*Gavin Cooney finished the hour with 1-09. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A place in the quarter-finals is the reward for Éire Óg as they recorded a comprehensive twelve point win.
Éire Óg 2-15
Kilrush Shamrocks 1-06
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Anything other than a Éire Óg victory would have represented a major shock in what was the opening contest of the 2020 Clare SFC. Their abundance of options up front mixed with their greater experience and talent throughout really showed the difference between the sides.
It’s not all negative for Kilrush, 11 players made their senior championship debut for the roll of honour leaders. They matched their counterparts for the first thirty minutes but as the game worn, their challenge dissipated, proof of this being the fact it took them until the fifty fourth minute to register their opening score of the second. Such was the absence of scoring threats in the second half, that goalkeeper Stephen Ryan was brought out the field as the contest wore on.
However the spirit of the Shams’ opening half display will leave Aidan Daly with some hope. Experience is lacking from the roll of honour leaders but they were capable of putting it up to Éire Óg, the key issue being their challenge was not sustained.
Liam Madigan was the main tormentor for Kilrush in the opening half with 1-03 to his name, the former Clare minor scored three excellent points from play and dispatched a penalty to the net on twenty one minutes.
Gavin Cooney who finished the hour with 1-09 caused problems throughout. His threat up front along with the return of both Ciarán Russell and Darren O’Neill to their lineup will strengthen their challenge as the campaign progresses.
Madigan’s penalty put Kilrush in front for the second time in the game, it would prove to be the final occasion whereby they led as Éire Óg finished the half four unanswered points via Darren O’Neill, Aidan McGrath and two from Cooney to lead 0-08 1-04.
Paul Madden’s men hit 1-05 on the bounce inside the first nineteen minutes on the resumption. Corner forward Phillip Talty raided for goal on forty four minutes, Mark McInerney provided the assist following a turnover from Ikem Ugwueru.
As Ryan was pushed out the field, sub goalkeeper Neil Cullinan had no chance for his first test with Gavin Cooney bearing down on goal as he buried into the bottom left corner to wrap up the win and send the Townies into the quarter-finals.
Forty one year old Barry Ryan lined out between the posts for the Townies, the goalkeeper coach answered the call with regular netminder Nathan Murray being ruled out through injury. His presence alone is a lift for Éire Óg who had strong displays from Gavin Cooney, Conall Ó hÁiniféin, Ciarán Russell and Éinne O’Connor.
All is not lost for Kilrush, focus for them is now on the second round. The match practice alone from this outing will stand to them, however anything other than a sustained performance over the course of the game will hinder their chances. Callum Bond and Liam Madigan stood out for the West Clare men.
Scorers Éire Óg: Gavin Cooney (1-09 4f), Phillip Talty (1-00), Darren O’Neill (0-02 1f), Mark McInerney (0-02), Aidan McGrath (0-01), Conall Ó hÁiniféin (0-01).
Scorers Kilrush Shamrocks: Liam Madigan (1-03 1’Pen), Jason Griffin (0-01), Billy Clancy (0-01), Gearoid O’Brien (0-01).
16: Barry Ryan
2: Niall McMahon
3: Éinne O’Connor
5: Aidan McGrath
7: Conor O’Halloran
4: Cathal Darcy
12: Liam Corry
9: Darren O’Neill
8: Ciarán Russell
6: Conall Ó hÁiniféin
11: Ikem Ugwueru
10: Ronan Lanigan
15: Mark McInerney
14: Gavin Cooney
13: Phillip Talty
17: Tadhg Connellan for Lanigan (15) (Inj)
18: David McNamara for Corry (47)
19: Shane Daniels for Talty (50)
20: Mikey Moloney for Russell (54)
1: Stephen Ryan
2: Sean Purtill
3: Fiachra Crowley
4: Michael Shannon
10: Dean Neary
6: Callum Bond
7: Conor Bolton
9: Mark Shannon
14: Billy Clancy
5: Niall Brennan
8: Gearoid O’Brien
12: Keith Crowley
13: Ross Phelan
11: Jamie Griffin
15: Liam Madigan
19: Ray Glynn for Brennan (53)
16: Neil Cullinan for Phelan (58)
17: Filipe Rzymek for Griffin (62)
Referee: Fearghal Gray (Feakle)