By Michael O Connor.
Two of the heavyweights of Clare hurling met with a number of issues at stake namely two points in the Clare cup and for the winner a big step to the knockout stages. More importantly for both, however was the chance to test each other out against a team that could be an obstacle later in the season. Crusheen housed this hard hitting game with the strong wind the key element in the fixture. Clonlara without the services of the O Donovan twins took Darach Honan and Colm Galvin from the pitch at half time.
County training on the morning of the round 3 Clare cup games irked the clubs of the county who are depending on their county players in some cases simply to field teams, not necessarily their best teams due to exams at third level and players working Saturday afternoons. Those who suffered most included Cratloe who had to play Newmarket on Fergus at midday just two hours after their entire county contingent had trained in UL. Crusheen were without the abilities of Cian Dillon and Patrick Vaughan with David Forde having retired from playing after three seasons and two senior championships and junior A medals to adorn his sideboard.
The visitors to Crusheen played with the wind at their backs for the first half and would have expected with good fortune aiding them to be at least eight points in front at the break. Yet, coming up against one of the most determined defences in club hurling and tagging on a big score is easier said than accomplished.
The scoring trends of the game centred around three players namely Conor O Donnell, Jamie Fitzgibbon and John Conlon who scored 23 of the 30 points on offer over the hour. O Donnell started the scoring in the first minte with Cathal Tots O Connell responding before Jamie Fitzgibbon hit the first of his eight scores. In a six minute spell John Conlon hit four points as opposed to a sole response from Fitzgibbon to send Clonlara (0-5) to (0-3) ahead.
A crucial score for Crusheen playing against the wind materialised when Jamie Fitzgibbon set up Fergus Kennedy who finished with determination past Ger O Connell. Clonlara struck back with five in a row from John Conlon (4) and Cathal O Connell as Clonlara raced (0-10) to (1-3) clear with five minutes left in the opening half. Crusheen were undeterred and through Jamie Fitzgibbon who struck a hat trick of frees before the final score of the half was left fittingly to Conlon who sent over a 65 to leave Clonlara shaky (0-11) to (1-6) clear at the interval after Donal Touhy had saved smartly from O Loughlin. Had they left their two county players on the field they probably would have won the tie but surprisingly without explanation removed Honan and Galvin from the fray.
The second half saw both sides exchange scores as Crusheen drew level after 44 minutes. Thomas Begley, Conor O Donnell who hit a hat trick from play in the second half and a brace from Jamie Fitzgibbon sent the home side a point clear in the 48th minute only for Conlon with his last score in the 50th minte to draw the sides together once more. Admirably Clonlara defended well against the wind as Crusheen could not hit the net to seal the win. The final ten minutes resulted in just two scores as Clonlara were held scoreless and Jame Fitzgibbon and Alan Brigdale in the 54th and 55th minutes gave Crusheen their third win in a row and safety from relegation as they now set their sights on a busy summer and perhaps autumn. Exactly what Clonlara are thinking of as well.
Best for Crusheen were Cronan Dillon, Ciaran O Doherty, Cathal Dillon, Alan Brigdale, Jamie Fitzgibbon, Conor O Donnell and John Brigdale. Clonlara will not be unduly worried over this loss and will point to a weakened side at the start and then deliberate reduction as the game went on. Their best included Shane O Brien, Nicky O Connell, John Conlon who was the sole Clonlara scoring threat
CRUSHEEN: Donal Touhy, John Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, Conor O Loughlin, Ciaran O Doherty, Cathal Dillon, Briain Dillon, Alan Brigdale (0-1), Alan Touhy, Gearoid O Donnell, Jamie Fitzgibbon (0-8), Gerry O Grady, Joe Meaney, Fergus Kennedy (1-0), Conor O Donnell (0-4). Subs: Sean Weir for Kennedy (inj), Padraig O Grady for G O Grady (inj)
CLONLARA: Gearoid O Connell, Pat O Hare, Oisin O Brien, Shane O Brien, Eoin Meehan, Nicky O Connell, Ger Powell, Colm Galvin, William Slattery, Darach Honan, John Conlon (0-11), Cathal O Connell (0-2), Michael O Loughlin, Jason Murphy, Ciaran Downey. Subs: Ronan Carey for Slattery, James Hastings for Galvn, Thomas Begley (0-1) for Honan, Patrick Conlon for O Hare, Patrick Moloney for Downey.
Referee: Ambrose Heagney (Corofin).
TUBBER………….. 2-14 WOLFE TONES………….. 1-09
By Michael O Connor.
The scenic beauty of the Burren welcomed the hurlers of Wolfe Tones to the border club Tubber recently for this round 3 Clare cup game. Wolfe Tones who had a win and a loss in their accounts were taking on the home side that had a successful 2012 with Senior B and Junior B honours resting on the sideboard
With the beauty of the locality aside Tubber maintained their unbeaten start to the current season with a spirited hard earned victory over Wolfe Tones who certainly had chances to sneak success. It was a final margin that certainly didn't seem likely at half-time as wind-assisted Tubber seemed to be cruising until a late Gary Leahy flicked goal cut the deficit to only six points at the break. The game started 30 minutes late due the late arrival of referee Flan O Reilly who had previous official duties. Wolfe Tones were also first on the score board with John Guilfoyle converting a free after only two minutes and held Tubber well in the opening exchanges. The home side were slow to use the breeze to their advantage, once they did go direct, particularly from goalkeeper Ronan Taaffe's puck-outs, Tubber soon reaped their rewards with a 20th minute effort landing around the square to break off Eamon Taaffe and into the welcome hand of Clive Early who made no mistake.
Wing forward David O'Donoghue was also causing the Shannon side problems throughout the half as Tubber pushed eight points clear with Blaine Earley holding his own from frees but that Leahy goal along with points from Brendan Hughes and Bobby McPhillips gave a battling Wolfe Tones much hope for the second period. The half time interval saw Wolfe Tones chase a (1-9) to (1-3) deficit. Once the target was under 10 points and a strong wind backing them, hope existed if backed by a competent forward display that maybe the visitors might gain a result away from home. There was a sting in the tail however as Wolfe Tones were on tour without as many as nine of the panel. This reality curbed their efforts with the fightback never coming to pass however as despite the aid of the breeze, failed to chew into Tubber's advantage. Tubber had enough of personnel littered around the park to tag on a point or two and this eased their task against the breeze. Inter county star Pat O Connor, Justin McMahon, Ronan Taaffe with a huge long range free, veteran Eamonn Taaffe and Shane O Connor all chipped in with vital scores. Kevin McCafferty, Daithi O Connell, Gary Leahy and Brendan Hughes kept Wolfe Tones in touch but were eventually killed off when Blaine Earley struck for Tubber's second goal in the 46th minute to maintain their push for promotion. For Wolfe Tones the options for promotion missing so many of the panel for key outings look slim having lost to Tubber and Whitegate who would have eyes on the elevator out of the division. Another loss for Wolfe Tones could see them eyeing the trapdoor with nervousness.
Best for Tubber who possess one of the smallest playing populations in the county but also some of the most committed players to boot were Ronan Taaffe, Mark Earley, Conor Earley, Patrick O Connor, David O Donoghue, Blaine Earley and Clive Earley. Wolfe Tones did their best hurling against the elements and would have hoped for a greater return with the elements but lacked the manpower for 60 minutes despite the best efforts of John Guilfoyle, Gary Leahy, Bobby McPhillips, Jamie Roughan, Trevor O Donnell, Kevin McCafferty, Barry Loughnane, Brian O Connell and Daithi O Connell.
TUBBER: Ronan Taaffe (0-1); Paul Fogarty, Gerard Brohan, Fergal O'Grady; Mark Earley, Conor Earley, Francis McCormack; Patrick O'Connor (0-1), Darragh O'Connor; David O'Donoghue (0-3), Eamon Taaffe (0-1), Justin McMahon (0-1); Clive Earley (1-0), Shane O'Connor (0-1), Blaine Earley (1-5). Sub: Lorcan O Grady for Taaffe.
WOLFE TONES: Trevor O'Donnell; Sean O'Toole, Jamie Roughan, Sean Reidy; Brian O'Connell, Bobby McPhillips (0-1f), Barry Loughnane; Daithi O'Connell (0-2), Kevin McCafferty (0-1f); David Dunne, Brendan Hughes (0-1), John Guilfoyle (0-2f); Andrew Shanagher, Johnny Bridges, Gary Leahy (1-2 2f)
Subs Ciaran Argue for Bridges, Stephen Tuohy for Reidy, Martin O'Connell for Shanagher
Referee Flann O'Reilly (Cratloe)