*Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Cooraclare did it the hard way as they eventually shrugged off the challenge of a spirited Kilrush Shamrocks side to stay in the race for the Jack Daly.
Kilrush Shamrocks 1-14
Venue: Shanahan McNamara Memorial Park, Doonbeg
For the third championship meeting in a row between the sides it was Cooraclare that came out on top at the sounding of the final whistle. This time round, extra time was required to separate the sides as Kilrush’s involvement in the championship concluded while the 2015 finalists now find themselves in a three-way play-off alongside St Josephs Miltown and either Clondegad or Cratloe with just one securing the final semi-final spot.
Kilrush started the brighter and were five points clear on eight minutes, Gearoid O’Brien kicking a superb point alongside a Liam Madigan double. Mark Fennell netted a superb goal having won a Cooraclare kickout and he tore through the opposing defence before unleashing a powerful shot past Killian Roche.
A strong response from Cooraclare followed with David Russell’s charges firing the next six points on the trot to take the lead for the first time. Two points from Madigan and one each from Pearse Lillis and Ciaran O’Donoghue left a single point between the sides as they retreated for the half-time break.
Losing Gearoid O’Brien for any period of time would have been viewed as a sizeable blow for Kilrush Shamrocks but they were left without him for ten minutes as the county panellist was shown a black card on thirty four minutes. During his absence, both sides added a single score with an outstanding Stephen Ryan save pushing a Micheál Garry over the crossbar. At the other end, Ross Phelan spurned a fantastic goal opportunity created by Billy Clancy.
Goalkeeper Killian Roche and Lillis extended Cooraclare’s advantage to four points but the underdogs Kilrush refused to lie down and narrowed the gap one point at a time, three via Madigan and one from O’Brien to force extra time. Prior to the full-time whistle, both sides were reduced to fourteen men with O’Brien and Jack Morrissey dismissed for separate second bookable offences.
A goal at the start of each half in extra time sent the Milesians on their way to glory. Shane Lillis stepped up in extra time and fired 1-01 in the first ten minute period.
County minor Micheál Garry appeared to have wrapped up proceedings with a goal at the beginning of the second half of extra time but alarmingly for the winners they didn’t score for the final nine minutes of the clash and allowed Kilrush reduce the deficit to four points. Losing Ross Phelan to a second yellow card also hindered the Shams as they fought their way back into proceedings.
With no relegation in 2020, the emphasis for Aidan Daly’s Kilrush was to blood new players. They did that and will be disappointed not to have come out on the right side of this fixture. They afforded their opponents too much space in attack and this will be one of the many lessons that will strengthen their cause next year. For them, Mark Shannon, Mark Fennell and Keith Crowley impressed.
They have yet to hit the limits they are capable of but crucially Cooraclare are still in the fight. Their tackling, particularly that of Pearse Lillis and Thomas Downes was eye-catching as was their tally of eleven wides, many of which were from scoreable angles. With a full-forward line brimming with pace and ability, the Milesians will be difficult to stop if they hit their potential, however clicking on the big day is easier said than done. Niall Kelly, Shane Lillis, Declan McMahon, Pearse Lillis and Ciaran O’Donoghue were best for the winners.
Scorers for Cooraclare: Shane Lillis (1-02), Micheál Garry (1-02), Pearse Lillis (0-05 3f 1’45), Ciaran O’Donoghue (0-02), Fergal Donnellan (0-01), Jack Morrissey (0-01), Padraic O’Donoghue (0-01), Killian Roche (0-01 1f).
Scorers for Kilrush Shamrocks: Liam Madigan (0-12 12f), Mark Fennell (1-00), Gearoid O’Brien (0-02).
1: Killian Roche
3: Niall Kelly
4: Declan McMahon
2: Fergal Donnellan
13: Thomas Downes
9: Colin McNamara
5: Ronan Donnellan
6: Pearse Lillis
18: Tadhg Lillis
19: Joe Downes
11: Ciaran O’Donoghue
12: Padraic O’Donoghue
14: Jack Morrissey
8: Micheál Garry
23: Shane Lillis
7: Thomas Donnellan for J Downes (HT)
15: Caoimhín Donnellan for T Lillis (45)
20: Conor Marrinan for S Lillis (52)
Shane Lillis (60)
1: Stephen Ryan
3: Fiachra Crowley
4: Michael Shannon
2: Sean Purtill
10: Dean Neary
6: Callum Bond
12: Keith Crowley
18: Mark Fennell
14: Billy Clancy
9: Mark Shannon
5: Niall Brennan
8: Gearoid O’Brien
13: Ross Phelan
11: Jamie Griffin
15: Liam Madigan
19: Ray Glynn for Brennan (HT)
17: Filip Rzymek for Neary (45)
Niall Brennnan (60)
Dean Neary for Fennell (66) (Inj)
24: Ewan Kelly for F Crowley (70)
20: Johnny Williams for K Crowley (75) (Inj)
Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)