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*Alan O’Neill finished with 1-02 despite starting at wing-back. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

ST JOSEPH’S DOORA/BAREFIELD are back in the final of the intermediate hurling championship for the second year in a row after withstanding a fierce challenge from Corofin on Sunday evening.

St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield 3-16
Corofin 2-15
AET
Venue: Clarecastle

In fading daylight on Sunday evening, St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield breathed a sigh of relief to have kept their aspirations of returning to the senior ranks alive. It came just over 24 hours after their Junior A hurlers dramatically defeated Éire Óg to win promotion to intermediate and it was on the same day that their minor hurlers lost out in extra time to Clooney/Quin in the A championship final.

Indeed it was extra time that determined The Parish progressed and Corofin exited. The match itself was delayed by thirty five minutes due to referee Johnny Healy acting as fourth official for the meeting of Éire Óg and Sixmilebridge in the Clare SHC which also went to extra time in Cusack Park, a lull which irritated both sets of panels, managements and supporters.

At the final whistle, there was also grievances from either sideline. Doora/Barefield, possibly motivated by their high injury count, wished to see a replay rather than extra time. Agreement appeared to have been reached between both managers, Michael Guilfoyle and Michael O’Dell but Healy having consulted with Clare GAA Chairman Kieran Keating instructed that extra time was to take place. O’Dell had seemingly been overruled by his Corofin charges anyway as they were intent to finish on the day.

Cathal Ruane who spent the summer in the United States on a J1 proved to be the man to finally decide the outcome. His goal with eighty minutes of hurling played immediately cancelled out a Jamie Malone green flag in the previous attack which had put penalties as a real possibility but Ruane’s strike followed by a David Conroy free sent Doora/Barefield on their way.

Enjoying the better of the starts, The Parish raced into a 0-04 0-00 advantage inside the first ten minutes. Corofin opened their account on eleven minutes via Gearoid Kelly, he pointed two placed balls and wing-back Damien O’Loughlin also got in on the act to awaken their cause. Points from Jack Hannan and Conroy sandwiched between a Diarmuid Cahill effort left it 0-08 0-05 in Doora/Barefield’s favour at the interval.

Conor Tierney put his pace to good effect when fetching a Tom Hannan delivery and wheeling past his marker before slotting the sliotar low into Darren Malone’s net to carve out a five point deficit on thirty seven minutes.

An impressive response from Corofin followed as they hit 1-02 without reply to get on level terms for the first time. The white flags came courtesy of Diarmuid Cahill while a brilliant Kevin Keane run was finished by a bullet from Jamie Malone on forty one minutes.

Freetakers Conroy and Kelly traded efforts before Corofin took the lead for the first time on fifty one minutes when Kelly converted a free won by Malone.

When Darren Malone got down low to save Alan O’Neill penalty, the signs were pointing to a Corofin win but the hungry Doora/Barefield had no intent on reading them. Instead they nudged ahead through Conroy and O’Neill before Mikey Kelly stepped up to draw matters on sixty five minutes and sending the tie to extra time.

O’Neill gave The Parish a dream start here when he goaled inside the opening two minutes. Two missed frees plus an inability to finish a goalmouth scramble cost Corofin in this spell while Damien Ryan and Matthew Power traded efforts to leave last year’s beaten finalists 2-14 1-14 in front at half-time in extra time.

Conroy and Kevin Keane swapped scores on the restart, two goal chances went abegging for Corofin before Malone struck for his second, only for Ruane to immediately reply and send the side coached by former Clare hurler Oisin O’Brien back into the county final.

In such a tight contest, both sides will obviously have felt they had an abundance of opportunities to win the game and that is certainly true. Doora/Barefield overall were the more clinical and despite the setbacks of losing Jarlath Colleran, Cian Barron, Conor Tierney, Brian Clancy and Eoin Hanrahan they still found a way to win and the manner of their victory is the sort of one that could be the making of this group of players. For Michael Guilfoyle’s side, Jack Hannan, Adam Mungovan, Brian Clancy, Conor Tierney, Tom Hannan, Cathal Ruane and Alan O’Neill stood out.

Slow starts in both the first half of normal and extra time certainly hindered Corofin. The absence of Killian O’Connor and Conor Leen through injury didn’t aid their cause while they would have benefitted from moving Gearoid Cahill from the edge of the square towards the middle third on occasions when possession was in scarce supply. An ability to feed their danger men more frequently could have swung the tie in their favour. Jamie Malone, Fionn Clancy, Damien O’Loughlin and Diarmuid Cahill impressed for the North Clare outfit who will now switch attention to their involvement in the Clare SFC semi-finals.

Scorers St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield: D Conroy (0-066 4f 2’65), C Ruane (1-02), C Tierney (1-02), A O’Neill (1-02 1f), J Hannan (0-02), E Hanrahan (0-01), M Power (0-01)

Scorers Corofin: G Kelly (0-07 6f), J Malone (2-00), D Cahill (0-04), D O’Loughlin (0-01), M Kelly (0-01), D Ryan (0-01 1f), K Keane (0-01).

St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield:
1: Paul Madden

4: Brian Clancy
3: Jarlath Colleran
6: Darragh McMahon

7: Adam Mungovan
2: Fionn Kelleher
5: Alan O’Neill

10: Jack Hannan
8: Brian Guilfoyle

20: Cathal Ruane
11: David Conroy
12: Tom Hannan

13: Eoghan Thynne
14: Eoin Hanrahan
15: Cian Barron

Subs:
27: Conor Tierney for Hanrahan (12) (inj)
21: Dara Nagle for Colleran (26) (inj)
28: Darragh O’Shea for Thynne (48)
9: Donal O’Halloran for Tierney (54) (inj)
19: Matthew Power for Ruane (63)
23: Cian Lahiffe for Guilfoyle (64)
Cathal Ruane for Barron (74) (inj)
18: Tomas Hehir for Clancy (78) (inj)

Corofin:
1: Darren Malone

17: Shay Malone
3: Cillian McGroary
2: Marc O’Loughlin

5: Damien O’Loughlin
6: Fionn Clancy
7: Damien Ryan

20: Jamie Malone
11: Gearoid Kelly

12: Kevin Heagney
14: Diarmuid Cahill
10: Mikey Kelly

13: Shane O’Brien
9: Gearoid Cahill
15: Kevin Keane

Subs:
8: Eoin Daveron for O’Brien (52)
28: Sean O’Brien for Heagney (59)
Kevin Heagney for Davoren (64)
Shane O’Brien for G Kelly (74).

Referee: Johnny Healy (Smith O’Briens)

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