The 50th anniversary of the Féile na nGael competition inspired three new champions as Clonlara, Ballyea and Smith O’Brien’s garnered the county Féile hurling honours in Caherlohan on Sunday afternoon.
With the national competition switching to Under 15, it coincided with the concluding stages of the Clare Under 15 Championship and allowed others to complete their seasons on a high.
No more so than Clonlara, who 18 years after their last county A honours, unearthed their best performance of the year to overcome Inagh-Kilnamona and bridge that gap to 2003 by 0-13 to 0-09.
Inspirational talisman Michael Collins led the way with five points, four of which came in a brilliant first half display in which helped by three Stephen Hodkins points from the left wing, boosted Clonlara into a 0-9 to 0-4 half-time advantage.
Inagh-Kilnamona’s scorer-in-chief Fred Hegarty and free taker Gearoid Barry slashed the deficit to three within two minutes of the restart. However, Clonlara grittily dug their heels in and helped by Padraig Reddan, Eoin Begley, Gearoid O’Brien, Darragh Dillon and captaining goalkeeper Eoin O’Callaghan who pulled off two excellent second half saves, the South East Clare side managed to hold out for a memorable breakthrough.
While it would be a heartbreaking second final defeat in less than two weeks for Inagh-Kilnamona, Clonlara now go on to represent the county in a special 50th anniversary blitz in Thurles at the end of October.
Ballyea had a more clearcut victory to claim the Féile B honours as again, their captain came to the fore, this time midfielder Eoin Kennedy, leading by example to ensure a 0-21 to 0-05 final triumph over Newmarket-on-Fergus.
His ten point haul alongside impressive point tallies from Luke Minogue (4) and Dara Kennedy (3) were instrumental in putting daylight between the sides by half-time at 0-11 to 0-03 before a similar burst overpowered a Sean Arthur and Michael Power led Newmarket-on-Fergus.
However, the afternoon’s proceeding began with the game of the day as Smith O’Brien’s managed to turn the tide on Crusheen/Tubber and complete a 3-09 to 1-12 Féile C decider win after extra-time.
Dominant midfielders and joint-captains Peter Farrell and Osgar Dunford had powered Crusheen/Tubber to a five point advantage just after half-time, only for a Brendan Minogue goal at the turn of the final quarter to change matters irrevocably as suddenly it was the amalgamation that had to rally to force extra-time.
Smith O’Brien’s efficiency was in contrast to a wasteful Crusheen/Tubber who would be royally punished in the additional periods when substitute Tom Wood and Rhys Barry raided for goals in as many minutes to carve out a seven point half-time cushion that could only be solaced by a late Roan Ketelaar goal.
The footballing equivalent take place this weekend, with tomorrow evening’s (Friday) Division 3 Final between Doonbeg and Shannon Gaels (6.30pm) followed by back-to-back Division 1 (11am) and 2 (10am) deciders in Caherlohan on Saturday morning.