the 52nd minute when Chloe Moloney’s free was parried by Mary Hulgraine, only for Fidelma Marrinan to flick the rebound to the net. 

Then three minutes later Moloney got a deft flick to a Ciara McCarthy delivery to find the net and tee up a grandstand finish, which came up agonisingly short for Clare manager Wayne Freeman. 

“It’s disappointing as we just left it a little too late,” he said. “We knew we’d create chance eventually but maybe just the nerves got to us a bit in the first half. Kildare just looked fresher early on. Now both teams are both extremely fit and there was probably no difference between their fitness levels but they just looked fitter than us. 

“In the second half, we got to a new level of pace and we started to play much better. We got our two goals and could have got a few more scores but in the end it was just not enough.  

“Look, I’ve so much admiration for the Clare girls. I can’t speak highly enough about them and am extremely proud of them. We set out at the start of the year to play every fixture possible and that’s what we’ve done as we’ve contested all three finals and won one and lost the other two by a kick of the ball so it’s just unfortunately that on both occasions we’ve fallen on the wrong side of the kick.” 

His did have chances to force extra-time but Kildare admirably held firm to secure only their second TG4 All-Ireland intermediate crown. 

Scorers – Kildare: R Byrne 0-7 (5f), E Dowling 1-1, T Duggan 1-0, N Dooley 0-2, L Gilbert 0-1. 

Clare:  F Marrinan 1-5 (5f), C Moloney 1-3 (3f), C Blake 0-2. 

KILDARE: M Hulgraine; L Burke, L Lenehan, A Clifford; L Murtagh, R Sargent, L Gilbert; G Clifford, A Rattigan; C Sullivan, E Dowling, T Duggan; N Dooley, R Byrne, L Curran. Subs: G Kenneally for Duggan (41), M Doherty for Rattigan (46), F Troute for Burke (46, inj), O Sullivan for Curran (51) 

CLARE: A Lenihan; G Harvey, S Ní Chonaill, A Keane; L Griffin, C Harvey, O Devitt; A Reidy, C Blake; L Ryan, F Marrinan, C Cahill; A Sexton, C Moloney, L Griffey. Subs: M Downes for Griffin (12), C McCarthy for Griffey (39), R Looney for Griffey (44), S Considine for Sexton (48), J Doohan for Devitt (57) 


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