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*Keelan Sexton was the chief scorer for the champions. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Kilmurry Ibrickane have collected their sixteenth Clare senior football championship and first since 2017.

Kilmurry Ibrickane 1-12
Cratloe 0-12
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Success for The Bricks has ensured the Jack Daly Cup will be heading to West Clare for the sixth year in succession. Their victory was merited as over the hour, they were the more superior side to record their second senior county final win over Cratloe.

Matters were tetchy in the opening half with off the ball clashes in abundance throughout as both managements and sets of supporters consistently made their voices heard. On the ball it was Kilmurry Ibrickane that played the better football in the first half and as such held a 1-06 0-05 advantage, this was largely influenced by Cratloe’s inability to yield a score for nineteen minutes.

This scenario didn’t seem likely early on as it was the South Clare men that had the brighter start with Conal O’Hanlon and Podge Collins raiding for points with four minutes gone. A pass from Darragh Sexton would tee up his namesake Keelan Sexton for Kilmurry Ibrickane’s first contribution on the scoreboard.

A well worked team move involving Conor McGrath, Shane Gleeson and Podge Collins saw Diarmuid Ryan extend Cratloe’s lead to two points on seven minutes but the next attack at the opposite end turned the contest on its head.

Aidan McCarthy won possession from David Sexton’s kickout, he managed to work the ball up field to Mark Killeen who found Keelan Sexton in space, he demonstrated quick hands to return possession to the corner back and he slotted the ball low past Pierce DeLoughrey to put the West Clare men in front for the first time and they did not relinquish the lead for the duration of the tie.

Cathal McInerney responded for Colm Collins’ outfit but his effort was cancelled out by Ciaran Morrissey just before the first water break. Both Keelan Sexton and Noel Downes added two points each as Kilmurry Ibrickane built up a sizeable five point lead. A nineteen minute period without a score was ended for Cratloe by Liam Markham to reduce the deficit as the sides made way for half-time.

On the restart, it was the danger men for either side, Sexton and Podge Collins that raised white flags but the Bricks added further efforts through Sexton and Andrew Shannon.

One of the decisive moments of the outing occurred just before the second water break when a high ball lofted into the square by Cathal McInerney was palmed to the net by Conal O’Hanlon. The goal was disallowed as the umpires deemed that the Louth native was in the square before the ball landed.

True to their form in wins over St Josephs Miltown and St Breckans where they finished the fourth quarter strongly, Cratloe once again brought this to the fore and fired over four points in a row to close the distance to two points.

To steady the nerves, Daniel Walsh and captain Michael Hogan in his final appearance for the club stepped up with a point each to settle last year’s beaten finalists. McInerney pointed two more frees but Walsh added to his tally as Kilmurry Ibrickane made sure they were the ones to be crowned county champions.

Having started so well, Cratloe appeared to be rocked by the concession of Killeen’s goal, although they hit back with the next point they went nineteen minutes without a score while Kilmurry Ibrickane tapped on a further five white flags. Their transition from defence to attack was not at a high enough pace to hurt their opponents thus limiting their scores obtained from counter-attacks, their return of five points from play being indicative of this. Podge Collins, Conor McGrath and Sean Collins did best for the two time winners on another disappointing county final day for their club.

Driven by the hurt of losing to near neighbours St Josephs Miltown last year, Kilmurry Ibrickane came back stronger with a more determined appetite in 2020. Their journey to success in the COVID-19 championship saw them overcome Miltown, Éire Óg, Lissycasey and Cratloe so their tag as the best team in the county for this year cannot be disputed.

Packed to the rafters with experience, Aiden ‘Horse’ Moloney’s side can never point to the excuse of being unfamiliar to the big occasions. The veterans provided a solid cohort but their younger guns equally stepped up and have added extra hope to the club that they will continue to remain a force at senior level. Keelan Sexton was exceptional for the winners with strong performances also from Darragh Sexton, Diarmuid King, Darren Hickey, Mark Killeen and Andrew Shannon.

Scorers Kilmurry Ibrickane: Keelan Sexton (0-05 2f), Mark Killeen (1-00), Noel Downes (0-02), Daniel Walsh (0-02), Ciaran Morrissey (0-01), Andrew Shannon (0-01), Michael Hogan (0-01)

Scorers Cratloe: Cathal McInerney (0-06 6f), Podge Collins (0-02), Conal O’Hanlon (0-01 1f), Diarmuid Ryan (0-01), Liam Markham (0-01), Sean Collins (0-01).

Kilmurry Ibrickane:
1: David Sexton

2: Shane Hickey
4: Mark Killeen
3: Darren Hickey

15: Martin McMahon

8: Diarmuid King
6: Ciaran Morrissey
7: Darragh Sexton

5: Daniel Walsh
9: Aidan McCarthy

10: Michael Hogan
12: Dermot Coughlan
17: Andrew Shannon

13: Keelan Sexton
18: Noel Downes

14: Daryn Callinan for Downes (50)
11: Enda Coughlan for Hogan (57)
22: Michael O’Dwyer for D Coughlan (59)

1: Pierce DeLoughrey

2: Sean Chaplin
3: Mike Brennan
4: David Collins

7: Liam Markham
6: Sean Collins
5: Martin Oige Murphy

9: Diarmuid Ryan
10: Shane Gleeson

22: Shane Neville
11: Podge Collins
12: Conal O’Hanlon

13: Cathal McInerney
14: Conor McGrath
15: Rian Considine

17: Enda Boyce for Chaplin (HT)
8: Billy Sheehan for Considine (40)
24: Killian Phair for Neville (40)

Referee: Niall Quinn (St Josephs Miltown)

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