Newmarket 2-16 Crusheen 3-10
Newmarket will play Kilmaley in the semi-final of The Clare Champion Cup (senior hurling league) after they secured top spot by beating Crusheen in this play-off at Clarecastle on Sunday evening.
Crusheen are still in the title race and they have another chance to get to the semi-final when they play Inagh-Kilnamona this Sunday, with the winners qualifying as runners-up in Division 1.
Both sides were short some regulars for Sunday’s clash, which aroused a lot of interest given that they are due to meet in the next round of the championship in a few week’s time.
Crusheen appeared to have been hardest hit in terms of absentees, with a number of first-choice players unavailable due to inter-county commitments and injuries.
A blistering start to the second half-which saw Newmarket extend their half time lead of eight points to 13 proved decisive in this tie. Helped by a goal from full-forward Anthony Kilmartin, the winners were 1-10 to 0-5 in front at half-time and when play resumed they piled on the pressure and added 1-3 while conceding just a point. This left Crusheen with a mountain to climb and while they succeeded in reducing the deficit to three points, the gap was too great.
Midway through the second half, Crusheen struck for 2-2 in the space of a few minutes, with the goals coming from Jamie Fitzgibbon and Gerry O’Grady. Their third goal came from goalkeeper Donal Tuohy, who converted a free.
Colin Ryan again emerged as Newmarket’s top scorer with 0-8 to his credit.
Newmarket: Kieran Devitt; Shane O’Brien Jr, Stephen Kelly, Pádraig Kilmartin; Alan Barrett, James McInerney, Enda Barrett; Eoin O’Brien, Paudie Collins (0-1); Colin Ryan (0-8), David Barrett (1-2), Enda Kelly; Darren Duggan, Anthony Kilmartin (1-1), James Liddy (0-2).
Subs: Tommy Griffin for Duggan; Jim McInerney (0-1) for A Kilmartin.
Crusheen: Donal Tuohy (1-0); John Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, Conor O’Loughlin; Jason Greene, Ciaran O’Doherty (0-2), Shaun Dillon; Tony Meaney, Gerry O’Grady (1-3); Niall Fitzgibbon, Jamie Fitzgibbon, (1-2) David Forde (0-3); Paddy Meaney, Patrick O’Grady, Dara O’Doherty.
Subs: Alan Tuohy for N Fitzgibbon; Padraic O’Malley for D O’Doherty; Cathal Dillon for Cronan Dillon (inj).