NEWMARKET ON FERGUS…………0-21 CRUSHEEN……………0-13
By Michael O Connor.
Both sides with an eye of serious championship far come autumn time tested each other in ideal conditions in Father Murphy memorial park on Monday afternoon. In what was a freetaking exhibition of excellence by Liam Clancy the home side held too much in defence for Crusheen and ultimately with Crusheen unable to test Ian Mulcahy’s goal there was ever only going to be one winner. Notable from a Clare perspective was the presence of Clare senior star Cian Dillon who given dispensation from the training camp turned in a solid impressive hour at centre back which will be welcome news for all Clare hurling supporters.
Both sides were missing key stakeholders in their respective sides and it was a chance for the supporting casts to lay down claims for action later in the year. Players missing from both sides would include Darren Duggan, Colin Ryan, Enda Barrett, James McInerney, Mike McInerney and the two Shane O Briens whilst Crusheen missed the services of Donal Touhy, Cronan Dillon, Pat Vaughan, Fergus Kennedy and Conor O Loughlin.
Darragh O Doherty and Liam Clancy opened the scoring for their sides after only two minutes before Shane Liddy who was busy at corner forward hit the first of four points from play. With the left flank of the Crusheen defence in difficulty Newmarket exerted pressure on the flank. Clancy his his second free before Ian Mulcahy had to be alert to deny Gerry O Grady a clear goal chance. Clancy, David Barrett, Shane Liddy and Darragh O Doherty with Crusheen’s second score left the county champions comfortable (0-6) to (0-2) ahead after 12 minutes. Newmarket led Crusheen off the hook with six wides in the first 20 minutes before Crusheen steadied the rot in the rearguard and midfield to match Newmarket point for point to leave Newmarket (0-10) to (0-6) clear at the break with a slight breeze favouring the visitors in the second period.
Crusheen wielded the axe at the break bringing on replacements but it a brace of Liam Clancy scores straight after the break that set Crusheen thinking about scoring goals even with the second half in its infancy. Crusheen rallied with a hat trick of points from Briain Dillon and Jamie Fitzgibbon to narrow the deficit to four points ten minutes into the second half. The following four scores saw three be attributed to Newmarket with Shane Liddy (2) and Clancy on target with a sole response from Fitzgibbon and this resulted in Newmarket holding solid a five point lead as Crusheen now began looking for goals.
This initiative failed dismally as they never once threatened Newmarket’s goal and with Cathal Dillon imperious at full back for Crusheen the chance of a goal for the home side looked a non event as well. The game was ended effectively as contest when Liam Clancy hit three frees in as many minutes to stretch the home sides lead to seven and in the remaining minutes Conor O Donnell, David Barrett, Liam Clancy (2) and Jamie Fitzgibbon rounded off the scoring as Newmarket secured their fourth Clare cup win and in effect ended Crusheen’s interest in this year’s cup barring a 100% record in the last series of games and results moving in their favour.
The winners were served well by now what appears to be the best set of backs in the county even without the services of key starters. Shane O Connor, Eoin O Brien Alan Barrett and Niall O Connor were to the fore with Eoin Hayes busy at midfield as David Barrett, Liam Clancy and Shane Liddy shared the 21 Newmarket scores with relative ease.
Crusheen’s missing players are worth much more than one can quantify and with them the 2010 and 2011 champions are a real championship animal. Their best performers included Cathal Dillon, John Brigdale, CIan Dillon, Jamie Fitzgibbon, Gerry O Grady and Conor O Donnell in patches.
NEWMARKET ON FERGUS: Ian Mulcahy, Shane Kelleher, Shane O Connor, Padraig Gilmartin, Eoin O Brien, Niall O Connor, Alan Barrett, Eoin Hayes, Frank Melody, David Barrett (0-4), Niall Enright, Liam Clancy (0-13), Shane Liddy (0-4), Ronan Goode, James Liddy.
CRUSHEEN: David McMahon, John Brigdale, Cathal Dillon, Juan Horner, Ciaran O Doherty, Cian Dillon, Briain Dillon (0-1), Alan Touhy, Alan Brigdale (0-1), Gearoid O Donnell, Jamie Fitzgibbon (0-4), Joe Meaney, Conor O Donnell (0-2), Gerry O Grady, Darragh O Doherty (0-5). Subs: Shaun Dillon for Horner, John Weir for G O Donnell
Referee: Ger Hoey (Killanena)