*Corofin/Ruan celebrate in Cusack Park. Photograph: Willie O’Reilly
A first ever Clare Minor A hurling championship is the reward for an exceptional Corofin/Ruan team that overwhelmed Clarecastle on Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Cusack Park
Ruan have previously won the top Clare minor hurling prize in 1938 and 1953 but Sunday’s success is the first time the joined up forces of Corofin and Ruan have tasted championship glory at this grade.
Unbeaten going into the decider, Clarecastle were left reeling as the North Clare side blitzed them in the opening half where they managed to get a single score. With leaders all over the pitch, the amalgamation gained superiority early on and were able to pick off points through different angles and multiple scorers.
Their return of eleven consecutive points in twenty four minutes highlighted their first half dominance. Though corner back with the county minors, Cillian McGroary showed he was well able to split the posts with Kevin Keane, Shane Punch, Patrick O’Halloran and Diarmuid Cahill also contributing with white flags.
Not alone were the Magpies unable to put something on the board but putting attacking moves together was proving to be a struggle. They eventually opened their account on twenty six minutes through a Oisin Casey free. Luckily for them, Cian Broderick was on hand to deny Shane O’Brien with a fine save before the break. Nonetheless the twelve point gap was still a mountain they would be incapable of climbing.
Inevitably as with most Clarecastle teams, a fightback from John Casey’s charges was imminent and they came with more vigour on the resumption. Substitute Niall Brigdale struck for goal within four minutes of the restart.
Ultimately the damage was done in the opening period and Corofin/Ruan though not as free-scoring as they had been continued to do damage largely through the outstanding Diarmuid Cahill who himself raided for goal on thirty eight minutes.
Though they have plenty of experience on the big day, Clarecastle on this particular outing never got going against formidable opponents. Having overcome Sixmilebridge and Inagh/Kilnamona in the knockout stages plus their four group wins the Magpies have proven ability. The challenge for the club is to continue the improvement of these players into adult grades.
Twenty two scores in sixty minutes is a fantastic return for a minor side and testament to the ongoing work in both the Corofin and Ruan clubs. Of critical importance for both is the appointments for intermediate management teams for 2020, with a large pool of talented players about to make the step-up, the way in which they are dealt with will be instrumental to determining if they remain in the intermediate grade.
Captain Robin Mounsey though he played at centre forward in earlier rounds was superb at centre back, he cleaned up any danger and was astute with every delivery. Diarmuid Cahill with 1-08 from play gave an excellent display. Kevin Keane, Mark O’Loughlin and Conor Leen also impressed for the amalgamation.
Scorers Corofin/Ruan: D Cahill (1-08), S Punch (0-05 5f), C McGroary (0-03), K Keane (0-02), P O’Halloran (0-01), J McDonagh (0-01), A Brohan (0-01).
Scorers Clarecastle: O Casey (1-06 1-05f), N Brigdale (1-00), B Healy (0-01), J Doherty (0-01)
Corofin/Ruan: Cian O’Donoghue; Gearoid Hanrahan, Conor Leen, Mark O’Loughlin; Eoin Fitzgerald, Robin Mounsey, Jack Lyons; Killian O’Connor, Patrick O’Halloran; Shane Punch, Diarmaid Cahill, Cillian McGroary; Ashley Brohan, Kevin Keane, Shane O’Brien.
Subs: Jack McDonagh for O’Brien (HT), Ryan Power for O’Halloran (52), Declan Brennan for Lyons (60), Joshua Ryan for McGroary (60), Michael Barrow for O’Connor (63).
Clarecastle: Cian Broderick; Alec Cassley, Cillian Casey, Sam Browne; David Tuohy, Cian Galvin, Conor Halpin; Fergus Garvey, Harry Ward; Oisin Casey, Darragh Healy, Dylan Brown; James Doherty, Brandon Healy, Josh Brack.
Subs: Niall Brigdale for Garvey (28), Barry Morrissey for Ward (HT), Eoin Dinan for Cassley (45), Dylan Coughlan Sheridan for B Healy (61).
Referee: Rory McGann (Newmarket-on-Fergus)