The Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Finalists are now known after Cratloe, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Crusheen and Kilmaley came through the backdoor to join Sixmilebridge, Clonlara, Clooney-Quin and Ballyea in the last eight in a fortnight’s time.
Defending champions Cratloe had to endure a nervy finish against O’Callaghan’s Mills before finally returning to the business end of the championship by 3-19 to 3-14 on Sunday evening. 15 points clear with nine minutes remaining, the holders took their foot off the gas and it allowed Adrian Donovan to raid for three late goals and cut the margin to just four.
Prior to that, Cratloe had dominated proceedings, with Conor McGrath’s two first half goals giving them a 2-11 to 0-10 half-time cushion.
Any hopes of an O’Callaghan’s Mills resurgence was soon quelled from the throw-in however as David O’Brien grabbed a third goal. And it allowed Cratloe to ease clear as McGrath, Sean Collins and Shane Gleeson piled on the points to allow them withstand that late lapse.
2012 winners Newmarket-on-Fergus came out on top in a heated contest against Tulla by 1-17 to 0-13. Tulla started well but were pegged back by a Ronan Good goal midway through the opening half as the sides went in level at the break at 0-8 to 1-5.
The teams continued to trade scores until a 29 man brawl saw both sides reduced to 14 in the 50th minute. And while Colin Corbett equalised for Tulla, it was Newmarket, and more pointedly Colin Ryan, who finished strongly as the county senior hit eight of the last nine points to ease up to victory.
Last year’s finalists Crusheen produced a strong second half display to finally overcome Éire Óg by 1-17 to 0-16 in the first of three Round 3 clashes in Clare headquarters on Sunday.
Crusheen are looking to improve on last season's county final appearance. Source: James Crombie/INPHO
The Ennis side, backed by the conditions, were clearly on top in the opening half propelled by in-form Danny Russell to open up a 0-8 to 0-3 advantage.
However, a penalty from Clare goalkeeper Donal Tuohy proved a crucial turning point for Crusheen who pegged back the deficit to just three at the break at 0-12 to 1-06.
It didn’t seem enough of an advantage for Éire Óg and so it proved as wind-assisted Crusheen outscored their opponents by 0-11 to 0-04 in the latter half including a brace of points from substitute and former Clare captain Paddy Vaughan who made a welcome return from injury.
Under 21A Champions Kilmaley were first into the hat for the quarter-finals from Round 3 on Saturday evening as they eventually held off neighbours Inagh-Kilnamona by 1-20 to 1-14 in a patched up Cusack Park.In a typical derby affair, Inagh-Kilnamona kept pace with their opponents until the final quarter when a Mikey O’Neill goal finally put some daylight between the sides.
Kilmaley also held the whip hand in the opening half as Cian Moloney’s frees kept their noses in front despite conceding a penalty that saw Kilmaley goalkeeper Bryan O’Loughlin keep out his counterpart Patrick Kelly midway through the half.
Inagh-Kilnamona did finally pull level before the break as Gerry Coote pounced for a goal but a strong finish to the half ensured that Kilmaley held a slender 0-13 to 1-08 interval advantage.
And despite losing Clare Under 21 Conor Cleary to injury and seeing a stubborn Patrick Kelly keep out several goal attempts, Kilmaley finally pulled clear with O’Neill’s goal, a lead that they would not relinquish for the remainder of the contest.
The Clare Senior Hurling Championship Quarter-Final draw will take place tomorrow (Monday) in Clareabbey at 6.30pm.
Finally, Clarecastle and Tubber will contest the Senior Relegation showdown in a fortnight’s time, with the loser destined for Intermediate in 2016.