*Shane O’Donnell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Éire Óg have ended Sixmilebridge’s reign as Clare senior hurling champions and in the process stopped their three in a row bid
Éire Óg 2-18
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Having come close to defeating The Bridge in last year’s semi-final and the quarter-final the year previously, Éire Óg finally got over the line against Sixmilebridge to seal their spot in the last four in the race for the Canon Hamilton.
Doubts about the fitness of Cathal Malone and Jamie Shanahan plus the delayed suspension to Éire Óg boss Matt Shannon were among the main talking points before a ball was pucked in this eagerly awaited quarter-final.
Meeting in the championship for a third year in a row, the town side dominated this tie from the off and would not have been flattered by a bigger winning margin such was their dominance.
They controlled all sectors on a day when their defence was particularly outstanding with Aaron Fitzgerald magnificent from start to finish.
Shane O’Donnell’s goal in the third minute of added time confirmed their dominance in this quarter final and the win has seen them emulated their footballers by reaching the last four.
Éire Óg’s focus was clear from the throw in and they had two points on the board in as many minutes from freetaker Danny Russell and David Reidy. Alex Morey opened the title holders’ account before David Reidy drilled the ball to the net after winning possession from a Danny Russell cross. The winners went on to lead 1-6 to 0-3 at the first water break and they had increased their advantage to nine points, 1-12 to 0-6 when the half time whistle sounded.
An indication of the Éire Óg dominance can be gleaned from the fact that Sixmilebridge had to wait until the 22nd minute for their first score from play which came from Jason Loughnane.
The ‘Bridge returned to the second half with Clare panellist Paidi Fitzpatrick in their line up in place of Evan McInerney but Éire Óg continued to dominate and were eight points clear at the three quarter stage.
They had extended their lead to ten points when Jamie Shanahan blasted a 20m free to the net two minutes from the end of normal time but there simply was no way back for the holders and the Ennis side finished off a great display with a Shane O’Donnell goal in injury time.
This was an all round excellent team performance from Éire Óg who simply dominated every area. As they now turn their attention to next week’s football semi-final clash with St. Breckans, there will be some concern over the fitness of their football captain Gavin Cooney who limped off the pitch ten minutes from time having made a huge contribution from wing forward.
Aaron Fitzgerald, Ciaran Russell, David Reidy, Shane O’Donnell, Jarlath Collins, David McNamara, Darren O’Brien and Danny Russell excelled on the day.
Seadna Morey, Derek Fahy and Jason Loughnane worked hard for a Sixmilebridge side that had to give way to a sharper and hungrier Éire Óg.
Scorers Éire Óg: Danny Russell (0-8, 7 f) David Reidy, Shane O’Donnell (1-2) each; Darren O’Brien, Dara Walsh, Oran Cahill (0-2) each
Scorers Sixmilebridge: Alex Morey (0-5, 5f); Jamie Shanahan (1-1, 1-01f) Jason Loughnane, Seadna Morey, Cathal Malone, Brian Corry, Paidi Fitzpatrick (0-1) each.
1: Phillip Walsh
2: Jarlath Collins
6: Aaron Fitzgerald
4: Aidan McGrath
5: Nathan Murray
3: Ciaran Russell
7: Liam Corry
11: David Reidy
8: Tom Downes
10: David McNamara
15: Shane O’Donnell
18: Gavin Cooney
12: Oran Cahill
14: Danny Russell
9: Darren O’Brien
24: Dara Walsh for Downes (27) (Inj)
19: Kieran Malone for Murray (45)
13: Kevin Brennan for Cooney (50)
20: Marc O’Donnell for Cahill (57)
1: Derek Fahy
2: Brian Carey
3: Barry Fitzpatrick
4: Noel Purcell
5: Pa Mulready
6: Caimin Morey
7: Seadna Morey
11: Jamie Shanahan
9: Evan McInerney
15: Shane Golden
12: Cathal Malone
10: Alan Mulready
8: Jason Loughnane
14: Alex Morey
13: Brian Corry
17: Paidi Fitzpatrick for McInerney (HT)
18: Conor Deasy for A Morey (45)
Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)