*Jamie Malone. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Weather conditions were anything but enticing but all bar three fixtures in Division 1, 2, 3 and 5 went ahead as the race for football league honours in Clare for 2020 got underway.
Ennistymon’s games in Divisions 1 and 3 against Éire Óg and St. Senan’s Kilkee respectively and Moy’s fixture with Kilrush in Division 5 were cancelled due to the coronavirus. Inter county senior panellists were not available to their clubs for this round with the exception of some from the extended panel
Kilmurry Ibrickane conceded home advantage and made the short journey to Hennessy Park to take on their neighbours St Josephs Miltown, the competition title holders. The visitors played with the aid of the breeze in the opening half and had built up a seven point lead by half time.
Veteran Enda Coughlan was in sparkling form and emerged as the team’s top scorer. Lining out at midfield he contributed 1-4 of his team’s 1-7 tally in their seven point win (1-7 to 0-3) over the title holders who were having their first outing under newly appointed manager, Ned English from Cork. Both sides finished with thirteen men each.
Doonbeg and Kildysart clashed in the Garry Cup final (Division 2) last year when the Magpies emerged with the honours. They clashed again in Saturday’s first round Cusack cup tie and this time Kildysart emerged with the bragging rights. The winners had the better of the first half exchanges and they led by 1-6 to 0-1 at the interval, the goal coming from Neil O’Connor following a Stephen Sheehan delivery.
The home side bounced back strongly in the second half helped by a brace of goals from Colm Dillon to bring them to within a point of the visitors. However, the sending off of Paraic Aherne halted the revival and Kildysart with the help of a disputed goal from Oisin Coyle sealed the points on a 2-8 to 2-5 scoreline.
In a hard fought game at Ballynacally, last year’s finalists Clondegad got the better of St. Breckans and secured a 1-10 to 0-8 win.The home side with Gary Brennan at centre forward were 0-6 to 0-4 in front at half time and struck for a crucial goal from Eoin Glynn in the second half.
Corofin received a massive boost ahead of their opening game in Division 2 with news that Jamie Malone had returned from his travels and would be available for their trip to Cooraclare. Goals from Killian Neylon, Gearoid Kelly and Fionn Clancy helped the North Clare side to a merited win (3-7 to 0-8) on the day.
Centre back Fergal Kenny scored the game’s only goal as Shannon Gaels accounted for St Josephs Doora/Barefield at Labasheeda. The sides were level at 1-1 to 0-4 at half time after the home side had played against the wind. The final score was 1-4 to 0-5
O’Currys travelled to Kilmihil for their opening tie in the competition and despite not having a management team in place, they managed a two point win over the home side on a 0-8 to 0-6 scoreline.
A Sean Hayes goal gave Lissycasey a lead they would hold throughout in their game with Kilrush Shamrocks at the latter’s venue. It was 1-0 to 0-2 at the interval and the visitors went on to dominate the second half when they had further goals from Matt O’Shea and Shane Griffin on their way to a 3-4 to 0-2 victory.
Three games were played in Division 3 and in each case a point was the winning margin. Wolfe Tones travelled to Killimer and scored a 1-9 to 2-5 victory. Kilfenora enjoyed home advantage against Naomh Eoin and emerged with a 3-8 to 4-4 win while Coolmeen were 0-10 to 0-9 winners over Cratloe in a tie played at Coolmeen on Sunday.
Meelick, winners of division 6 last year, started the season with a comfortable 2-13 to 3-2 win over Cratloe who conceded home advantage and travelled to their neighbour’s venue for this one.
Goals from Leroy Crowe, Louis Wragg and Derek Doohan helped Lissycasey to a 3-7 to 0-7 win over Cooraclare at Cooraclare on Sunday.
Doonbeg and Kildysart played a draw on Sunday evening when the final score was 1-11 for Doonbeg to 3-5 but the big talking point from this one was the issuing of five red cards, three to Doonbeg, following an incident in the second half.