*Philip Talty gets away from James Murphy. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

COUNTY CHAMPIONS ÉIRE ÓG are on course to retain the Jack Daly after producing a sterling display to see off Clondegad and book their place in the last four of the senior championship.

Éire Óg 2-11
Clondegad 0-11
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Completing a semi-final lineup which also includes Kilmurry Ibrickane, Ennistymon and Corofin, Éire Óg gave the top football display over the weekend with their movement of the ball through the hands most notably in their attacking unit, simply superb.

Clare senior footballer Ciaran Russell missed out on the tie through injury and the loss of a player of his quality still didn’t deter Éire Óg in their quest for glory. Impressively, hunger has not been lacking in their ranks this year with the Townies intent on putting back to back titles together and potentially even completing a double with their hurlers in semi-final action next weekend and they equally will be confident of advancing to the big day.

Recycling of the ball back small distances saw the Ennis side at their best, this was done in close proximity and through the hands with Gavin Cooney’s fifth minute score, a perfect example of how well they mastered this. Philip Talty won possession before offloading to centre Ikem Ugwueru, he created the space and popped to Oran Cahill who smartly popped to Cooney who made no mistake with his effort.

Their forwards impressed but so too did their backline with the full-back line of Manus Doherty, Aaron Fitzgerald and Ronan Lanigan superb at keeping Shane Daniels protected over the hour.

Clondegad matched the county champions for the opening quarter and while they didn’t completely faulter from here, the concession of a sixteenth minute goal really deflated their cause. The green flag could have been prevented, their own kickout from Declan O’Loughlin went straight to Philip Talty who played through Mark McInerney and he duly slotted the ball to the back of the net and in the process created a five point gap.

Gary Brennan and Ryan Jennings kicked the next two scores to reduce the distance to three points but McInerney and Cooney hit the mark to make it 1-08 0-06 at half-time.

Hopes of a second half revival were immediately dashed when McInerney converted from the penalty spot. The ever menacing Cooney won the penalty, had he not, he would have likely tapped the ball in the back of the net himself. This green flag on thirty two minutes effectively sealed the result with Paul Madden’s charges doing their bit to see out the game from here.

Indeed, the county champions would add just three more points in the remainder of the clash, Oran Cahill, Gavin Cooney and McInerney hitting the target, but they also kept Clondegad to just four points and rightly booked their spot in the semi-finals for the second year in a row.

How Éire Óg moved the ball was a level above their opponents with smart play the main focus especially in their forward unit. Stiffer tests lie on the horizon for their defence but the task in this outing was to dilute Gary Brennan’s influence which they did to a degree, keeping the ex Clare captain to two points from play is no easy feat.

Gavin Cooney is having a tremendous season for both the club’s footballers and hurlers, such was his dominance that Cillian Brennan had to be redeployed from an attacking wing-back role to full-back to try deal with Cooney. As mentioned above, the full-back line also impressed as did McInerney and Ikem Ugwueru.

For Clondegad, reaching the quarter-finals is a step in the right direction given that they were in the relegation play-offs last year. Brennan aside, they lacked a goal threat and never tested Shane Daniels between the posts, while the St Flannan’s school teacher was definitely their best player over the hour, a label he has had thrown at him throughout his club career.

Scorers Éire Óg: M McInerney (2-03 1’Pen 1’45 1f 1M), G Cooney (0-06 4f), O Cahill (0-02).

Scorers Clondegad: G Brennan (0-07 5f), B O’Connell (0-01), R Jennings (0-01), M Garry (0-01), B Toner (0-01)

Éire Óg:
16: Shane Daniels

2: Manus Doherty
3: Aaron Fitzgerald
4: Ronan Lanigan

17: Jarlath Collins
6: Aidan McGrath
5: Éinne O’Connor

8: Darren O’Neill
9: David McNamara

12: Niall McMahon
11: Ikem Ugwueru
10: Oran Cahill

15: Mark McInerney
14: Gavin Cooney
13: Philip Talty

19: Conor O’Halloran for McMahon (57)
20: Dean D’Auria for J Collins (61)
22: Niall O’Donoghue for Cooney (63)

1: Declan O’Loughlin

4: Niall Lynch
2: Brian Casey
3: Brian Murphy

5: Conor Gavin
6: Peter Casey
17: Cillian Brennan

8: James Murphy
9: Brandon O’Connell

10: Morgan Garry
14: Shane Brennan
15: Barry Toner

18: Eoghan Donnellan
11: Gary Brennan
13: Ryan Jennings

7: Gearoid O’Connell for Donnellan (24)
23: Podge McMahon for Lynch (HT)

Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe)

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