By Michael O Connor.
The beauty of small clubs going for glory. None of the glamour of A or even B grade finals. Small crowds, small panels, no major pre match debate county wide and even the weather can be often inclement. Yet, for all that these finals have their special place in our hearts and often big displays can be witnessed by club stars and lads who might never play past junior level.
A small attendance was welcomed to Cusack park on Thursday evening by an artic breeze and it was blowing straight into the seated stand. The concession of soft goals by Tubber decided this contest as Feakle/Killanena allowed the vanquished to be far the better side for over 25 minutes and were very fortunate that Tubber continued their record of not scoring a goal from play in the championship. The first half could be described as a disaster from a Tubber perspective for the first 18 minutes and likewise for Feakle/Killanena from then to the end of the opening half. After ten minutes of the second half there was no more doubt as to who would win.
Feakle/Killanena centre back Gary Guilfoyle from the famed Feakle dynasty pointed a free for the games first score after two minutes. Goal number 1 came after seven minutes when Tubber's goalkeeper Dylan Molloy failed to deal with a crossfield ball and the inrushing Shane McGrath first timed to the net. Guilfoyle added a free after 11 minutes before 17 year old Lorcan O Grady who has done well for the Tubber men from frees all season opened his sides account as Pat O Connor was somewhat playing within himself. Goal number 2 came from a high ball sent in that was firstly caught by a Tubber defender but then fell into the hands of Killian Bane who blasted to the Tubber net. Another free by Guilfoyle left the East Clare side (2-3) to (0-1) clear after 17 minutes. Goal number 3 was created a minute later when Cillian Bane raced down the wing, cut inside and his lobbing ball into the square was batted to the net by Oisin Donnellan as Feakle/Killanena raced 11 clear. From their lowest point came the Tubber fightback as to the credit they swamped Feakle/Killanena dominating their own half back and midfield sectors with Evan O Donoghue fighting hard. Ronan Taaffe with two scores from play and a goal from a 21 yard free as Paddy O Connor was fouled and allied to two Lorcan O Grady frees cut the Feakle/Killanena advantage in half in the space of five minutes. Feakle/Killanena thanked the gods for John Dolans barely audible whistle at the break as they retired (3-3) to (1-5) in front.
Lorcan O Grady who played at midfield was quick off the mark with a well taken free a minute into the second half before a huge cheer from the Tubber support welcomed an interception score from county senior Pat O Connor who was now at midfield with Francis McCormack at centre back having switched midway in the opening half. Feakle/Killanena for the first time in twenty minutes added to their tally when Eoin Touhy added a brace of points in the 37th and 39th minute to allay fears. Pat O Connor entered the referee's notebook soon after with Shane McGrath sending the resulting free wide. With the setting sun brought visibility problems for the Tubber rearguard and Feakle/Killanena forwards. Tubber managed one more score for the final twenty minutes which was probably scant rewards for their efforts but from Feakle/Killanena's point of view they were the stronger side and took advantage of Tubber's malaise up front. The coup de grace was delivered by Killian Bane with a long range effort that was deflected into the Tubber net by Molloy but it was merely another goal on the scoreboard as the result was long since decided.
Feakle added another bevy of scores in the final seven minutes of a bitterly cold Cusack park as Guilfoyle (2) Shane McGrath, Enda Touhy and Henry Purcell who had just been introduced hit late points. The final whistle was welcomed by all present as Feakle/Killanena celebrated their first ever adult trophy as a team. Ironically Killanena were the first winners of this title in 1984 whilst the amalgamation were defeated finalists in 2011.
The winners had solid displays from Padraig Brady, Eoin Touhy, Shane McGrath, Killian Bane, Gary Guilfoyle, Eoin McMahon, Oisin Donnellan and Colin McNamara. Tubber tried hard but could not score goals and this ruined all their work despite the best efforts of Paul Fogarty, Shaun Naughton, Evan O Donoghue, Francis McCormack, Paddy O Connor, Lorcan O Grady and Pat O Connor.
FEAKLE/KILLANENA: Eibhear Quilligan, Eoin McMahon, Padraig Brady, Michael Noonan, Gary Guilfoyle (0-5), James Noonan, Eoin Touhy (0-3), Martin Glynn, Colin McNamara, Todd Kelsey, Shane McGrath (1-2), Killian Bane (2-0), Oisin Donnellan (1-1). Subs: Eoin McGuinness for Glynn, Evan McNamara for Colin McNamara Paul McArthur for McGuinness, Henry Purcell (0-1) for Donnellan, Donnellan for Bane.
TUBBER: Dylan Molloy, Paul Fogarty, Barry Monahan, Shaun Naughton, Pat O Connor (0-1), Adrian Nilan, Lorcan O Grady (0-5), Francis McCormack, Evan O Donoghue, Ronan Taaffe (1-2), Aidan Forde, Kevin Fawl, Paddy O Connor. Subs: Neil O Loughlin for Forde, Shane Monahan, Ruairi Forde.
Referee: John Dolan (Clarecastle).