*Philip Talty was in fine form for Éire Óg. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

ÉIRE ÓG’s defence of their title as Clare SFC champions is underway with the holders of the Jack Daly seeing off Clondegad in impressive fashion on Saturday evening. 

Éire Óg 1-15
Clondegad 0-07
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Paul Madden’s charges dominated matters from the off and kept their control until the final whistle to record a fully merited eleven point win at the hands of a disappointing Clondegad who of course were hindered by the absence of the Brennan brothers, Cillian and Shane.

In their absence, Gary Brennan as he has done on countless occasions led the charge for the 2017 finalists and for large spells it looked as if he would be the only Clondegad player to register on the scoreboard.

For their first championship test of the year, Éire Óg passed with flying colours and were boosted by the return of ex Clare defender to the club colours plus the addition of ex Westmeath midfielder Gavin Murray and the first appearance at senior level of former Limerick FC winger Colm Walsh O’Loghlen who was introduced in the final quarter.

Their strong foundation continued to be the attacking platform provided by their half-back ling with Ciaran Russell particularly and Éinne O’Connor causing problems on either flank.

Éinne O’Connor gets away from Ryan Jennings. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

A Mark McInerney double plus singles from Dean Ryan and Philip Talty helped Éire Óg into a four point lead before Clondegad opened their account on fourteen minutes via Gary Brennan. He split the posts again from a free before Mark McInerney (x2) and Talty kicked scores to leave it 0-07 0-02 at half time.

Brennan was first to score on the restart before Éinne O’Connor and Talty replied, a superb Darren O’Neill through ball putting the corner forward in a great spot. Brennan again answered back with a free before a typical Manus Doherty run from one end of the field to the next ended off with Gavin Cooney’s first score of the evening on thirty eight minutes.

Ryan Jennings had a chance to grab a goal for Clondegad but Niall McMahon made an excellent block to avert the danger. Substitute Thomas Galvin also had a chance for a green flag for the Ballynacally club but again Éire Óg held firm and responded by composing a well-worked team move involving over half a dozen players that finished with Philip Talty nabbing home for the only goal of the encounter.

Morgan Garry opened his account with fifty two minutes on the clock but Éire Óg closed out the game as they started with three points in succession, two from Talty and one from Walsh O’Loghlen to seal an eleven point win.

Bringing an end to the opening round of games in the Clare SFC, Éire Óg reminded all other clubs in the hunt for the Jack Daly that they are the team to beat and that they will take some stopping. Worrying for all other clubs is that the Ennis side appear to be getting stronger, they were shy the services of the injured David McNamara and will be for the campaign, they didn’t have Clare corner back Ronan Lanigan, ex Clare defender Conall Ó hÁiniféin is still out of action yet with the aforementioned additions the Townies are just bursting at the seams in terms of quality personnel to enter the fold.

Morgan Garry rises highest to claim the ball. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

In truth it was their first proper outing with Paul Madden and his management only getting to see close to a full hand with the league effectively a breeding ground for trialling new players given the abundance of men they are short due to county commitments. Even after the commanding win, they’ll know there’s a lot they can improve on such as their concession of scoreable frees with a needless foul on Gary Brennan seeing him exit the arena with a nose injury late on.

Next up for the Ennis club is a round two tie with St Joseph’s Miltown and here they will get a stiffer test but one that is not likely to dent their momentum. Philip Talty who had his biggest scoring contribution in senior championship, the outstanding Ciaran Russell, Ikem Ugwueru and Niall McMahon were the standout performers for the Townies.

For Clondegad it was an exercise in firefighting as the blazes spread across the field which they were simply unable to put out because there was so many dangerman whereas for them their threats were too few. They could not deal with Éire Óg’s attacking movement and conceded 1-11 from play and only adding 0-03 from play themselves. Gary Brennan was their best player while Fiachra Kirby impressed with James Murphy, Morgan Garry and Brian Murphy doing alright.

Scorers Éire Óg: P Talty (1-06 1f), M McInerney (0-04 2f), G Cooney (0-02 1f), D Ryan (0-01), E O’Connor (0-01), C Walsh O’Loghlen (0-01).

Scorers Clondegad: G Brennan (0-05 4f), R Jennings (0-01), M Garry (0-01).

Éire Óg:
1: Shane Daniels

4: Jarlath Collins
3: Aaron Fitzgerald
2: Manus Doherty

7: Ciaran Russell
6: Niall McMahon
5: Éinne O’Connor

8: Darren O’Neill
9: Gavin Murray

12: Dean Ryan
11: Ikem Ugwueru
10: Oran Cahill

15: Mark McInerney
14: Gavin Cooney
13: Philip Talty

Subs:
17: Darren O’Brien for McInerney (HT)
19: Gearoid Collins for J Collins (52)
18: Colm Walsh O’Loghlen for Cooney (52)
21: Eoin Guilfoyle for Fitzgerald (55)
20: Dean D’Auria for Ryan (56)

Clondegad:
1: Patrick Coffey

2: Brian Casey
4: Niall Lynch
3: Conor Gavin

5: Brian Murphy
6: Peter Casey
7: Evan Flynn

8: Morgan Garry
9: James Murphy

10: Ryan Jennnigs
11: Barry Toner
12: Cillian Gavin

13: Paudge McMahon
14: Gary Brennan
15: Fiachra Kirby

Subs:
24: Thomas Gavin for Cillian Gavin (HT)
19: Eoghan Gavin for McMahon (47)
21: Joe Neylon for Brennan (57) (inj)
25: Sean O’Leary for Garry (60)

Referee: Niall Quinn (St Joseph’s Miltown)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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