*Fergus Madden puts the sliotar past Paul Madden. Photograph: Ruth Griffin

WINNING their opening senior championship encounter for the first time since securing promotion from the intermediate ranks in 2020 heralded a “huge victory” for Scariff.

Although they trailed 0-10 0-09 at half-time, Scariff raided for three second half goals via Keelan Hartigan, Liam Crotty and Fergus Madden to earn a seven point win at the hands of St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in Dr Daly Park, Tulla on Saturday evening.

Mark McKenna was in charge of Scariff when they won the intermediate title in 2020 and has remained at the helm in their three seasons back at senior level. Winning the first round for the first time since bouncing back to the top tier was important, he stated. “That’s our third time since we came up senior and it’s our first time winning the opening round. It’s a huge victory to be honest. We put in an absolute monumental second half performance full of grit determination and I’m extremely proud of them”.

Down by a single score at the interval, the message from Mark and his management which includes former Clare joint manager Donal Moloney, was simple. “We spoke at half time about changing our approach because when you have a player like Mark Rodgers inside and no supply going into him you have to change it up and it turned for us when we went more direct. The goals put us on the front foot and we got over the line”.

They denied their opponents three late goal chances with all members of their full-back line performing deliberate pull-downs to give away frees instead of shots on goal. “It was a delight to see our young players perform and our experience shone through. I know it’s a bit cynical but those three frees late on that got us three yellows were conceded by three different players and that’s experience. I know St Joseph’s wouldn’t be happy about it but it is what it is,” McKenna said.

Scariff have a bye in the second round but will be watching their future opponents in Group 1 as they bid to keep their winning run in motion. “We can now regroup and we have a break before we go again. We are off the ground which is important. We are under no illusions at how tough the next three matches will be but we are a happy camp tonight”.

Reigning intermediate champions, St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield now face Kilmaley in the second round on Saturday. Shane O’Grady was pleased with how their young guns fared in their first senior outing, “On the positive side there was a lot of lads making their senior debut, nine in total I think and they stood up to the physical challenge that is senior hurling. It was a baptism of fire and we are proud of their efforts. It’s a five team group and we hope to get a few bodies back and we will go again”.

O’Grady was left to rue their start to the second half with the third quarter ultimately proving as the spell where Scariff won the game. “We fell asleep at the back there at the start of the second half and once they got the goal they gathered momentum and got a run at us”.

He was frustrated that they didn’t get awarded any penalties in the closing stages where they were the victims of cynical fouling. “The second goal was the changing of the game but we feel a bit unlucky to be fair, there were several deliberate pull downs and we probably should have had a couple of penalties. However there’s no point in knit picking now, the game is done and dusted and fair play to Scariff. We will dust ourselves down and we will use tonight to analyse it but from tomorrow on we will focus on Kilmaley”.

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