*Éire Óg’s Conall Ó hÁiniféin. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Éire Óg have advanced to the quarter-finals of the Clare SFC for the fifth year in succession.
Éire Óg 0-09
As the scoreline correctly suggests, this was not a game of the ages and one that will quickly dismissed from the discussion when the talk turns to memorable games of the championship as it pales in comparison with their 2019 quarter-final tie when extra time was required in Miltown as the Magpies sent Éire Óg out of the race for the Jack Daly.
Unable to register a score in the opening half, Doonbeg as a result were unlikely to emerge as the victors but although the six point margin may seem comfortable, blood pressure most definitely rose among the Éire Óg ranks in the final moments.
Opportunities did fall Doonbeg’s way in the opening half even though they found it difficult to break down their opponents. Michael Tubridy spurned a fine goal chance on five minutes while he racked up a further two wides as the half progressed.
They may have been guilty of poor misses too but Éire Óg at least split the posts on occasion with Mark McInerney and Gavin Cooney kicking two points each while Eimhin Courtney fired the final score of the half in his first championship appearance in two years to see the Ennis side hold a 0-05 0-00 advantage at the interval.
Substitute Shane Ryan finally opened Doonbeg’s account on thirty three minutes to give the Magpies following something to cheer for. Mark McInerney with a score from play and a placed ball added to Éire Óg’s tally before David Tubridy responded to leave five points between the sides at the final water break.
That would be as close as it got for Mark Rafferty’s charges as although Paul Dillon kicked an excellent score, Gavin Cooney converted another free while substitute Jarlath Collins fisted over to seal the win and more importantly a place in the quarter-finals.
It came down to a battle and in recent years, Éire Óg lagged when it came down to these type of contests. Paul Madden’s side were the most impressive in the county following round one but that x-factor has not been evident in their second and third round clashes, when they produce their best the Townies will be very difficult to stop but the task for the side coached by ex Limerick footballer Seanie Buckley is to produce that quality showing. Once again, their half-back line of Ciaran Russell, Conall Ó hÁiniféin and Éinne O’Connor were as safe as houses with David McNamara and Gavin Cooney also impressing.
All is not lost for Doonbeg even though their confidence will take a dent following this six point loss. Their first round win over Clondegad is sufficient to see them enter into a quarter-final play off where results pending they could face the likes of Kilmihil or St Josephs Doora/Barefield which they will relish or more difficult outings versus St Josephs Miltown, Cratloe or Ennistymon. Potency in attack is lacking for the eighteen time Clare SFC winners, rectifying this plus getting much more from the younger players is essential if they are to progress to the quarter-finals via the alternative route. Paraic Aherne and Ronan Good once again threw their bodies on the line with last stitch tackles and flying blocks while Tadhg Lillis and Conor O’Mahoney also had positive contributions.
Scorers Éire Óg: M McInerney (0-04 3f), G Cooney (0-03 2f), E Courtney (0-01), J Collins (0-01).
Scorers Doonbeg: S Ryan (0-01), D Tubridy (0-01 1f), P Dillon (0-01)
1: Nathan Murray
4: Ronan Lanigan
2: Manus Doherty
3: Aaron Fitzgerald
7: Ciaran Russell
6: Conall Ó hÁiniféin
5: Éinne O’Connor
8: Darren O’Neill
9: David McNamara
12: Niall McMahon
14: Gavin Cooney
10: Aidan McGrath
13: Philip Talty
15: Mark McInerney
19: Eimhin Courtney
20: Tadhg Connellan for McGrath (44) (Inj)
17: Paddy O’Malley for Talty (46)
18: Gearoid Collins for McMahon (50)
22: Jarlath Collins for Courtney (60)
1: Eamon Tubridy
4: Conor O’Mahoney
3: Ronan Good
7: James Killeen
6: Tadhg Lillis
5: Paraic Aherne
19: Eoin Conway
22: Cian O’Mahoney
15: Kevin McInerney
9: Kevin Pender
12: Jason Linnane
11: Michael Tubridy
10: Cathal Killeen
21: Eoghan Tubridy
14: David Tubridy
13: Shane Ryan for C Killeen (27)
17: Brian Egan for Linnane (27)
25: Eoin Killeen for E Tubridy (HT)
20: Brian Behan for McInerney (35)
18: Paul Dillon for E Killeen (50).
Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe)