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*Sean O’Loughlin. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography

Kilmaley’s win, in Group 1 of the Clare Senior Hurling championship sets up a winner-takes-all clash with Clonlara. Inagh-Kilnamona are already through to the last eight and the mouth-watering tie in a fortnight’s time will decide who will join them from that group.

Kilmaley 0-20
O’Callaghans Mills 1-15
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

By Gerry Quinn

The sides were level on eight occasions in Cusack Park on Saturday over the hour, in what was a tight and tense encounter. Kilmaley, who were a point behind (1-13 to 0-15), at the last water-break, outscored their opponents by five points to two, to claim the honours.

The Mills had lost their opening three games but looked sharp in the first quarter. Jacob Loughnane landed a fifty metre free early on to open the scoring. Youngster Colm Cleary doubled his side’s lead moments later with a fine point, out on the left, from an acute angle. Sean O’Loughlin kick-started Kilmaley’s endeavours with a point from play before they raced into a four points to two advantage by the eighth minute, with scores by Eanna McMahon, O’Loughlin again and wing back Aidan McGuane. Colm Cleary for The Mills, grabbed the game’s only goal, fielding a low drilled ball before turning to his left and rattling Bryan O’Loughlin’s net. At half-time the sides were level at 1-08 to 0-11. O’Callaghan’s Mills relied mainly on free-taker Jacob Loughnane for scores whereas Kilmaley had a wider range of scorers in that opening half.

Last year’s beaten finalists began the second half like the first and hit two points through a Loughnane free and a Conor Henry effort from play. A brace by Kilmaley’s Michael O’Malley and a superb score from team-captain Michael O’Neill ensured that stalemate ensued once again. Loughnane struck the Mills in front with a big free from about seventy meters and two Aidan Fawl points before the last water-break coupled with one each for Kilmaley by O’Neill and O’Malley, saw the Mills lead by a single score (1-13 to 0-15) as the players headed to the sideline.

In the last period of play Kilmaley dug deep. Daire Keane, who was quiet, up to then came into his own. The big full-forward found his range on three occasions, tormenting the Mills defence in a short sustained period. A further point by substitute Tom O’Rourke put three between them in a frantic finish. Mills sub Sean Cotter pulled one back before Loughnan’s sixty-five meter free hit the cross-bar came out and was batter wide. Sub Gearoid O’Grady sealed The Mills fate in injury-time with the last score of the game, a point from open play.

Kilmaley Scorers: M O’Malley (0-7) 4 f’s, S O’Loughlin (0-4), D Keane (0-3), M O’Neill (0-2), A McGuane, A Griffey, T O’Rourke, G O’Grady, E McMahon (0-1) each.

O’Callaghan’s Mills Scorers: J Loughnane (0-9) 8 f’s, C Cleary (1-1), A Fawl (0-2), C Henry, C Crehan, S Cotter (0-1) each.

Teams
Kilmaley
1: Bryan O’Loughlin

2: Tommy Barry
3: Colin McGuane
4: Bradley Higgins

22: James McGuane
6: Conor Cleary
7: Aidan McGuane

8: Éanna McMahon
9: Brian Cahill

10: Michael O’Malley
11: Michael O’Neill Captain
12: Cian Moloney

13: Sean O’Loughlin
14: Daire Keane
15: Aidan Griffey
Subs:
29: Eoin Enright for Eanna McMahon (HT),
21: Gearoid O’Grady for Cian Moloney (37),
17: Tom O’Rourke for Aidan Griffey (41)
5: Sean Kennedy for James McGuire (42).

O’Callaghan’s Mills
1: Killian Nugent

2: Michael Cotter
3: Conor Cooney
17: Gerry Cooney

5: Patrick Donnellan
6: Aidan O’Gorman
4: Sean O’Gorman

22: Conor Henry
18: Michael McGrath

10: Jacob Loughnane
13: Conor Cooney
12: Aidan Fawl

20: Colm Cleary
21: Adrian Flaherty
15: Colin Crehan

Subs:
9: Sean Cotter for Adrian Flaherty (46),
7: Ciarán Cooney for Conor Henry (50)
14: Cormac Murphy for Michael McGrath (59).

Referee: Joe Mullins (Clonlara)

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