*Michael O’Malley is tackled by Conor Downes. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Billed as a winners-takes-all final round showdown, Kilmaley and Scariff were ultimately content with a draw-suits-all conclusion as both sides advanced to the senior hurling championship quar-ter-finals at the expense of back-to-back champions Ballyea.

Kilmaley 0-21
Scariff 1-18
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

In truth, both sides could legitimately claim to have merited victory as they each had their peri-ods of dominance and scoring purple patches. However, with Scariff and Kilmaley level now fewer than ten times over the hour, eight times in the second half alone, a share of the spoils was fully deserved.

For Scariff, it kept their unbeaten record intact which in the undoubted ‘group of death’ was no mean feat considering the heavyweights that appeared ahead of them in the pecking order when the draw was made.

For all the flair of their second half salvo against Doora/Barefield and a scintillating hour to lower Inagh/Kilnamona, the last two matches have been more about testing their character, an exami-nation which they passed with flying colours to top the table unscathed.

Equally for Kilmaley, having soared to the lofty heights of taking down champions Ballyea by twelve points in their opening outing to the nadir of a twelve point reverse against neighbours last time out, this was a barometer of their mettle and in their end, they demonstrated enough belly for battle to advance to the last eight.

A compelling end-to-end shootout from start to finish, the quality may have ebbed and flowed but there was never a dull moment despite the pressure being ramped up.

Scariff started in typically electric form with Mark Rodgers finding the net with a trademark un-stoppable finish after only two minutes. Indeed, with Scariff depending on the county senior for inspiration throughout the opening period, he had chalked up 1-3 by the seventh minute but re-quired more assistance if the East Clare side were to maintain that tempo.

Instead, Mikey O’Malley led a Kilmaley revival that ended up being a seven point unanswered turnaround, four from O’Malley, to power 0-9 to 1-3 in front.

Goal chances at either end for Mark Rodgers and Colm Killeen were both snuffed out by some excellent last ditch defending while later in the half Keelan Hartigan and Gearoid O’Grady had goal bound efforts repelled by the respective goalkeepers as Kilmaley held on to a three point ad-vantage by the break at 0-11 to 1-5.

Within two minutes of the restart, that lead was wiped out as Scariff shot out of the blocks once more to convert the first five points through Patrick Crotty, Shane Kavanagh, Keelan Hartigan, Rodgers and Conor Downes at 1-10 to 0-11.

From there to the finish, it increasingly became a blow-for-blow slugfest, with Mark Rodgers’ 58th minute sighting on goal that just cleared the crossbar the only deviation to what seemed a clear sharing of the spoils from a long way out.

Overall, Kilmaley won’t be pleased with their 14 wides compared to only four for Scariff as with a lit bit more composure in front of the posts, they could have put the game to bed coming down the final straight, a result that would have seen Brian Culbert’s side top the group.

It was Scariff that levelled the tie for the tenth and final time however as a short puck-out to Shane Kavanagh was launched over the bar from his own ’65 to split the points and put both teams in to Monday’s draw for the quarter-finals.

Scorers for Kilmaley: Mikey O’Malley 0-10 (7f, 1’65), Daire Keane 0-2, Conor Cleary 0-2, Tommy Barry 0-2, Gearoid O’Grady 0-2, Mikey O’Neill 0-2, Colm Killeen 0-1

Scorers for Scariff: Mark Rodgers 1-10 (4f), Patrick Crotty 0-2, Shane Kavanagh 0-2 (1f), Keelan Hartigan 0-1, Conor Downes 0-1, Fergus Madden 0-1, Sean Minogue 0-1

Kilmaley
1: Bryan O’Loughlin

2: Martin O’Connor
3: Colin McGuane
4: Oisin Looney

6: Aidan McGuane
31: Aaron Moloney
5: Brian Cahill

7: Tommy Barry
29: Sean Kennedy

11: Mikey O’Malley
8: Conor Cleary
10: Daire Keane

13: Colm Killeen
14: Mikey O’Neill
22: Gearoid O’Grady

Subs
17: Cian Neylon for Killeen (44)
30: Kenneth Kennedy for S. Kennedy (48)
12: Joe Carmody for Barry (59)
15: Tom O’Rourke for O’Grady (60)

Scariff
1: William Kavanagh

4: Daniel Treacy
3: Michael Scanlan
2: Seamus McCaul

5: Scott Cairns
6: Diarmaid Nash
7: Shane Kavanagh

8: Conor Downes
9: Keelan Hartigan

12: Liam Crotty
11: Patrick Crotty
10: Michael Barrett

15: Fergus Madden
13: Mark Rodgers
14: Patrick Ryan

Subs
20: Eanna O’Brien for Madden (49)
21: Sean Collins for Crotty (52)
24: Sean Minogue for Scanlan (55)
19: Jack Ryan for P. Ryan (63, inj)

Referee: Joe Mullins (Clonlara)

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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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