By Michael O Connor.
It was a case of the brothers Arthur for Inagh/Kilnamona but brothers Grimm from a Cratloe perspective as Gerry and Niall Arthur returned a 15 point haul to overwhelm a Cratloe side that underperformed for most of this game in Cusack Park. At the third time of asking Cratloe were beaten by Inagh/Kilnamona who were gaining a measure of revenge for a misfiring display in the 2012 semi final defeat at the hands of the 2009 champions.
A number of the high profile Cratloe players who have busy schedules looked shadows of former performances on the field that had first brought the club to prominence at the end of the last decade. Inagh/Kilnamona have been quietly building up a solid run in championship fare in recent years but without really threatening the establishment. It must be noted that Inagh/Kilnamona were without the services for various reasons of Brian Glynn, Jamie Davin and Ronan O Looney so youth was getting its fling with Gerry Coote and Kevin Hehir taking their bow in senior fare.
The Arthur brothers shared the opening four scores for Inagh/Kilnamona as Conor McGrath, Conor Ryan and Damien Browne responded to leave Cratloe a point in arrears after 10 minutes action in Cusack park. Clare netminder Patrick Kelly sent over a huge 100 metre free but this was cancelled out by a brace of scores from Browne and Shane Gleeson to level proceedings after 16 minutes. This scoreline was a tad false as the momentum was with Inagh/Kilnamona once Conor Tierney blasted home the game’s first goal and from there to Seanie McMahon’s long whistle the winners never surrendered the lead. The second quarter witnessed the two sides sharing eight points as Niall (3) and Gerry Arthur were on target for the winners with Cratloe responses coming from Damian Browne (2), Shane Gleeson and Conor Ryan to leave Inagh/Kilnamona three clear at the interval.
The result looked confirmed after six minutes into the new half as Cratloe allowed Niall Arthur (3) and Gerry Coote to stretch the winners lead to seven points. The falseness about the final scoreline came about as Conor McGrath struck for goals in the 37th and 49th minutes. Outside of that Cratloe offered minimalistic resistance to Inagh/Kilnamona who themselves did not over indulge in the scoring stakes in the final twenty five minutes. They defended with style allowing little freedom to the other Cratloe players who are on the Clare hurling panel. Ger Arthur and Eoin Vaughan were on the scoresheet by the 49th minute and in the final minutes they sealed the win with scores from who else but the Arthurs as Cratloe were kept at arms length from the two league points.
This group was always going to provide shocks and it could very well transpire that Crusheen, Inagh/Kilnamona and Cratloe could end up on four points and scoring averages could decide the top two. St Josephs will perhaps suffer for this as Cratloe and Inagh/Kilnamona will have to better the 14 points defeat St Josephs suffered at the hands of Crusheen. If St Josephs perform well against Cratloe or Inagh/Kilnamona and force a low scoring game it could be tantamount to the outcome of the group.
Best for the winners were Patrick Kelly, Milo Keane, Dermot Lynch, Kevin Hehir, the Arthur brothers especially Gerry, Tomas Kelly and Haulie Vaughan. Cratloe will want to forget this game and rebuild for the games with St Josephs and Crusheen.
CRATLOE: Gearoid Ryan, Philip Gleeson, Barry Duggan, Martin Oige Murphy, Michael Hawes, Liam Markham, David Ryan, Shane Gleeson (0-2), Enda Boyce, Conor Ryan (0-2), Padraic Collins (0-1), Sean Collins, Damian Browne (0-5), Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath (2-2). Sean Chaplin for Boyce, Shane O Leary for Ryan.
INAGH/KILNAMONA: Patrick Kelly (0-1), Sean Devitt, Dermot Lynch, Milo Keane, Kevin Hehir, Damian Lafferty, Brian Hehir, Tomas Kelly, Haulie Vaughan, Gerry Arthur (0-5), Eamonn Glynn, Eoin Vaughan (0-1), Gerry Coote (0-1), Niall Arthur (0-10), Conor Tierney (1-0). Subs: David McCarthy for Vaughan, Shane Griffin for Coote, Gerry Coote for Tierney.
Referee: Seanie McMahon (Newmarket on Fergus).
NEWMARKET ON FERGUS……….1-13 KILMALEY………….1-12
By Michael O Connor.
The champions made their bow after their winter and spring solstice basking in the glory but not content to sit in satisfaction of winning one county title after waiting 31 years for the return of the canon. Newmarket celebrated the start of the new championship campaign with a new playing strip similar to the Clare strip of the infamous 1993 Munster final v Tipperary and very nearly came a cropper like Clare two decades ago.
Kilmaley started the game in true championship style with no doubt about their intentions to mix it with the hot favourites. A number of heavy exchanges meted out by Kilmaley appeared to throw Newmarket off their guard and after eight minutes were three points ahead courtesy of Brian McMahon and Ken Kennedy (2 frees). The blues finally got into their stride but with no great fluency with Shane O Brien on target. Shane Liddy forced a great reflex save from Kieran Dillon in the Kilmaley goal who injured himelf in the warm up and was visibly limping throughout the game.
Three minutes later Ken Kennedy converted another free before the intervening two scores fell to David Barrett as Daire Keane received a leg injury and moved upfield with Conor Cleary going to centre back. A timely boost for the Kilmaley cause came from a Kennedy free landed in the square and Padraig Talty first timed to the corner of the net. A brace of scores from Colin Ryan narrowed the Kilmaley lead to two points before Ken Kennedy sent over a 65. The game was turned on its head when Eoin Hayes out in the corner sent the ball into the onrushing Colin Ryan who burst through and blasted past Kieran Dillon.
This goal rattled Kilmaley but interestingly Newmarket were unable to build on it even though Colin Ryan hit over a free a minute later. The last score of the half fell to Ken Kennedy who pointed a free as the crowd roared on their heroes entering the dressingrooms at the break on level terms, (1-6) apiece with more excitement on the agenda.
The injury sustained to Daire Keane forced his withdrawl at the break to be replaced by Aidan McGuane as Kennedy struck for another successful free seconds into the new half. 19 year old Conor Cleary sent Kilmaley two clear as the impetus provided in the opening half was in place once more by the 2004 county champions. Seven minutes elapsed in the new half before Colin Ryan who missed five frees from eminently scorable positions had his sides first score in the second half. His freetaking counterpart Ken Kennedy sent over yet another free after 40 minutes and eight minutes elapsed before Kennedy once more left Kilmaley confident (1-10) to (1-7) leaders with 12 minutes left in this entertaining clash of two motivated sides.
Newmarket on Fergus moved Colin Ryan into corner forward and surprisingly Kilmaley did not move Martin O Connor with him and this allowed Ryan freedom he had not enjoyed heretofore. There was dismay from Newmarket after Ryan set up Shane Liddy for a goal shot which he converted only for referee Ger Hoey to award a free which Ryan cannoned off the crossbar. Had Newmarket lost the game this decision would have been central to the result. Sean O Connor, Aidan McGuan and two efforsts from Ryan, one from play left the sides deadlocked on (1-11) each with six minutes left of normal time. Daire Keane came on for the last four minutes replacing Brian McMahon as Michael O Malley and Cian Moloney replaced Conor Neylon and Padraig Talty respectively.
Kilmaley hearts and morale were deflated when after providing such a sterling hard hitting display that they watched helplessly as Shane O Brien and Colin Ryan sent the reigning champions two clear entering injury time. Try as they might with some late attacking that lacked incision the vanquished managed one further free from the reliable Kennedy who led what was otherwise a toothless Kilmaley attack who offered little other than frees for scores.
Best for Newmarket who won dirty as champions often do were David Barrett early on, Niall O Connor, Darren Duggan, James McInerney, Sean O Connor, Eoin Hayes, Colin Ryan who had an off day with frees but still ended up (1-8) and Shane O Brien. Kilmaley will need some time to get over how close they came to effectively safeguarding their season and despite it all could yet be dragged into an unwanted relegation quagmire. They had solid displays from Martin O Connor, Kenneth Kennedy, Sean Talty, Eoin Enright, Padraig Talty, Aidan McGuane, Conor Cleary and Diarmuid McMahon in the first half.
NEWMARKET ON FERGUS: Darren Duggan, Eoin O Brien, James McInerney, Shane Kelleher, Niall O Connor, Enda Barrett, Alan Barrett, Eoin Hayes, Sean O Connor (0-1), David Barrett (0-2), Shane O Brien (0-2), Niall Enright, Shane Liddy, Ronan Goode, Colin Ryan (1-8). Subs: James Liddy for S Liddy, Martin O Hanlon for Goode, Michael McInerney for N Enright.
KILMALEY: Kieran Dillon, Martin O Connor, Alan Markham, Sean Talty, Eoin Enright, Daire Keane, Noel Casey, Kenneth Kennedy (0-9), Colin McGuane, Michael O Neill, Diarmuid McMahon, Conor Cleary (0-1), Conor Neylon, Brian McMahon (0-1), Padraig Talty (1-0). Subs: Aidan McGuane (0-1) for Keane, Keane for B McMahon, Michael O Malley for Neylon, Cian Moloney for P Talty
Referee: Ger Hoey (Killanena)
SCARIFF…………..3-7 WOLFE TONES…………..1-10
By Michael O Connor.
A true relegation qualifier if ever one existed and both clubs knew this well. Whilst success does not secure safety from the relegation bloodbath that will ensue in the autumn it does make the summer break more bearable for the winner and for the loser a summer of discontent and worry.
Conor McNamara opened the scoring in the first minute for the East Clare men as the favourites started with intent. John Guilfoyle responded for Wolfe Tones who over the hour missed hugely the services of Aaron Cunningham. Conor McNamara struck for the game’s first goal in the 3rd minute only for Bobby McPhillips to cancel this score with a successful penalty effort as this game witnessed two goals after just five minutes . Daithi O Connell and Cathal Nash exchanged scores as the sides were level once more.
Scariff were slightly the better side but Wolfe Tones kept in contact simply as Scariff could not turn their early possession into scores. Ironically it was a direct contrast in the last quarter. Mark Mulvihill and Ross Horan moved well to score two points in three minutes to open up a (1-4) to (1-2) lead after 18 minutes. Joe McGauley and Ross Horan once again swopped scores before a 23rd minute Bobby McPhillips free left the minimum, (1-5) to (1-4) between the sides.
Wolfe Tones were far from confident dealing with high ball into their square and three failed clearances in the 25th minute gave Barry Nash the chance to unleash a simple but effective ground stroke that sent the ball past Trevor O Donnell to send Scariff four clear. Wolfe Tones were being let off the hook on a number of occasions as pressure from Scariff crumbled as they fouled in the half forward line. Barry Loughnane had the final score of the first half from play with four minutes to play to leave a goal between the sides, (2-5) to (1-5). Even the most optimistic Shannon supporters could not see success as the final result as more was expected from Scariff in the second half and Shannon looked toothless upfront. Compounding problems for Wolfe Tones was the retirement due to injury of Brian O Connell to be replaced by younger brother Gary in the dying stages of the first half.
Gareth McPhillips entered the fray for the second half and it started promisingly with John Guilfoyle (free) and McPhillips also from a free on target to leave Wolfe Tones trailing by the minimum. Ross Horan hit back with a free in the 38th minute as Wolfe Tones with the midfield pairing of Daithi O Connell and Kevin McCafferty driving out from the back and in general Wolfe Tones were coping well with Scariff who were beginning to defend more regularly. However in one of the greatest meltdowns in hurling by any club in recent times Wolfe Tones gave away the win in the last twenty five minutes. The Shannon club hit 12 wides with nearly half coming from frees from 40 yards and further in. Scariff allowed Wolfe Tones every opportunity to win the game as they managed only one score from the start of the second half until the 48th minute and looked extremely vunerable when Shannon attacked. Gareth McPhillips and Barry Nash exchanged scores in the 44th and 48th minutes. The minimum once again separated the sides before a powerful first time drop shot from Conor McNamara from an acute angle sped past Trevor O Donnell in the 50th minute to leave Scariff a hardly deserving five points ahead entering the final ten minutes.
Even at this juncture Wolfe Tones were still in control and hit five wides in the last ten minutes and with the game in the dying embers could have got a result as they missed two goal chances. Gareth McPhillips and John Guilfoyle hit scores in the 52nd and 61st minute but the equalising goal was not to be much to the delight of Mike McNamara’s men who will feel that they have taken a huge step in the road to safety and the senior B final. Best for the East Clare men were Shane Mulvihill, veteran Darragh Kelly at full back, Michael Scanlon the Nash brothers especially Diarmuid, Alfie Rodgers, Ross Horan and Conor McNamara. Wolfe Tones will feel the long wait to round 2 of the championship as motivation to take on Broadford and Ballyea will now become crucial in the summer months of inactivity. The efforts of Daithi O Connell, Kevin McCafferty, Bobby McPhillips, Gary O Connell, John Guilfoyle, Jamie Roughan and Joe McGauley should be noted.
SCARIFF: Shane Mulvihill, Shane McMahon, Darragh Kelly, Padraig Brody, Michael Scanlon, Cathal Nash (0-1), Matthew Horan, Alfie Rodgers, Diarmuid Nash, Conor McNamara (2-1), Shane Corry, Ross Horan (0-3), Austin Madden, Barry Nash (1-1), Mark Mulvihill (0-1).
WOLFE TONES: Trevor O Donnell, Declan McCarthy, Brian O Connell, Shane O Sullivan, Jamie Roughan, Bobby McPhillips (1-1), Stephen McInerney, Kevin McCafferty, Daithi O Connell (0-1), David Dunne, John Guilfoyle (0-3), Barry Loughnane (0-1), Joe McGauley (0-1), Brendan Hughes, Andy Shanagher. Subs: Gary O Connell for Brian O Connell (inj), Craig O Brien for Dunne, Gareth McPhillips (0-3) for Shanagher.
REFEREE: Johnny Healy (Smith O Briens).