*Sixmilebridge’s Seadna Morey. Photograph: Veronica McMahon
Four of the eight quarter-finalists in the Clare SHC are known following this weekend’s action.
Sixmilebridge, Crusheen, Clonlara and Inagh/Kilnamona have booked their place in the last eight having recorded their second win of the 2019 championship. Clarecastle, O’Callaghans Mills, Tulla and Whitegate now find themselves fighting to retain their senior status and will contest the relegation semi-finals.
Ballyea, Éire Óg, Feakle, Cratloe, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Wolfe Tones, Kilmaley and Clooney/Quin will compete in Round Three where the victors will advance to the quarter-finals. Repeat pairings cannot take place.
First half goals proved crucial for Clonlara who booked their place in the last eight with a 3-16 1-16 win over Éire Óg. All three green flags were scored by Dave Cuddy’s side in the opening half as they turned their season around having contested the relegation semi-finals in 2018. The South East Clare side have struggled to hit their heights but if they find form curbing the influence of their several talented players will be a very difficult task.
Crusheen kept Feakle to a single point in the second half as they recorded a comprehensive 2-20 1-14 winning margin. Cian Dillon at centre back was a solid anchor for the Blood and Bandages for whom Conor O’Donnell did the bulk of the scoring with their goals coming courtesy of Breffni Horner and Darragh O’Doherty. After bossing Newmarket-on-Fergus in the opening round, this display was a slump from Feakle, they held a four point advantage over Crusheen in the first half but combusted in the second half when playing against the wind.
Ten points separated Sixmilebridge and Ballyea as it finished 2-21 0-17. It was a performance that certainly earmarked The Bridge as favourites to win the Canon Hamilton. Playing to a plan but more importantly as a team, the Davy Fitzgerald coached outfit are going to take stopping. Both goals were well-worked moves, Conor Deasy found Pa Mulready with a cross-field pass, the wing back having run half the field while Alex Morey fielded in the air before offloading to the clinical Brian Corry for their second goal. Ballyea like Clondegad the previous week appeared far from their best and some bit lacklustre but no one will want to draw the county champions in the third round. Of their seventeen point tally, Tony Kelly and Niall Deasy contributed fifteen points.
Questions have been asked of Inagh/Kilnamona since suffering a drubbing to Kilmaley in the Clare Cup Final but they again answered their critics when defeating Cratloe 1-17 1-13. Although Rian Considine raided for goal inside the first sixty seconds, Inamona refused to panic and responded with six points in succession. Across their attack, Fergal Hegarty’s side have players capable of scoring from a wide range of angles while David Fitzgerald added two long range points from wing-back. The absence of both Diarmuid Ryan and Sean Collins was felt by Cratloe who will still be fancied of making the last eight.
In the losers section, Newmarket-on-Fergus bounced back with a 1-17 1-12 win against a poor O’Callaghans Mills side., Stephen Kelly was man of the match for the Blues. Kilmaley signalled their intentions 3-18 0-06 victory over Whitegate, the goals coming in the first half via Mikey O’Neill, Paraic McNamara and Cathal Darcy. Wolfe Tones kept their hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive edging past Tulla 1-14 0-14, substitute Evan O’Gorman scored what would prove to be the all-important goal. Clooney/Quin had it easy when accounting for Clarecastle 1-25 0-12, Peter Duggan with fifteen points scored more than the entire Magpies team.
Now more than ever the performance of referees at local and national level is facing more scrutiny, Shannon’s Chris Maguire was handed his highest profile game at club level in Clare taking charge of the meeting of Sixmilebridge and Ballyea, another young referee Niall Malone was the man in the middle for Newmarket-on-Fergus versus O’Callaghans Mills. Both did well which is timely considering the performance of some referees has left a lot to be desired.
On Monday the draw will be made for round three.