*John Conlon takes on Ciaran Russell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
An exceedingly tense concluding last eight tie was eventually won by Clonlara who clung on to overcome last year’s finalists and seal a first senior hurling semi-final in six seasons.
Éire Óg 0-14
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Colm O’Meara’s 13th minute goal was clearly the most decisive score of the hour as he collected a pass from captain Jathan McMahon to race through and bat to the net. It would be the key divider for the remainder as Clonlara never relinquished their lead despite being tested to their optimum by a resilient Éire Óg side that largely depended on David Reidy’s frees to maintain their challenge throughout.
Indeed, with the county senior raiding for eleven placed balls, the Townies only managed to raid for three points from play, with no player scoring more than once.
That was surpassed by John Conlon’s superb five point haul which was inspirational for a Clonlara side that had come off the back of three successive Senior B crowns.
Their A credentials have certainly been earned as their character and determination saw them remain composed despite the precarious nature of their lead.
Dylan McMahon was excellent as cover in front of the equally impressive Ger Powell who curbed Shane O’Donnell as much as humanly possible. Aidan Moriarty was also outstanding along with Ian Galvin, Colm O’Meara and the aforementioned ageless Conlon.
Éire Óg never reached the heights of previous years but in a wide open championship, this will ultimately be viewed as another missed opportunity for the Ennis side who following last year’s agonising county final finish, arguably craved silverware more than ever before.
For all their experience though, it was Clonlara that were sharper and more ravenous on the breaks for the large chunk of this contest, with Éire Óg feeding off the scraps of Reidy’s unerring frees in the hope of catching fire at some stage.
It didn’t happen though, with their best chance falling to Shane O’Donnell in the 57th minute to make space and shoot on goal, only to jut clear the crossbar at 1-12 to 0-13.
In response to O’Meara’s goal at the end of the opening quarter at 1-5 to 0-3, Éire Óg also carved out two goalscoring chances late in the first half but Seimi Gully was equal to Dara Walsh’s ambitious attempt while Gavin Cooney also had a shot blocked.
Instead three Reidy placed balls lessened the half-time damage to two at 1-6 to 0-7, with the wind to come for Clonlara.
Six times the sides traded points on the resumption mainly through the unmarkable Conlon from play and Reidy from frees. Thanks to eleven wides in total, Clonlara were unable to put clear daylight between the sides until substitute Cian Moriarty and Ian Galvin finally broke that blow-for-blow trend approaching the hour at 1-14 to 0-13.
A David Reidy injury-time free cut the deficit to three with four minutes of additional time remaining but a flurry of late dropped in frees and ’65 ultimately yielded nothing as David Fitzgerald burst out with the final passage of play to relive the danger and ensure a completely new semi-final line-up for Monday night’s draw.
Scorers for Clonlara: Micheál O’Loughlin 0-6 (4f), John Conlon 0-5, Colm O’Meara 1-0, Ian Galvin 0-2, Cian Moriarty 0-1
Scorers for Éire Óg: David Reidy 0-12 (10f, 1’65), Dara Walsh 0-1, Shane O’Donnell 0-1
1: Seimi Gully
2: Micheál Clancy
3; Ger Powell
4: Logan Ryan
7: Paraic O’Loughlin
6: Dylan McMahon
5: David Fitzgerald
9: Jathan McMahon
10: Aidan Moriarty
12: Colm Galvin
11: John Conlon
8: Colm O’Meara
18: Micheál O’Loughlin
14: Ian Galvin
13: Diarmuid Stritch
15: Cian Moriarty for Stritch (52)
1: Philly Walsh
4: Fionan Treacy
3: Aaron Fitzgerald
2: Nially McMahon
7: Liam Corry
6: Ciaran Russell
5: Oran Cahill
8: Jarlath Collins
9: Liam Kavanagh
12: Gavin Cooney
11: David Reidy
10: Mikey Moloney
17: Dara Walsh
14: Shane O’Donnell
15: Darren O’Brien
21: Cian O’Dea for Kavanagh (HT)
13: Danny Russell for Moloney (HT)
9: Kavanagh for Cahill (56, inj)
Referee: Fergal O’Brien (Broadford)