*Feakle’s Gary Guilfoyle. Photograph: Sport Action Photography
In the end Feakle had more than a social distance to spare over Whitegate in this keenly contested derby opener in O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge on Saturday afternoon.
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge
Having finished the first half with a Shane McGrath inspired flourish to move 0-9 to 0-5 clear, Feakle would be able to weather a stern second half backlash from their neighbours before putting their foot back on the gas after the last water break and outscore Whitegate by 0-8 to 0-4.
In truth, a more clinical Feakle just found scores that bit easier to come by as evidenced by the fact that five of their forward division shared nine points from play between them over the hour whereas Whitegate’s solitary score from their attacking unit stemmed from former Clare senior Tommy Holland.
And yet, for long periods there was very little between the sides on the scoreboard as the neighbours were level by the 29th minute and only a point separated the sides entering the final quarter as Michael Hynes expertly took over the freetaking duties from the injured Paul Burke.
Burke’s first half retirement allied to Colm Madden’s collision with his own team-mate just before the final water break would prove seismic blows to Whitegate’s chances. That said, Feakle weren’t without their injury woes either as Con Smyth had to go off within a minute of the throw-in while Oisin Donnellan was clearly hampered throughout by a hamstring issue.
However, Feakle’s additional firepower just about kept their noses in front as allied to strong performances from Eoin Tuohy, Gary Guilfoyle, James Noonan and the aforementioned Donnellan, Shane McGrath effectively pulled the strings and more importantly the trigger to raid for an 11 point tally.
With the wind at their backs, Feakle started the brighter, with a brace from McGrath nudging them 0-5 to 0-2 clear by the first break in play. Whitegate got more out of their water bottles it seemed though as successive points through Ciaran Keenan, Paul Burke and Michael Hynes regained parity by the 25th minute.
Not to be outdone, up stepped Shane McGrath to punish Whitegate’s incremental indiscipline as the roaming forward raided for the last four points of the half, three in injury-time, to give Feakle a 0-9 to 0-5 cushion.
There would be an inevitable kick in Whitegate however as five different scorers (Andrew Fahey, Colin Burke, Tommy Holland, Danny and Michael Hynes) slashed the deficit to just the minimum by the 41st minute.
Whitegate’s growing self-belief was almost dented when two defenders clashed for Steven Conway to bear down on goal, only for Dylan White to come to his side’s rescue with an excellent last ditch block.
That incident did result in centre-back Colm Madden having to succumb to a shoulder injury and after the mandatory midway break, Feakle would re-emerge in much more ruthless fashion as six different scorers turned the screw on their local rivals to run out more convincing victors.
Scorers for Feakle: Shane McGrath (0-11, 5f, 2’65); Gary Guilfoyle (0-3): Oisin Donnellan (0-2); Raymond Bane, Eoin Tuohy, Enda Noonan, Killian Bane, Martin Daly (0-1 each)
Scorers for Whitegate: Michael Hynes (0-5f); Andrew Fahey (0-3, 2f, 1’65); Paul Burke (2f), Colin Burke, Danny Hynes (0-2 each); Ciaran Keenan, Tommy Holland (0-1 each)
1: Eibhear Quilligan
4: James Noonan
3: Evan McMahon
2: Ger Hanrahan
7: Con Smyth
6: Eoin Tuohy
12: Austin McMahon
5: Killian Bane
9: Gary Guilfoyle
15: Steven Conway
11: Enda Noonan
10: Oisin Donnellan
13: Raymond Bane
14: Martin Daly
8: Shane McGrath
21: Eoin O’Connor for Smyth (1, inj)
17: Eric Conway for O’Connor (44)
20: Colin Nelson for S. Conway (54)
1: Andrew Fahey
4: Dylan White
3: Eoin Quirke
2: Eoin Patterson
5: Brendan Bugler
6: Colm Madden
7: Ian Fahy
8: Colin Burke
9: Ciaran Keenan
10: Michael Hynes
11: Thomas Holland
12: Paddy Burke
14: Ronan Hayes
17: Reuben Noyes
15: Paul Burke
18: Danny Hynes for Paul Burke (25, inj)
13: Thomas Hogan for Madden (47, inj)
Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe)