*Éire Óg’s David McNamara. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Éire Óg have advanced to the semi-finals of the Clare SHC and set up a rematch with Sixmilebridge after overcoming Feakle.
Éire Óg 1-18
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Having lost quarter-final ties for the past four years in succession, Éire Óg needed to get that monkey off their back and they duly did aided by their third quarter dominance where they fired five scores without reply.
Prior to this, the sides were evenly matched, they were level on four occasions inside the first twenty two minutes of the contest. Danny Russell converted a penalty to leave a four point gap at half-time, his strike would be a blow Feakle failed to recover from.
Russell was involved in an off the ball altercation before Jarlath Donnellan even had a chance to throw the sliotar in but nothing arose of the incident. Tensions remained high for the duration of the contest and it finished as a rather ratty affair with needless exchanges off the field while both sides would finish with fourteen men as Niall McMahon and Shane McGrath received second yellow cards.
Without a championship game in four weeks, Feakle in fact started the brighter and took the lead in their first attack thanks to Oisin Donnellan. Danny Russell and David Reidy responded with white flags for the Townies before an Eibhear Quilligan puckout found Steven Conway in space to pop over the equaliser on four minutes.
Philly Walsh had to show composure in the Éire Óg goal as he easily dealt with a Shane McGrath goal chance and also was alert to bat away a delivery into Martin Daly, all in the space of 34 seconds.
Bad wides on behalf of Éire Óg mounted as McGrath and Reidy traded scores. Eibhear Quilligan got down well to deny Danny Russell from raising a green flag but poor decision making from his defenders saw them fail to clear the danger and matters became worse when they fouled Shane O’Donnell leaving Donnellan with little choice but to award a penalty. Russell made no mistake with the effort and placed it well past Quiligan to leave it 1-04 0-04 on twenty three minutes.
Russell added two more placed balls while McGrath boosted Feakle’s tally at the other end to leave a gap of four points as the half-time whistle sounded.
Inside the opening two minutes of the restart, O’Donnell and McGrath split the posts before Éire Óg tapped over five points on the trot to really put some distance between the teams. Of course it was McGrath that ended their eleven minute scoring drought and added two more prior to the water break.
Substitute Eoin O’Connor finished off Michael Guilfoyle side’s run of four points on the bounce but they seemed to fall asunder at the opposite end by gifting their opponents free after free to stall their own momentum.
Russell kept the Ennis side’s account ticking over as Gary Guilfoyle netted a late consolation goal in additional time. O’Donnell slotted over the final score of the evening to see Éire Óg qualify for the semi-finals.
Already tight on numbers with Con Smyth ruled out for the season, Feakle were dealt a further blow moments before the throw-in when James Noonan was forced to withdraw through injury. Their full-back line suffered in his absence, although they did not concede a goal from play it seemed shaky at the back with Quilligan on hand to pull off two very impressive saves.
Reaching the quarter-final stages for two years in a row after securing promotion from the intermediate ranks is a healthy indicator for the East Clare outfit. The lack of strength in depth is hindering their progression past this juncture while on the day disciple was a factor in their downfall with frees brought into more scoreable positions on three different occasions as a result of mouthing on their behalf. Eibhear Quilligan and Oisin Donnellan did well over the hour.
A first Clare SHC semi-final appearance since 2003 is the reward for Éire Óg, on that occasion they suffered a 2-11 2-10 loss to Ballyea. They appeared to edge the fitness stakes in this encounter with players such as David Reidy covering plenty ground during the course of the tie. In front of goal, the Townies left a lot to be desired, their tally of ten wides may not seem alarming but the angles from which the shots were taken were rather easy to convert. This rather than the harsh decision to substitute corner-back Tadhg Connellan before half-time needs to be focused on by management.
Facing Sixmilebridge in the penultimate stage will focus the minds of Matt Shannon’s men and will require a sizeable improvement in what will be the their third championship meeting in twelve months. David Reidy, Liam Corry, Danny Russell and Ciarán Russell impressed most for the winners.
Scorers Éire Óg: Danny Russell (1-11 6f 1’Pen 1’SC), David Reidy (0-03), Shane O’Donnell (0-02), Michael Moloney (0-01), Gavin Cooney (0-01).
Scorers Feakle: Shane McGrath (0-08 6f), Gary Guifoyle (1-00), Oisin Donnellan (0-02), Steven Conway (0-02), Eoin O’Connor (0-01).
1: Phillip Walsh
4: Tadhg Connellan
3: Ciaran Russell
7: Aidan McGrath
5: Niall McMahon
6: Liam Corry
27: Aaron Fitzgerald
8: Tom Downes
13: Darren O’Brien
9: Michael Moloney
24: David Reidy
10: David McNamara
14: Shane O’Donnell
15: Danny Russell
22: Gavin Cooney
12: Kevin Brennan for Connellan (25)
1: Eibhear Quilligan
23: Justin Nelson
2: Ger Hanrahan
3: Evan McMahon
7: Eric Conway
6: Eoin Tuohy
5: Killian Bane
9: Gary Guilfoyle
12: Austin McMahon
10: Oisin Donenllan
11: Enda Noonan
15: Steven Conway
13: Raymond Bane
14: Martin Daly
8: Shane McGrath
22: Eoin O’Connor for R Bane (40)
19: Enda Madden for Noonan (54) (Inj)
Referee: Jarlath Donnellan (Wolfe Tones na Sionna)