*David Conroy excelled for the winners. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
CURRENT intermediate champions St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield have successfully retained their senior status in their first season back in the top tier and in the process relegated Wolfe Tones.
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield 2-16
Wolfe Tones 1-13
Venue: Fr Murphy Memorial Park, Newmarket-on-Fergus
Nine years after Wolfe Tones were relegated by St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield, the Parish downed the Shannon men and did so in comprehensive fashion, fully earning their six point victory.
First half goals from Cian Barron and Brian Guilfoyle dented Wolfe Tones’ already brittle confidence and despite playing with the aid of the elements the Shannon side trailed by seven points at the half-time whistle.
There was more fight from the Tones on the restart but their overall display on this occasion and throughout the championship was far from senior quality and so they can have no complaints to find themselves relegated. The absence of 2013 All-Ireland winner Aaron Cunningham who was overseas for this outing coupled with the emigration of Ben O’Gorman, Jack Cunningham and Dylan Frawley were also factors in their demise.
Indiscipline cost the Shannon side early on with the accurate David Conroy converting two frees in the opening three minutes. Billy Connors pointed from an acute angle to get them off the mark on four minutes before Cian O’Rourke equalised from a free.
Smart use of the ball from The Parish was evident from the get-go, Eoghan Thynne at wing forward demonstrating that there is still a place for ground hurling in the game with short wristy strikes to tee up attacks.
Cian Barron struck for the game’s first goal on eight minutes with Doora/Barefield looking threatening in preceding attacks. The corner-forward buried the sliotar to the net from close range to give them a 1-2 0-2 advantage.
Conroy and O’Rourke traded frees on two subsequent occasions before Brian Guilfoyle raised another green flag as Wolfe Tones’ defence were caught ball-watching from a high delivery. Two Conroy frees followed along with another O’Rourke placed ball to leave it 2-6 0-5 at half-time.
Cian O’Rourke was again relied on by the Tones to keep their scoreboard ticking, he was the first to register on the restart but Doora/Barefield responded through Alan O’Neill and Cian Lahiffe.
Scores were exchanged by O’Rourke and wing-back Eoghan McMahon as The Parish attempted to make better use of the strong breeze in Newmarket-on-Fergus.
Momentum began to swirl behind Conor Dolan’s side with O’Rourke and Aron Shanagher pointing while they were beginning to pick up on the breaks around the middle of the field. Conroy hit one back but Wolfe Tones came back with two in a row via Connors and O’Rourke reducing the deficit to five points.
Composure was provided for St Joseph’s in the guise of Darragh McMahon who pointed from long range on fifty two minutes.
A big score was needed from Wolfe Tones and it duly arrived with Darragh Lohan converting a 21m free to the back of the net, a minute later to narrow the gap to three points.
Lohan’s green flag meant the game was there for the taking for whichever side wanted it. By ensuring they hit the next two points through Barron and Conroy it was the men from Doora/Barefield who showed the greater desire in almost cancelling out the goal in just over sixty seconds.
Another chance from a 21m free was awarded to the Tones but this time Lohan’s shot was well stopped with Adam Mungovan managing to get the sliotar off the goal-line, through whatever means necessary.
With three of the final four scores, it was screams of joy from Doora/Barefield at the final whistle as their bid to stay in the senior grade proved successful.
Given that there is a strong conveyor belt of talent coming through the ranks in Gurteen, staying senior was vital for St Joseph’s to aid the development of their players and keeping their status by prevailing in a relegation final will also strengthen their character. David Conroy was excellent for the winners for whom Jack Hannan, Cian Barron, Darragh McMahon and Jarlath Colleran did well.
As Clare’s second largest town for a Shannon side to now be dining out in the intermediate grade is a poor reflection. Should their footballers managed by Johnny Bridges, fail to win promotion to the top tier, there will have to be calls for a deep evaluation within the club as to why they are not coming anywhere near close to realising their potential. On paper with three members of the Clare senior hurling panel in their ranks, the Tones should be nowhere near relegation yet they are now an intermediate side.
Scorers St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield: D Conroy (0-11 8f), C Barron (1-1), B Guilfoyle (1-0), E McMahon (0-1), A O’Neill (0-1), C Lahiffe (0-1), D McMahon (0-1)
Scorers Wolfe Tones: C O’Rourke (0-9 6f), Darragh Lohan (1-1 all frees), B Connors (0-2), A Shanagher (0-1)
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield:
1: Paul Madden
3: Darragh McMahon
2: Brian Clancy
18: Ian Williams
7: Adam Mungovan
25: Jarlath Colleran
5: Eoin McMahon
6: Darragh O’Shea
8: Jack Hannan
15: Eoin Lahiffe
9: David Conroy
12: Eoghan Thynne
13: Cian Barron
20: Alan O’Neill
11: Brian Guilfoyle
23: Aaron Landy for O’Neill (48)
4: Frances Meaney for Clancy (50)
22: Matthew Power for Guilfoyle (52)
24: Eoghan Talty for Lahiffe (62)
1: Oisin O’Rourke
2: Shane Nihill
3: Rory Hayes
4: Sam Meaney
7: Sean Costelloe
6: Darragh Lohan
8: Daithí Lohan
9: John Guilfoyle
5: Stephen Donnellan
10: Cian O’Rourke
11: Evan O’Gorman
12: Dean Devanney
14: Aron Shanagher
18: Colin Riordan for Donnellan (20) (inj)
19: Dermot O’Rourke for Nihill (22)
Referee: Gus Callaghan (Feakle)