By DAIRE WALSH
Roisin Byrne grabbed a majestic haul of 0-10 at Parnell Park as Kildare claimed the Lidl NFL Division 3 crown - and a spot in next year’s Division 2 - with a thrilling extra-time win over Clare.
Despite temporarily losing Grainne Kenneally to a yellow card with less than two minutes gone, the Lilywhites enjoyed a whirlwind start. The in-form Roisin Byrne kicked a brace of points from play, before Neasa Dooley brilliantly converted a 10th minute penalty after Trina Duggan had been fouled inside the square.
Unanswered scores from Fidelma Marrinan (two) and midfielder Aisling Reidy helped Clare to settle into the action, but Kildare ultimately led 1-2 to 0-3 at the end of a low-scoring opening half.
Chloe Moloney and Byrne traded pointed frees at either end when the play resumed, before Sarsfields ace Byrne registered two more points in response to Reidy’s second of the game. While Clare breathed a sigh of relief when an Ellen Dowling goal was ruled for over carrying, Kildare eventually scored another goal when captain Grace Clifford palmed home in the 43rd minute.
This left the Lilywhites with a commanding six-point buffer, 2-5 to 0-5, entering the final-quarter, but a brace of Marrinan frees did keep the Clare challenge alive. Although Kildare remained on course for victory, an instinctive three-point finish from Clare substitute Laura Griffey on 56 minutes brought the gap back down to the bare minimum.
A nerveless Marrinan free then restored parity at 1-10 to 2-7 moments later to make sure an additional 20 minutes was needed to produce a winner from this tie.
Roisin Byrne’s seventh point of the day edged Kildare back in the ascendancy, but Clare were two points to the good, 2-10 to 2-8, at the midway stage in extra-time as a result of Marrinan’s goal from a tight left-hand angle.
The sin-binning of Dooley on 68 minutes also presented them with a numerical advantage, but their Leinster rivals once again dug deep with 14 players as the exceptional Byrne kicked three points without reply to sensationally move Kildare back in front.
Even though Kildare were to finish the game with 13 after Roisin Forde and Lara Gilbert received later yellow cards, Diane O’Hora’s charges held out in a tense finale.
Scorers - Kildare: R Byrne 0-10 (5f), N Dooley (pen), G Clifford 1-0 each, E Dowling 0-1.
Clare: F Marrinan 1-6 (0-5f), L Griffey 1-0, A Reidy 0-2, C Moloney (f), C Blake 0-1 each.
KILDARE: M Hulgraine; L Burke, L Lenehan, G Kenneally; L Gilbert, R Sargent, S Munnelly; G Clifford, A Rattigan; C Sullivan, R Byrne, T Duggan; E Dowling, N Dooley, L Curran. Subs: M Doherty for Duggan (37), C Price for Curran (45), A Clifford for Sullivan (49), R Forde for Kenneally (65), O Sullivan for Price (72), C Sullivan for Sargent (74), L Curran for Burke (79).
CLARE: A Lenihan; O Devitt, S Ní Chonaill, G Harvey; L Griffin, C Harvey, Á Keane; A Reidy, C Moloney; E Keane, F Marrinan, A Sexton; L Roche, C Blake, C McCarthy. Subs: S Considine for McCarthy (37), M Downes for Keane (40), C McCormack for Griffin (45), L Griffey for Harvey, J Doohan for Roche (both 52), L Roche for Blake (61), C Blake for Sexton (71),
Ref: Siobhan Coyle (Donegal).Tweet