CRUSHEEN............0-13 NEWMARKET ON FERGUS............1-9
By Michael O Connor.
In one of the most entertaining finals played this year at club level Crusheen edged past Newmarket on Fergus by the minimum and in the process became the third Clare club on records available to achieve the Senior/Junior double. Eire-og in 1990 and Newmarket in 1972 were others to take this Parteen were fancied by many to win this title even though Crusheen had accounted for them by 7 points in the league section. Crusheen had accounted for St Josephs with some ease in the semi final whilst Inagh/Kilnamona forced Newmarket to a replay before giving way.
Over the hour Crusheen were just the better side having faced down the barrel of defeat before rallying on two occasions before scoring a glorious 59th minute winner. Whilst the first half was entertaining fare the second half was tremendous as the two sides were like two prizefighters who went toe to toe for 30 minutes with both shattered at the final whistle.
Anthony Kilmartin opened the scoring for the Blues after two minutes and he was the target man for Newmarket. Trevor Corbett who was to play an important cameo twice in the second half got Crusheen off the mark after four minutes before Gearoid O Doherty and Neil Ryan (free) exchanged scores in the 7th and 11th minutes respectively as conditions in Clarecastle were magnificent. Niall McMahon, Neil Ryan (2) and Jamie Fitzgibbon were on target by the 20th minute to leave the sides on level terms for the fourth time suggesting that a goal for either side might be the title clincher. Crusheen had missed two clear goal chances early in the game but from the 20th to 25th minute Newmarket had two chances with Martin Frawley blasting past the injured David McMahon. Instead of pressing home the three point lead Newmarket retreated as Crusheen stunned by this goal hit back fast with a brace of Niall McMahon frees to retire at the minimum (1-4) to (0-6). Crusheen had played poorly in the second quarter and still were only behind by one score as Newmarket were not as strong as Crusheen midfield pair of Shaun Dillon and Thomas Vaughan and this told as the game went on.
Ger Hannon pounced for a well taken opening second half score before some of the better scores of Crusheen's season were created and executed. Niall Fitzgibbon who was playing with a badly injured knee along with corner back Donal Dillon who had twisted his ankle earlier in the week kicked off the Crusheen fightback. Trevor Corbett, Jamie Fitzgibbon when moved to full forward (3) and Niall McMahon with a single response from a Neil Ryan free left the eventual champions (0-12) to (1-6) clear after 46 minutes. Newmarket having played poorly for 15 minutes still found themselves only three points behind and would thought themselves to be unlucky not to score a goal from Ger Hannon in the final ten minutes action. They rallied brilliantly with scores from Niall O Connor and Shane O Leary as they sides were level once more, (0-12) to (1-9) after 56 minutes. The tension was unbearable for players and supporters with every mistake and clearance greeted with a huge cheer from the large attendance that was indeed one of the biggest of the year at a game outside of senior.
10 years ago as a 20 year old Trevor Corbett scored four points from play as Crusheen won the 2000 intermediate hurling championship. Now as a 30 year veteran he had one last act to play. The ball was sent out wide and he took possession and from the tightest of angles popped the ball over the bar. Four more minutes of close shaves for both sides had to be endured before the long whistle as Crusheen celebrated once more with their third piece of silverware.
Best for the winners were Diarmuid O Doherty, Donal Dillon, Donal Wylde, COnor O Loughlin, the powerful Shaun Dillon, Thomas Vaughan, Trevor Corbett, Jamie Fitzgibbon and Briain Dillon. Newmarket had solid displays from Darren Cullinan, Niall O Connor, Anthony Kilmartin in patches, Brian "Beano" McMahon who Crusheen struggled to contain in his sweeper role showing he has lost little of the class that made him one of the best stickmen of a generation. Darren O Connor, Paul McInerney and Noel Frawley also had their moments.
CRUSHEEN: David McMahon, Donal Dillon, Diarmuid O Doherty, Tony McMahon, Donal Wylde, Conor O Loughlin, Conor Hayes, Thomas Vaughan, Shaun Dillon, Briain Dillon, Niall McMahon (0-4), Jamie Fitzgibbon (0-4), Gearoid O Doherty (0-1), Niall Fitzgibbon (0-1), Trevor Corbett (0-3).
NEWMARKET: Ronan McCormack, Jimmy Clancy, Seamus Meehan, Eanna McInerney, Noel Frawley, Darren O Connor, Darren Cullinan, Brian McMahon, Paul McInerney, Martin Frawley (1-0), Liam Clancy, Niall Ryan (0-4), Niall Enright, Anthony Kilmartin (0-1), Ger Hannon (0-1). Subs: Niall O Connor (0-2) for Clancy, Shane O Leary (0-1) for Frawley.
REFEREE: Johnny Healy (Smith O Briens).
After the game Chairman of the county board Michael O Neill presented the Junior A cup to Brendan McMahon and his brother Tony McMahon who deputised for the injured captain as once more the bonfires were rekindled in Crusheen.
Michael O Connor