Back Row: Patrick Donnellan, Brendan Bugler, Conor Ryan, David McInerney and Colm Galvin.
Front Row: Pádraic Collins, Tony Kelly and Conor McGrath
Pádraic Collins, David McInerney, Tony Kelly, Conor Ryan and Colm Galvin
Colin Ryan, Rachel Keaney, Domhnaill O'Donovan and Louise Raleigh
Tony Kelly and Naomi McMahon
David McInerney and Emma Casey
Brendan Bugler and Josephine Crowe
Brendan Bugler and Edel Leahy
Shane O'Donnell & Podge Collins
Three-hundred people attended a gala function at the Auburn Lodge Hotel last Sunday night when the members of the Clare minor hurling team that won the provincial title last July were presented with their medals.
Clare GAA chairman Michael O’Neill told the players that they, combined with the U-21s of last year “are the future of Clare hurling”.
“We are not too far away from a senior All-Ireland title. We will win one in the not-too-distant future. There is a lot of work going in at development level, in the game and in facilities, which will bring success at different levels. We have the management and the clubs and I have no doubt that we will have senior wins,” he said.
Sean Walsh, chairman of the Munster GAA Council, said, “This is a special night for Clare and particularly for the players.” A Kerry minor selector for five years, the provincial council official told the players that the friendships they made this year would last a lifetime. He went on to thank all the patrons who came to the games. “We are in difficult times and it behoves us all to get a number of things right and to make sure that we have the structures right to allow the parents and all who want to come to our games to do so.”
Joint manager Donal Moloney said that while the past year was a forgettable year, for many for them it had been unforgettable. “These lads achieved so much on and off the field and did so with style and class. We could dwell on the All-Ireland final and we could continue crying over the fact that we probably should have closed the deal. There isn’t a day goes by without thinking of that and maybe we left it behind us but to dwell on that would do a severe injustice to what these lads have accomplished in 2010,” he said.
“Humility and a willingness to learn were the very cornerstones of everything we set about and these guys devoured information. They feared no one. When we look at the year and the highlights, people will expect us to say the All-Ireland final and the Munster final and yes, these were highlights. The Munster final was a bit of an anti-climax as it didn’t go down to the wire as we expected,” he said.
“The real highlight was on May 4 in Cusack Park, which will never be forgotton. Every great journey has to begin with a significant step. Tipperary have been one of our great rivals.
“They bring out the best and the worst in us. We have envied them over the years. We saw the best of this bunch in the second half that day,” he said, before paying tribute to his fellow backroom team members and to the county board who “delivered everything we asked.”
According to joint manager Gerry O’Connor, “The start was when we met in Clarecastle, a group of 30 plus. We asked them to commit to Clare for one year and it worked. There was a bond formed that is unbreakable.”
The Éire Óg clubman went on to recall the journey from Dublin City University to Croke Park on All-Ireland final day, one of the most emotional five minutes of their lives. “That five minutes epitomised everything about the journey of the last 10 months. We had become Team Clare, as we had asked in Clarecastle. We will never forget 2010.”
He paid tribute to the supporters and had a special word for the parents.
“We have got to be innovative now more than ever. The biggest challenge facing you now is not Cork, Tipperary or Kilkenny, It’s the economic situation we find ourselves in,” he said.
“The much-maligned county board has come in for a lot of criticism over the years but I have to say to Michael and Pat and to our sponsor, Pat O’Donnell, anything we asked for, we received.”
Team captain Paul Flanagan said it was a massive honour to have been captain before thanking the players, the management and the county board for a special year. “We all bought into it. The first game didn’t go our way. We knew we were a strong team and it came down to the work we put in and it paid off in the end. The Munster final was a game we were waiting for and we were delighted to get Waterford,” he said.
Master of ceremonies for the evening was RTÉ’s Marty Morrissey.
For the record the members of the Munster minor hurling championship winning panel in 2010 who were presented with their medals by Ger Loughnane are: Aaron Cunningham (Wolfe Tones); Alan Mulready, Jamie Shanahan, Kevin Lynch, Noel Purcell, Pa Sheehan, Seadna Morey (Sixmilebridge); Cathal Doohan, Tony Kelly, Paul Flanagan, Captain (Ballyea); Cathal Malone (Ennistymon); Colm Galvin, Cathal O’Connell (Clonlara); Daire Keane, Michael O’Neill (Kilmaley); Damian Lafferty, Haulie Vaughan, Niall Arthur (Inagh-Kilnamona); Darragh Corry, David McInerney (Tulla); Davy O’Halloran (Éire Óg); Enda Boyce, Paudge Collins (Cratloe); Frank Melody, Niall Woods (Newmarket); Jarlath Colleran, Niall De Loughrey (Doora-Barefield); Martin Moroney (Parteen); Ronan Taaffe (Tubber); Stephen O’Halloran (Clarecastle) and Tomas McNamara (Whitegate).
The team mentors were Donal Moloney (Scariff) and Gerry O’Connor (Éire Óg); joint managers, Paul Kinnerk (Monaleen, Limerick) Jimmy Browne (Clonlara) and Eamonn Fennessy (Sixmilebridge), together with physiotherapist Diarmuid Horgan and Dr Padraic Quinn.
THE draws for the 2011 inter-county senior hurling and football championships were made last week and Clare could hardly have been dealt for a tougher draw.
The footballers will play All-Ireland champions Cork, while the hurlers could also have to take on All-Ireland champions, as they play the winners of the first round tie between Tipperary and Cork.
“Historically most counties that play a preliminary game benefit from it. It’s the draw and that’s it. We will end up playing one of the top three or four teams in the country. It’s an awful tough draw but we must try and rise to it,” hurling manager Ger O’Loughlin said.
While O’Loughlin will be keeping the provincial semi-final date in mind, he said, “We have to concentrate on the league first and see how it will treat us. We can’t offer any excuses this year. We have a lot more time to prepare. We know the players better and we must ensure that we get out of Division 2, which won’t be easy”.
He added that the so-called weaker counties like Carlow and Antrim have got stronger. “Now you have Limerick in the division. It will be a tough campaign. I will be hoping that come championship time, physically and mentally, we will be ready and will give it our best shot. We will be building over the next few years to compete with the top sides.”
Meanwhile, football boss Micheál McDermott described the challenge facing the county footballers “as tough as they come”.
“I understand that we will be travelling to play them in Pairc Ui Caoimh. It’s a huge challenge for all the players and if they have ambitions for Clare football, they will look forward to putting it up to the champions. Nobody will expect Clare to win but we will have a real cut at it,” he said.
Clare’s preparations will be in three stages. “There is the McGrath Cup in January, then the league campaign and we will be striving to get out of Division 4 and then it will be onto the championship. The league, in our view, is critical and getting promotion is vital but it won’t be easy. This year we face a tough opening tie against Leitrim in Carrick-on-Shannon while our final two games will be away to Fermanagh and Wicklow, who will both be expected to be in the shake-up at that stage.”
Meanwhile, the National Hurling League fixtures for 2011 have also been finalised. The hurlers play their opening game on Sunday, February 13 when rivals Limerick provide the opposition at Cusack Park. The footballers will have opened their campaign a week earlier in Carrick-on-Shannon against Leitrim.
Hurling (Division 2)
Sunday, February 13, at home to Limerick; Sunday, February 20, away to Antrim; Sunday, March 6, away to Westmeath; Sunday, March 13, at home to Down; Saturday, March 26, at home to Kerry; Saturday, April 2, away to Laois; Sunday, April 17 at home to Carlow.
Football (Division 4)
Sunday, February 6, away to Leitrim; Saturday, February 12, at home to Kilkenny; Sunday, February 27, away to Carlow; Saturday, March 12, at home to London; Sunday, March 20, at home to Roscommon; Sunday, March 27, at home to Longford; Sunday, April 3, away to Fermanagh; Sunday, April 10, away to Wicklow.
The provincial championships will dominate proceedings from here to the end of the season. The dates involving Clare clubs are:
Senior Football: November 7, Doonbeg travel to play Waterford champions, Ballinacourty or Stradbally; November 21, winners play Cork champions with the final scheduled for December 5.
Intermediate Football: November 7, Clare champions (Clondegad or St Breckan’s) at home to Tipperary champions; November 14, winners away to Waterford champions; November 28, Munster final.
Junior Football: November 21, Kilfenora travel to play Waterford champions; November 28, winners play Limerick champions; December 12, final.
Senior Hurling: October 31, Clare champions (Cratloe or Crusheen) at home to Kilmallock; November 14, winners play Tipperary champions; Novembr 28, final.
Intermediate Hurling: October 31, Clare champions (Killanena or Ruan) at home to Tipperary; November 7, Winners play Waterford; November 21, final.
Clare will not be represented in the junior hurling competition as they do not have an exclusive junior A hurling club.
Whatever the outcome of this Sunday’s Intermediate Hurling Championship final between Killanena and Ruan, there is sure to be a great atmosphere at Cusack Park for the eagerly awaited clash.
Killanena have never won this title while one has to go back to 1978 for Ruan’s last appearance in the final. On that occasion, they beat Clonlara and in the process, held the South-East Clare club scoreless. They returned to senior ranks and contested the senior final in 1988 when they lost to Feakle. A few years later, they dropped back down to intermediate where they have been competing since the early ’90s.
Emigration has hit both parishes hard over the years and it would appear that it is beginning to take its toll again.
“There are a number of players in our squad this year that are out of work but they answered our call and agreed to remain at home to help us have another crack at winning this title. Whatever the outcome of the final, it would appear that some will have to emigrate in an effort to find work. This is something John O’Donnell had to do and he is now in Australia,” explained Killanena manager Colman Houlihan this week.
Speaking after their semi-final win over Clarecastle, Ruan boss Pat Meaney said, “We have been honouring past teams and past players in recent times and they were all deserving of the honours they received but it is time for a present-day team to be honoured now. There is huge interest in hurling in the parish, which has had more than its share of tragedies over the past half dozen years. This is a very young side and they have come through thanks to the work being done by Cyril Lyons at school level, and by the likes of Flan Lyons, Gearóid Roughan and Kevin McDonnell, all great hurlers with the club in the past at juvenile level.”
The Ruan boss, whose backroom team includes Jimmy Courtney, Cyril Lyons and Mike Daffy, noted that Crusheen is situated between Ruan and Killanena and all three parishes are involved in hurling finals this week.
East Clare side Killanena have been knocked out of this championship in each of the last four years by the eventual winners. They lost to Clooney-Quin in the 2006 final and to Clonlara in the decider a year later. In 2008 they went out at the semi-final stage to Broadford who went on to win the title, while last year they were also stopped at the semi-final stage, this time by Whitegate who won the title. Back in the ’ 80s they lost finals to Scariff and Wolfe Tones.
Team boss Houlihan is joined by David McNamara (trainer), Martin Smith and Joe Moloney in the backroom team while, in recent weeks, Davy Fitzgerald and Louis Mulqueen have been assisting with the preparations. Incidentally, Mulqueen trained Killanena in 2006 before David Forde took over for the next two years with Fergie Tuohy then taking charge last year.
Jimmy Collins was manager for three years, 2006, 2007 and 2008 before Colman Houlihan took over as manager last year when he was assisted by Fergie Tuohy and Michael Moroney.
“Clooney-Quin beat us in 2006 and they had been knocking on the door for a while. Losing a year later to Clonlara was particularly heartbreaking because we held a six point lead in that game. That defeat was a huge blow,” admitted Houlihan.
Both sides have some injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s final. Ruan centre back Jonathon Clohessy suffered a leg injury in the first half of their semi-final win over Clarecastle and he remains a doubtful starter for the final. “He is receiving treatment for the injury and it’s touch and go as to whether or not he will be ready. Otherwise we have a full squad from which to select our team,” according to Ruan boss Meaney.
The team is captained by goalie Pakie Roughan and will include Killian Ryan, Michael Vaughan, John Punch, Niall O’Connor and Dara Roughan who has been outstanding throughout the campaign
Killanena followers expect that Enda Collins will play some part in the game. A key member of the side in recent years, he missed all of this season due to injury until making an appearance during their quarter final win over Éire Óg. Collins was again introduced during their semi-final victory over Sixmilebridge.
The team is captained by inter-county man Mark Flaherty who will be joined by his brother Ronan, the Noone brothers, David, Barry, Pat and Michael, and the McNamara brothers, Brian, Liam and Gerry while others in their line up will be Alan McNamara, John O’Meara and Noel Sheedy.
The sides last met on May 1 in Division 2B of the Clare Champion cup and, on that occasion, Ruan were winners of the high-scoring tie, 5-11 to 3-13.
Their paths to Sunday’s final suggest that they are evenly matched. Cyril Lyons is a highly respected coach who has done a lot of work in bringing Ruan to the stage they are at while the presence of both Davy Fitzgerald and Louis Mulqueen with Killanena means that they also have the benefit of two experienced sideline officials.
It has all the ingredients of a cracking game and there should be little between the teams at the end of play. The winners will be back in action seven days later as they take on their Tipperary counterparts in the Munster championship. Opinions are divided as to who will be entertaining the Tipperary champions but the experience gained by Killanena over the past four years might just see them ahead at the final whistle.
County senior hurling final
By Michael O Connor.
In Crusheen there is a mystical place called the Island where it is said that anyone who is to be buried in the island cemetery can hear a wailing noise just before their final breath. Legend it may be but for all those souls who lie within the Island there was a wail of delight from them and from all Crusheen people alive throughout the world at Sean McMahon’s long whistle that signalled a huge outpouring of emotion in Cusack Park on Sunday last. Crusheen after 123 years searching for solace with a county cup can now plan for an assault on the munster club championship but not before remembering a titantic campaign that ended with success over a gallant Cratloe side in Cusack park.
The start of a dynasty or the breaking of a hoodoo could be one way to describe the meeting of these apparently two evenly balanced sides in the annual battle for the canon Hamilton. The rain fall the morning of the game caused many to wonder what side it would benefit or hinder most as well as the many tactical moves and positional switches that might be put into action to gain a perceived advantage for even any juncture of the game. The prematch odds were definitely favouring the reigning champions as Cratloe were on offer at 4/7 with Crusheen at 13/8 and ominous draw sneaking in at 8/1 for those who wished a real gamble. The return of influential Cathal Dillon saw Crusheen corner forward Patrick Meaney may way to a place on the replacements bench as speculation centred around the possible inclusion from the start of Martin Oige Murphy who had missed the semi final due to a troublesome groin injury.
In the semi finals Crusheen had to battle hard to overcome a Sixmilebridge side that might feel they left it behind them whilst Cratloe need ed a replay to account for 2008 champions Clonlara. To exemplify the closeness between the sides on the scoreboard Crusheen defeated Sixmilebridge by the minimum, Cratloe and Sixmilebridge drew in the league section, Clonlara defeated Crusheen by a point and it took Cratloe a replay to account for Clonlara with the scores in all games close to each other. Crusheen’s previous appearance on county final day had ended in heartache as Tulla secured the title on a (1-7) to (0-9) success as Cratloe in their maiden final edged past Clonlara with a last gasp Padraic Chaplin goal to win the crown. As a result the portents were in place for a tension packed potboiler between two fast young sides with contrasting styles to keep the large attendance on tenderhooks.
The game started off in storming fashion as Crusheen received the start that they craved when a long free by Ciaran O Doherty fell to Fergus Kennedy and the under 21 county man finished past Sean Hawes. Within seconds Cratloe had their first score with Conor McGrath evading Cronan Dillon and popping a smart effort over the bar. Cathal McInerney added the second Cratloe score in the 4th minute before Conor McGrath set up Conor Ryan for Cratloe’s goal that saw them score (1-2) in three minutes to negate Crusheen’s positive start. Ciaran O Doherty pointed from play from wing back before sending an effort from placed ball wide of Sean Hawes. Enda Boyce, whose father John hurled a championship with Crusheen many moons after sent over a smart effort before Pat Vaughan 65 and Sean Collins added scores after only ten minutes to leave the 2009 champions (1-4) to (1-2) ahead.
Enda Boyce was dispossessed as Joe Meaney made no mistake before Pat Vaughan with a free had the sides on level terms at the end of the opening quarter. Indeed Cratloe kept Crusheen in contact by committing a number of fouls and they were fortunate that Vaughan’s freetaking let him down from tight angles on two occasions. Another Vaughan free sent Crusheen a point clear before Tony Meaney entered the referee’s notepad after a rash challenge on Sean Collins. Conor McGrath pointed the resultant free as the sides were deadlocked once again after 22 minutes. Only one more score materialised despite some spirited hurling by both sides with Crusheen shading possession percentages. Pat Vaughan with his second wide from a free made up for this with the final score of the first half after Barry Duggan brought down O Grady. Duggan signalled to the line that he was in trouble but started the second half. Crusheen went in at the break ahead by the minimum (1-6) to (1-5).
A moment of supreme skill announced the second half with a pin point pass from Damian Browne found Cathal McInerney who beat three before scoring to level the game. From the Crusheen puck out O Grady won a free that was scored by Vaughan. Crusheen had a couple of close shaves with Cratloe attacks that required Donal Touhy to be on top form. Another sharp movement involving a quick free from Markham found Murphy who in turn fed McGrath and he equalised matters after 34 minutes. Six minutes of end to end action finished with Pat Vaughan popping over yet another free with twenty minutes to play to once more put the challengers a point clear. A sense that perhaps the running game of Cratloe was not as efficient as in other games was evident as McGrath was not receiving clear cut possession as Cronan Dillon kept him away from goal. Fergus Kennedy fed Conor O Donnell who unmarked sent Crusheen a vital two points clear after 41 minutes. Kennedy was now at full forward with Patrick Meaney in at right corner forward and O Grady at top of the left. Meaney who was expected to be a goal man replaced Gearoid O Donnell as Crusheen went three clear after Gerry O Grady was on target.
Cratloe were trying too hard to score the killer goal and one might suggest they spurned two or three point scoring chances in the process. Indeed with so much expected of McGrath and the resultant pressure brought on by same Cratloe began to look to others namely Cathal McInerney as the Cratloe half forward line were decimated by a truly dominant Crusheen half back line led by the Dillon brothers with Ciaran O Doherty the enforcer on his wing. Sean Chaplin replaced Martin Oige Murphy with 15 minutes to play as John Brigdale was booked. The Crusheen lead was restored to three after another free by Vaughan after John Brigdale was booked. The score remained the same for the intervening 6 minutes before Conor McGrath hit a free as Crusheen players began to go down mysteriously with cramp in the final ten minutes. Conor O Donnell was now marking Padraig Collins as John Brigdale who was carrying a knock was out of danger at corner forward with Grady outfield. The decisive moment of the game fell to Paddy Meaney whose low trajectory shot hit the far corner of Sean Hawes net in the 57th minute. This score put Crusheen five clear. Sean Chaplin responded straight from the puck out. Pat Vaughan with another free, Joe Meaney from play and Paddy Meaney in the 63rd minute and Crusheen had ended one of the longest famines in Clare GAA.
The new champions were served well by Donal Touhy, Cronan Dillon, Ciaran O Doherty, Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon, Pat Vaughan, Paddy Meaney, Joe Meaney and Fergus Kennedy. Cratloe had strong displays in defeat from Barry Duggan, David Ryan, Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath early on, Liam Markham, Michael Hawes and Sean Chaplin when introduced.
CRUSHEEN: Donal Touhy, John Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, Alan Brigdale, Ciaran o Doherty, Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon, Tony Meaney, Paddy Vaughan (0-8), Gearoid O Donnell, Joe Meaney (0-2), David Forde, Conor O Donnell (0-1), Gerry O Grady (0-1), Fergus Kennedy (1-0). Subs: Paddy Meaney (1-1) for G O Donnell, Alan Touhy for Vaughan
CRATLOE: Sean Hawes, Philip Gleeson, Barry Duggan, David Ryan, John O Gorman, Michael Hawes, Liam Markham, Enda Boyce (0-1), Sean Collins (0-1), Conor Ryan (1-0), Damian Browne, Cathal McInerney (0-3), Conor McGrath (0-4), Padraig Collins. Subs: Sean Chaplin (0-1) for Murphy,
Referee: Sean McMahon (Newmarket).
After the game the Canon Hamilton cup was presented for the first time ever to a Crusheen man Gerry O Grady by County chairman Michael O Neill, as Cian Dillon was picked as man of the match.
Somewhere over the din, Martin Murphy’s voice sailed out with the cheers
after Barry Duggan’s acceptance speech last October. “Glory Cratloe”,
trumpeted Martin and the crowd rowed in. The slogan had made itself a
friend to Jack Murphy and Kilmihil football in Martin’s playing days of
the 1970’s and 80’s. In 2009, Cratloe had adopted it. This year it has
made it onto Paddy Mac’s Wall, Donaghue’s Bridge, Lamposts, Silage Bales,
Bunting and even under the collar of the jersey that Cratloe will wear
However what ‘Glory Kilmihil’ doesn’t tell you is the history of the team
that had befriended it. Kilmihil’s friends in Kilrush, the bluebloods of
Clare football in the 70’s were quick to congratulate their neighbours of
their ‘one in a row’ when Kilmihil, who came home from the County Final
emptyhanded five times between the two decades, at last breached the
surface as champions of 1980. One day in the sun maybe, but what a day.
It punched an interuption of six County titles in seven years for The
Shamrocks including their legendary five on the trot. So ‘Glory Kilmihil’
rang out once, but it rang out loud.
The same challenge present itself to Cratloe this Sunday. Are they a good
team in an open championship? A “one in a row” team. Or are they a right
good team, the first to be engraved back to back on the base of the Canon
Hamilton since St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in 1998/99. Nobody calls
Joseph’s a flash in the pan.
Much much more than any of the history or the statistics that stand in
their way on Sunday is the village of the little cross – Crusheen. Three
times Crusheen have marched behind the Tulla pipes only to fall short on
all three – 1970, 74 and most recently in 2007 when their current manager
and native Michael Browne stood in the opposite dressing room with Tulla.
“It was one of those bittersweet occasions”, said Browne in this weeks
Clare Champion. “One year prervious to that final you would have got a
million to one on a Crusheen-Tulla final. My aim when I got involved last
year was to try and get them back into a County Final. I really wanted
them to get back there to another and so long as we can say we have done
ourselves justice and I can say I have done no more, that is all we can
Browne’s Crusheen side have garnered the reputation, and rightfully so, of
having the meanest defence in Clare hurling. So much so perhaps, that the
talk tends to thin out their attacking threat. But an interesting
statistic uncovered in the build up to Sunday’s final is that they have
only fallen eleven points behind Cratloe’s 2010 scoring total….with a game
less played. Any attack with Paddy Meaney, Gearoid O Donnell, Niall
Kennedy and their intercounty talisman Gerry O Grady are worthy of a place
in a County Final and perhaps Crusheen six up front may be the final’s
surprise package. There’s little to be said for Crusheen’s backs. They’re
touted as the perfect antidote for Cratloe’s pacey forwards. It’s not
every club that can sacrifice losing an all-star nominee, turn him into a
forward and yet hold their standing as Clare’s tightest rearguard.
The journey to the County Final saw Crusheen overcome Sixmilebridge their
Semi in an enthralling game which swapped hands again and again by 13pts
to 12. They accounted for Clarecastle in the Quarters by a goal 1-10 to
0-10 and in their group games they qualified with very comprehensive wins
over Corofin, Ballyea and St. Josephs. The only blip being a one point
defeat to Clonlara.
Cratloe arrive after wins v. Wolfe Tones and Inagh/Kilnamona, a draw with
Sixmilebridge and a loss to Tubber. Newmarket were pipped the quarter
finals before Clonlara were defeated in last weekends Semi at the second
time of asking.
Sunday’s pairing is certainly seen as a collision of two contrasting
styles. Crusheen to date thrive on a compact physical game. Dominant under
puckouts in their half back line and quick to limit space to the
opposition. The opposite techniques are what Cratloe’s game thrives upon.
Their forwards and their scoring potential is no secret at this stage but
their duel against these backs is expected to be their hardest yet. And
maybe Cratloe are in the same boat as their contenders. Does the talk of
their attack veil the steel of their backs?. The second half performance
of Michael Hawes, Barry Duggan and co. against Clonlara in the replayed
Semi final and most notably in their Quarter Final tie with Newmarket
showed a sterness not associated with Cratloe before last years
All these stats, ifs, buts, and maybes will be Mondays cat-litter if the
last four County Finals are anything to go by. Four in which the underdogs
have always won. That’s probably a warning to Cratloe, as ever so slightly
they may wear the favourites tag this weekend. To get to where they are
now though, Cratloe have had scant regard for form and it may serve them
well to do so again Sunday. They know Crusheen will be doing anything not
to let another title slip.
Ar Aghaidh Linn
Cratloe vs Crusheen
2010 Co. SHC Final – Cusack Park Ennis, 3;30pm Sunday
Referee; Seanie McMahon, Cora Chaitlín
Champions Tipperary open up against Cork
Tipperary may have bigger things on their mind following the departure of hurling manager Liam Sheedy today, but whoever takes over from the All-Ireland-winning manager will face familiar foes in the opening match of their defence after they were drawn at home to Cork in the Munster quarter-finals next year.
The two sides met in the provincial opener last year, with Cork winning by 10 points at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The winners go on to face Clare in the semi-finals, while Donal O'Grady’s first game in charge of Limerick will be a clash against Waterford in the other semi-final tie.
The meeting of Dublin and Offaly is the pick of the Leinster quarter-finals, with Kilkenny receiving a bye to the semi-final, where they will play either Wexford or the winners of the preliminary round tie between Antrim and Laois. Galway play the winners of the game between Carlow and Westmeath, with the winner facing Dublin or Offaly in the semi-finals.
The highlight of the football draw looks to be the clash of neighbours in Ulster, with beaten All-Ireland finalists Down drawn to play Armagh in the quarter-finals. Defending Ulster champions Tyrone take on Monaghan, Derry play Fermanagh, while the last quarter-final will see the winner of the Donegal v Antrim preliminary round game taking on Cavan.
All-Ireland football champions Cork have been drawn against Clare in the Munster quarter-finals, while provincial champions Kerry will play Tipperary in a repeat of last year's quarter-final clash at Semple Stadium. The winners of that game face Limerick in the semi-finals, while Waterford await the winners of the Clare v Cork tie.
In Leinster, Meath go straight into the quarter-finals, where they will take on the winners of Kildare and Wicklow. Dublin face the winners of the Laois v Longford preliminary round clash in the quarter-finals, with the winner of the Wexford v Offaly game going on to meet Westmeath. Carlow will face Louth in the last eight after both sides were drawn straight into the quarter-finals.
Defending Connacht champions Sligo face Leitrim in the preliminary round, while a meeting with Galway in the semi-finals would be on the cards for Mayo if they can see off London in the preliminary round.
2011 ALL-IRELAND FOOTBALL PROVINCIAL DRAWS
Kerry v Tipperary
Clare v Cork
Limerick v Kerry/Tipperary
Waterford v Clare/Cork
New York v Roscommon
London v Mayo
Leitrim v Sligo
Galway v London/Mayo
Leitrim/Sligo v New York/Roscommon
Donegal v Antrim
Donegal/Antrim v Cavan
Derry v Fermanagh
Armagh v Down
Tyrone v Monaghan
Kildare v Wicklow
Laois v Longford
Wexford v Offaly
Kildare/Wicklow v Meath
Laois/Longford v Dublin
Wexford/Offaly v Westmeath
Carlow v Louth
2011 ALL-IRELAND HURLING PROVINCIAL DRAWS
Antrim v Laois
Carlow v Westmeath
Dublin v Offaly
Antrim/Laois v Wexford
Galway v Carlow/Westmeath
Dublin/Offaly v Galway/Carlow or Westmeath
Antrim or Laois/Wexford v Kilkenny
Tipperary v Cork
Limerick v Waterford
Clare v Tipperary/Cork
THE psychology surrounding Sunday’s 116th Clare senior football final could have a significant influence on the result. It definitely will if both Doonbeg and Liscannor have not addressed potential trip wires well before the 3.30pm start time in Cusack Park.
Once Doonbeg qualified for the semi–final, their meeting with county and Munster champions Kilmurry-Ibrickane had an epochal feel about it. Nobody said it but there was a discernible sense that a third successive semi–final loss would strip this Doonbeg team off all remnants of resolve.
From where would they find the stomach to start again in 2011 if they had again fallen in the penultimate round? Remember, they were also beaten in the 2007 and ’08 Cusack Cup finals and indeed lost narrowly to Miltown in this year’s league semi–final.
Now that they have beaten Kilmurry though, can Doonbeg park that result and rise their game again for Liscannor? Beating Kilmurry will have infused them with welcome confidence but is there a chance that they might, subliminally, feel that Liscannor will not present a similarly onerous obstacle?
Putting it simply, unless Doonbeg are as clearly focused and prepared for Liscannor as they were for Kilmurry, they won’t be bringing an 18th county title west on Sunday evening.
Liscannor, too, have some psychological issues to wrestle with and tame if they are to make history and bring Jack Daly to their parish for the first time. While an amalgamation from North Clare containing eight Liscannor men won the 1940 Senior Football Championship, a win this weekend would be Liscannor’s first title on their own. To manage it, they will have to perform better than they did in 2008, when they were never in real contention against Kilmurry. They have won all three semi–finals played since 2002 but they must work on peaking come county final afternoon if they are to do it.
The fact that Doonbeg are their opponents will mean Liscannor won’t fear them the way they might be wary of Kilmurry, who also beat them in the ’02 and ’08 final. On top of that, Liscannor defeated Doonbeg in the ’08 semi–final, so they have that fairly recent memory to draw from. Therefore, the psychological advantage should be with Liscannor. They know what county final day is all about, their motivation to win should be huge and they won’t be afraid of anything Doonbeg have to offer.
Away from what either team may be thinking, where will the on-field advantages lie? Liscannor should hold sway in midfield with Brian Considine likely to be partnered with Ronan Slattery, who has lined-out there since Alan Flaherty’s suspension, although the latter will be available this weekend.
Colm Dillon will have a huge job taking on Considine, while Slattery and Enda Doyle are likely to pair up. Doyle should get about the field more effectively but Slattery will thrive if there is a bit of combat in the middle. He will have to improve his distribution though, which wasn’t great in the semi–final against Cooraclare.
Both teams will strive to cut down on scoreable frees. If they don’t, both Alan Clohessy and David Tubridy should tot up handy scores. In fact, Clohessy’s semi–final free taking is one of the primary reasons Liscannor made it through. However, he will have to contribute more in the Doonbeg half of the field from open play. Clohessy tracked very impressively against Cooraclare but if Liscannor are to win their first title, he might have to chip in with a couple of scores from play.
Liscannor could opt to revert Ronan Slattery to centre-back and place Dara Blake on David Tubridy but they are more likely to leave their full-back intact. The trio played very well last time out and a change now might not help the confidence. What Liscannor need to do is put the pressure on the kicker outfield so that he can’t easily pick out the runs of Tubridy and Shane Ryan.
Padraig Gallagher will probably pick up Kieran Considine, while Conor Whelan could step in if Considine repeats his impressive semi–final display.
Players who will have key roles to play if their team is to win include Niall Considine, Joe Considine and Denis Murphy, in possibly a substitutes role, while Brian Egan, Shane Killeen and Frank O’Dea will have to make it happen for the hour in the Doonbeg half-forward line to get their hands on Jack.
Tradition suggests Doonbeg will win and if Liscannor buy that, they are finished. This group of Liscannor footballers are capable of creating their own tradition and, in fact, have done so already. To complete the picture, though, they must win a senior title. Their overwhelming desire to do it should be evident in Cusack Park all Sunday afternoon.
Come 5pm, David McDonagh can become the first Liscannor man to captain his club to a senior championship. They have the motivation and the men to make it happen.
ALL IRELAND MINOR HURLING FINAL
By Michael O Connor.
A case of one that got away. The 2010 All Ireland minor hurling final when put under review will show that Clare were as good if not better than the young Kilkenny starlets in the All Ireland Minor hulinrg final but the inability to score not even one goal cost them the title as defensive frailities once more raised their unwanted presence.
A poignant moment after the final whistle, after the Irish Press cup had being presented and the Kilkenny side were on their champions trot around Croker. Selector Eamonn Fennessy walked over to an inconsolable Enda Boyce and for a minute said what needs to be said to a young player who had given of his all in the cause of his county.
This group of players were the surprise packet of the year and what a delight it was for supporters following the below par showing all season by the seniors and the defeat at provincial level by the reigning under 21 side. The same management team with a little change here and there had been with this group since under 14 and had won the Munster 15 title before this years heroics.
A solid sale of tickets throughout the county suggested that the Clare public as they had in the semi final were prepared to follow this side to the end. 13/2 odds at least and even 10/1 if searched hard enough for was available with +9 the margin on offer by the bookmakers. The layers were saying in their view Clare were no hopers and it was the ultimate chance that was being left in front of Clare as Kilkenny were being touted as they greatest Kilkenny side of recent if not all time. Their demolition of Galway who imploded in many ways boosted Kikenny’s status .
Clare started with confidence showing that they were not to be overawed by the occasion. Dual star Paudge Collins started off as he meant to continue with the game’s opening score after only a minute’s action. Kilkenny team captain Cillian Buckley responded two minutes later with his sides successful opening effort. The opening five minutes feared by many as danger incarnate for the Clare team was surmounted with ease and indeed such was their poise on the ball it was with increasing hope that Clare might spring a surprise the All Ireland decider. Owen McGrath sent Kilkenny into the lead after six minutes against the run of play.
A magnificent ball from Stephen O Halloran found Collins and the hard working centre forward made no mistake to restore parity between the sides after eight minutes. The referee as the game progressed allowed the game to flow and on a number of occasions it benefitted Clare and then went against them. David O Halloran who had a quiet outing in the semi final was on hand to score a well taken effort after ten minutes. Niall Arthur, of whom much was expected failed to convert a 13th minute free before correcting this a minute later as Clare went two ahead. Daire Keane and David O Halloran (2, one free) amazingly sent Clare coasting clear on a (0-7) to (0-2) scoreline. Niall Arthur received a blow to the hand that held up the game for a number of minutes as David O Halloran took over the freetaking duties.
The confident play of Clare required a goal to close out this game and bar one real chance this need never become a reality. Clare conceded a dubious penalty in the 25th minute and Padraig Walshe effort was blocked partially by Ronan Taaffe before being cleared by Paul Flanagan. Suggestions of the ball being over the goal line were quickly ignored as Clare being totally on top saw Tony Kelly a minute later on target as Clare now held a two goal lead. In the final minutes of the first half Kilkenny grabbed a major foothold on the game as Clare wilted for perhaps the first of only two five minutes spells in the game. Owen McGrath (free) John Power and Michael Brennan struck for scores with Enda Boyce hitting back with a single Clare effort as Kilkenny went on (0-9) to (0-5) in arrears at the break.
Kilkenny after a horrid first half would have had little complaints to be only four points arrears having managed not to concede a goal. Clare for their part realising that they needed to be at least half a dozen in front entering the last quarter required a positive if not explosive start to the second half to quench any revivial in the Kilkenny cause. Tony Kelly struck over the opening score for Clare three minutes into the new half. Disaster number one from a Clare perspective came when a speculative effort sent in from the Kilkenny midfield was caught by full forward Ger Alyward and quickly offloaded to Michael Brennan whose low bouncing effort evaded Ronan Taaffe as Clare were now only two clear.
Paul Buggy was introduced for Thomas O Hanrahan on the Kilkenny side who had the misfortune to be marked by the truly wonderful Seadna Morey who was man of the match in this writers opinion. Paudge Collins set up by an astute Morey pass was fouled with Niall Arthur converting the free. Aaron Cunningham was entered into the game as Cathal Malone made way after 42 minutes. Disaster number two for Clare materialised. Once again the Clare full back line looked under pressure from the high ball sent direct and fast.
Michael Brennan won the ball turned and shot past Taaffe. The definite goal bound shot was helped on the way by Buggy and he will be credited with the goal as Clare were now pulled back to level terms (0-11) to (2-5) after 43 minutes. An unsettling of the Clare team was enforced when Haulie Vaughan was forced to retire injured. Alan Mulready was introduced with Stephen O Halloran moving to right corner back and Jamie Shanahan reverting to wing back. For the second time only in the game Kilkenny achieved a period of pure dominance but managed only four points.
Conversely, in a low scoring tie and Clare appearing toothless in front of goal this four point tally was enough to hurt Clare. Kevin Kelly, Ger Alyward who had a huge role for the eventual winners in the second half, Kevin Kelly and Padraig Walsh were the Kilkenny sharpshooters between the 47th and 52nd minutes. David O Halloran (2) responded for a spirited Clare side by the 53rd minute as the Clare deficit was back to two scores (2-9) to (0-13) with six minutes of normal time plus four minutes injury time to play on the clock. Shannon man Aaron Cunningham had Clare supporters on their feet in a tension filled final quarter with an excellent score as the minimum now kept Clare from at least a replay.
David McInerney, who in my view should have been thrown into the fray a lot earlier for a subdued Niall Arthur came on in the 59th minute. Clare were now camped in the Kilkenny half of the pitch. Like all teams chasing the equaliser panic shooting and lack of composure go hand in hand and these evil twins visited Clare with David O Halloran and Daire Keane hitting wides when possession and scores were at a premium. Kilkenny were leaving the game or at least a replay on a plate for the banner side. One final break against the run of play by Kilkenny fittingly symbolised the whole game. From the minimum of possession in the 63rd minute the Cats scored the final effort through the industry of Michael Brennan as Clare slumped a beaten team on the Croke Park canvas seconds later a beaten and broken side.
The champions who hung in when it looked as if the hottest of favourites were in danger of being knocked out and many of whom had suffered defeat at the hands of Galway in 2009 had displays of quality from Ger Alyward, Michael Brennan, Padraig Walsh, Kevin Kelly who was named man of the match, Willie Phelan, Pat O Carroll, Owen McGrath and Cillian Buckley. Over the course of the championship the banner side had a goal drought and managed only three goals and this hampered their scoring potential. Clare who like the under 21s of the last three seasons have given supporters some trickle of comfort for the decade ahead had my man of the hour in Seadna Morey. He was ably assisted by Stephen O Halloran, Paudge Collins, David O Halloran, Enda Boyce, and Paul Flanagan who was under incessant pressure at key times. The loss due to illness of Cathal O Connell lessened the scoring options from the bench.
KILKENNY: Dylan Walsh, Jason Corcoran, Willie Phelan, Brian Kennedy, Pat O Carroll, Luke Harney, Owen McGrath (0-2), Kevin Kelly (0-2), Ollie Walsh, John Power (0-1), Padraig Walsh (0-1), Cillian Buckley (Capt) (0-1), Michael Brennan (1-2), Ger Aylward (0-1), 15.Thomas O’Hanrahan. Subs: Paul Buggy (1-0) for O Hanrahan, Paul Holden for O Walsh,
CLARE: Ronan Taaffe, Haulie Vaughan, Paul Flanagan (Capt), Seadna Morey, Enda Boyce (0-1), Kevin Lynch, Stephen O Halloran, Tony Kelly (0-2, Colm Galvin, Cathal Malone, Paudge Collins (0-2), Jamie Shanahan, David O Halloran (0-5), Niall Arthur (0-2), Daire Keane (0-1). Subs: David McInerney for Arthur, Alan Mulready for Vaughan (inj), Aaron Cunningham (0-1) for Malone.
REFEREE: Anthony Stapleton (Laois).