CLOONEY/QUIN……2-12 ST JOSEPHS DOORA/BAREFIELD….1-14
By Michael O Connor.
Drama, tension, replays and last minute goals are the trend this current season in the various under 21 title races. Sixmilebridge suffered against Kilmaley and St Josephs did likewise against a Clooney/Quin driven on by the desire to become the first side from Spancilhill, Maghera, Dangan, Clooney and Quin to bring home a title at this age level.
At the final whistle the sheer emotion that was displayed by Clooney/Quin who at the start of the year were considered also rans was visible for all to see and experience. A number of players were unavailable and a hard working management set out wondering if a team of any substance would emerge. Not alone did they appear they can now call themselves champions. For their part St Josephs were competitive and up for the task but lacked a skilled forward to help Shane O Connor as they also suffered at midfield moving Jarlath Colleran to man mark Duggan in the second half allowing Ryan Taylor to truly shine for most of the game.
This eagerly awaited neighbourly encounter saw St Josephs short odds 1/3 on with Clooney/Quin at 13/8 against. In county finals the unusual happens and stories of displays that were not considered beforehand. One such example is the story of Joe Clune who gathered the ball about five times over the game and in earlier rounds had little scoring record yet finished top scorer from play in the final with (1-3)
Clooney were first to strike as full forward Joe Clune made no mistake with less than three minutes action as the Barefield men were playing with the aid of a very stiff breeze. Niall DeLoughrey responded also from play for his colleagues two minutes later. Talismanic Clooney/Quin forward Peter Duggan was being shadowed by equally impressive St Josephs centre back Alan O Neill as these two giants of under 21 club hurling who were expected to be match winners for their respective sides. It was another Duggan, namely Cathal for St Josephs who scored next before Seamus Conroy was upended for a 21 yard free. Up stepped Peter Duggan and his powerful effort left spectators silent for a second such was the speed of the delivery leaving Mickey Rosengrave and his defenders helpless. In the first half with the wind St Josephs hit ten wides as opposed to two for the eventual winners with the second half aided by the elements Clooney/Quin were less wasteful with five wides and two for the Barefield men. Both sides were when tempted attempting short pucks out yet with little success on these occasions. Freetakers Duggan (1) and Shane O Connor (2) were on target by the 19th minute and a minute later Cathal Duggan levelled matters, (1-2) to (0-5) from play. The duel between Duggan and O Neill took a new twist with the duo scoring the following five points with both sharing four long range frees and Duggan adding another from play to leave Clooney/Quin ahead by the minimum after 26 minutes. Drama visited Cusack Park moments later when a 21 yard free hit by St Josephs goalkeeper Mikey Rosengrave and a minute later a converted free from O Connor, his third in all left Josephs (1-8) to (1-5) ahead at the break.
The stiffening breeze and the threat of Duggan suggested to many that this might not be enough of an advantage for Josephs yet as it transpired it was St Josephs own malaise in front of goal that cost them not the Clooney/Quin scoring potential. Duggan and O Neill swopped scores in the 32nd and 33rd minutes respectively as Duggan was now roaming around the Barefield half of the field enjoying the undiluted attention of Jarlath Colleran. A brilliant long delivery by O Neill who was released from patrolling Duggan found Shane O Connor was finished a great point well. Gary Hogan replaced Shane Duggan on the Clooney/Quin side at this interval. After 43 minutes both sides had added two points apiece with O Connor, Duggan and Clune on the mark to leave Barefield looking comfortable four point leaders without playing well as Duggan could not manage to win aerial possession as he had all season. Clooney/Quin finally thundered into the game with three scores from Duggan (2) and Clune in a four minutes spell to leave St Josephs a point ahead, (1-12) to (1-11) entering the final ten minutes of hard fast moving fare.
David Conroy who is likely to feature on the Clare minor hurling first twenty hit two points in the last ten minutes as Duggan responded from a free to leave St Josephs holding out and attacking well on a (1-14) to (1-12) scoreline. Clooney/Quin were living off scraps with as it was now Taylor who was for me the unspoken man of the match, Richie Hennessy, Ruairi McNamara, Clune and Corry who were keeping their club in the game. One final act was yet to unfold with conclusive results for the destination of the cup. Duggan fights for the ball out near the corner. It spins across the field into Gary Hogan’ s hand. He releases a missile. It cannons off the crossbar and spins out to the corner only to be returned into the Josephs goalmouth by Corry. The ball falls to Joe Clune and the farmers son unleashed a goal that he can talk of for years to come as St Josephs fell to the ground collectively. Nearly two more minutes was played before the long whistle went and cue invasion of headquarters.
Best for the winners were Keith Hogan, Brian McInerney, Richie Hennessy, Ruairi McNamara, Ryan Taylor, John Reynolds, Peter Duggan, Joe Clune and Jimmy Conroy. St Josephs had chances but allowed Clooney/Quin to stay kicking and it told. Their best included Alan O Neill, Shane O Connor, Cathal Duggan early on, Jarlath Colleran, Mikey Rosengrave and Eamonn Clohessy.
CLOONEY: Keith Hogan, John Hennessy, Brian McInerney, Liam Henchy, Richie Hennessy, Ruairi McNamara, Daniel Reddan, Ryan Taylor, John Reynolds, Luke Harrison, Peter Duggan (1-9), Shane Duggan, Jimmy Corry, Joe Clune (1-3), Seamus Conroy. Subs: Barry Ryan for John Hennessy, Conor Clune for Harrison,
ST JOSEPHS: Mickey Rosengrave (1-0), Fionn Carroll, Brian Clancy, Darragh Murphy, Conor Lyons, Alan O Neill (0-3), Eamonn Clohessy, Jarlath Colleran, David Conroy (0-2), Leo Duggan, Niall Deloughrey (0-1), Ian Lyons, Shane O Connor (0-6), Aaron Landy, Cathal Duggan (0-2). Subs: Donal O Halloran for Landy
REFEREE: Ger Lyons (Ruan).
Following the game County treasurer Bernard Keane and county bord na Nog secretary Sandra Reynolds, a former Clooney/Quin secretary presented the under 21B cup to Clooney/Quin captain Seamus Conroy.