*Dara Nagle had an important goal-line clearance in the closing stages. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

ST JOSEPH’S DOORA/BAREFIELD TOOK one step towards making the knockout stages of the Clare senior football championship when overcoming last year’s beaten semi-finalists Corofin.

St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield 1-11
Corofin 0-12
Venue: Wolfe Tones GAA Grounds, Shannon

In a repeat of the 2020 Clare intermediate football final, the spoils again went the way of St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield who defeated Corofin by two points on this occasion rather than the five point winning margin three years ago.

While St Joseph’s have had the upperhand in their last two championship clashes, Corofin’s run to the semi-finals of the senior championship in 2022 saw them enter this tie as slight favourites.

Shooting efficiency or lack of from Corofin helped swing the odds in favour of their Mid-Clare opponents. Although Corofin’s wide tally amounted to seven over the hour, they would waste several opportunities which dropped short or bounced off the upright during the contest while their second half return of five points comprised of three placed balls and two from play.

On the flipside, when Doora/Barefield had the breeze at their backs they kicked some fine scores, examples include efforts from Jack Hannan, Nicki Hardiman, Cian McDonough and Eoghan Thynne.

Both sides shared an abundance of different scorers, a total of nine players registered on the scoresheet for Doora/Barefield with seven players hitting the mark for the North Clare outfit.

Loyalties of the Crusheen football faithful were split for this tie with Cilléin Mullins lining out at full-back while Ross Hayes was an unused substitute whereas Oisin O’Donnell was togging out against his senior hurling teammates as part of the St Joseph’s side. Mullins had a fine game in defence but it was the contribution of O’Donnell which sent Donagh Vaughan’s men on their way to an opening round win.

With fifty minutes on the clock, the 2020 Harty Cup winner was the one to finish off a long sequence of play with a well-taken finish to the back of the net. Over half a dozen players were involved in the build-up but the contributions of Jack Hannan and David Conroy saw them make the most inroads.

Hannan broke the line and occupied three Corofin men before somehow managing to offload the ball to Conroy while on the ground, here the Clare senior hurling panellist who was introduced as a second half substitute took a quick step forward and showed fast hands to distribute to O’Donnell who did well to find space to connect with the ball, let alone demonstrate a superb finish which left Luke Neylon with no chance.

It left Corofin shellshocked and put Doora/Barefield into a 1-10 0-11 advantage, the next attack saw James Curran fouled with Tom Curran tapping over the free and now leading by three points the task for The Parish was to see out the game, easier said than done when one considers some of the quality of players at the disposal of the 2021 intermediate winners.

They were pushed to the pins of their collars but Tom O’Brien produced an excellent save to stop a certain Gearoid Cahill goal on twenty seven minutes which would have levelled matters. Dara Nagle then did exceptionally well to use his feet to clear the ball from the line in a subsequent rebound. Corofin continued to press in search of a major but they had to settle for the final point of the contest, a point from Michael Cahill which was insufficient in overturning the deficit.

Indeed Corofin won the toss and elected to play against the breeze in the opening half. They retreated to the dressing room at the interval and were two points in arrears, a margin which looked like it might cost Doora/Barefield, yet it didn’t.

Despite the elements favouring Donagh Vaughan’s side, the teams were level on four occasions in the opening half. A goal chance fell to Tom McDonald on twenty eight minutes but he opted to instead take a point, it was followed by an Eoghan Thynne effort and they now had their biggest lead of the game, a three point difference with thirty minutes on the clock, it was reduced by one prior to the break when Gearoid Cahill converted a free.

Clearly from the restart, the message from the Corofin camp was to secure the first score and they did, a free from Killian O’Connor, it was the third free they won within the first sixty seconds of the second half and when Gearoid Cahill levelled matters on thirty five minutes the advantage was firmly with Corofin.

Doora/Barefield had other ideas, an important forty five second swing saw Oisin O’Donnell nudge them back in front with a point while at the other end, Tom O’Brien managed to push away a Gearoid Kelly palm on goal allowing McGroary the chance to slot a 45, which he did, but when they could have conceded a goal they were glad to cough up a white flag.

Jamie Malone kicked Corofin ahead, pointing off his left boot on forty seven minutes but they would go the next seventeen minutes without a score until Michael Cahill had the final score of the contest. In the interval, Doora/Barefield struck for 1-01 to ensure it was they that join Kilmurry Ibrickane with points on the board following the opening round in Group 1.

On top of the decision making in front of goal, Corofin missed their liveliest forwards from last year’s run. Danger man Diarmuid Cahill remains sidelined with an injury while Robin Mounsey will be unavailable to the footballers until Ruan’s clash with Corofin in the Clare IHC takes place, the duo bring a spark and an equally strong scoring threat to their inside line which was absent throughout the opening round in Shannon. Cilléin Mullins, Fionn Clancy, Gearoid Cahill, Damien O’Loughlin and Cillian Clancy stood out for Douglas Hurley’s side.

One win is likely to suffice in this group in advancing to the knockout stages for teams in Group 1 so the result is simply massive for The Parish. Although their transition from defence to attack is not rapid, it is something they can improve on and the lift from this win should put a spring in their step. Their young midfield pairing in James Curran and Tom McDonald has the potential to form a partnership to dominate at this grade in the years ahead while Conor O’Brien, Eoghan Thynne, Jack Hannan, Tom Curran and Oisin O’Donnell set the way for the winners.

Scorers St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield: O O’Donnell (1-01), T McDonald (0-02 1f), E Thynne (0-01), J Hannan (0-01), N Hardiman (0-01), C McDonough (0-01), D Nagle (0-01), J Curran (0-01), T Curran (0-01 1f).

Scorers Corofin: G Cahill (0-03 3f), K O’Connor (0-02 2f), C McGroary (0-02 1’45), J Malone (0-02 1M), C Rice (0-01), D O’Loughlin (0-01), M Cahill (0-01)

St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield:
1: Tom O’Brien

2: Sam Costelloe
3: Conor O’Brien
4: Conal Dorgan

20: Oisin O’Donnell
6: Darragh O’Shea
5: Jack Hannan

8: James Curran
9: Tom McDonald

11: Eoghan Thynne
15: Dara Nagle
10: Cian McDonough

17: Tom Curran
14: Joe Rafferty
13: Nicky Hardiman

Subs:
28: David Conroy for Hardiman (45)

Corofin:
1: Luke Neylon

2: Marc O’Loughlin
3: Cilléin Mullins
6: Damien O’Loughlin

10: Fionn Clancy
11: Gearoid Cahill
7: Shay Malone

9: Sean O’Brien
20: Colm Rice

12: Cian Doolin
8: Jamie Malone
5: Cillian McGroary

13: Killian O’Connor
14: Gearoid Kelly
15: Cillian Clancy

Subs:
22: Michael Cahill for S Malone (28)
17: Kevin Keane for Kelly (53)
25: Josh O’Brien for Doolin (53)

Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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