*Barry Toner applying the pressure. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clondegad became only the fourth side to maintain their perfect start to the senior championship after edging out Doonbeg by the minimum in Cusack Park on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Ennistymon’s surprise victory over Kilmurry Ibrickane blew the group wide open on Saturday but Clondegad remained much more steadfast in what was an unspectacular yet gritty triumph.
An unconventional goal after only five minutes proved the ultimate difference throughout as Barry Toner’s teasing delivery from 40 metres, aimed for Gary Brennan, managed to end up in the back of the net. So while the Magpies did respond admirably with the next four points to level the tie by the 23rd minute, it seemed to expend a lot of energy just to regain parity.
Clondegad wouldn’t be caught again once talisman Gary Brennan inched his side in front before the break before the 2017 finalists tacked on four of the first five points of the new half through Brennan, Morgan Garry, Barry Toner and substitute Eoghan Donnellan to soar four clear by the two-thirds mark at 1-6 to 0-5.
True to form, Doonbeg refused to yield and managed to drag themselves back into the contest, mainly through David Tubridy’s frees. However, they simply couldn’t pull level as a number of late opportunities went wayward to hand a relived Clondegad a satisfactory win.
Still to confirm their place in the quarter-finals, Clondegad now face Kilmurry Ibrickane in a repeat of the 2017 final in a fortnight’s time while Doonbeg face fellow Magpies Ennistymon in another winner-takes-all encounter.
Scorers for Clondegad: Barry Toner (1-1); Gary Brennan (2f), Eoghan Donnellan (0-2 each); Podge McMahon, Morgan Garry (0-1 each)
Scorers for Doonbeg: David Tubridy (0-3f); Darragh Burns (0-2, 1m); Eoin Killeen, Mikie Tubridy, Kevin McInerney, Jason Linnane (0-1 each)
1: Declan O’Loughlin
2: Brian Casey
3: Brian Murphy
4: Niall Lynch
7: Gearoid O’Connell
6: Peter Casey
5: Conor Gavin
9: Brandon O’Connell
11: Gary Brennan
10: Morgan Garry
8: James Murphy
15: Barry Toner
23: Podge McMahon
14: Shane Brennan
13: Ryan Jennings
17: Cillian Brennan for J. Murphy (22)
18: Eoghan Donnellan for S. Brennan (36)
28: Sean O’Leary for McMahon (48)
12: Eoghan Gavin for Jennings (59)
1: Eamon Tubridy
2: Conor O’Mahoney
22: Tadhg Lillis
4: Jason Linnane
5: Paraic Aherne
6: Joe Blake
7: Cian O’Mahiney
8: Kevin McInerney
9: Eoin Conway
10: Cathal Killeen
11: David Tubridy
12: Mikie Tubridy
15: Eoin Killeen
14: Kevin Pender
13: Darragh Burns
20: Brian Behan for M.Tubridy (42)
25: Luke Conway for Pender (42)
3: James Killeen for Conway (46)
18: Brian Egan for McInerney (57)
Referee: Barry Kelly (St Joseph’s Miltown)