*Keith King & Shane Hickey tackle Eoin Curtin. Photograph: Martin Connolly
Goalkeeper Ian McInerney stepped up with the vital score to send the Clare SFC final to a replay for the first time since 2016.
St Josephs Miltown 0-09
Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-09
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Playing off their best, neither side deserved to win in a stop start affair that attracted an attendance of 5,262. In what was the first championship final meeting between the clubs, the meeting was also historic as it is believed to be the first county final in which an own point was scored, the honour being bestowed upon Miltown’s Seanie Malone who registered a point for each team over the course of sixty plus minutes.
Plenty of expectation preceded the decider, unfortunately it didn’t live up to it’s billing in terms of quality football but the final eight minutes or so delivered in matching excitement levels. The opening half took a while to get going, not just because both sets of teams had to wait for the delayed arrival of Kilmurry Ibrickane captain Keith King to the field.
Tight contests tend to see missed chances scrutinised, Miltown’s seven wides was one more than Kilmurry’s six, the breakdown of those shots being frees 3:2. Kieran Malone did have goal chances, one in either half but Ian McInerney with a save and a Shane Hickey block prevented the umpires from reaching for the green flag.
Although they were the more dominant team for the majority of the opening half, Kilmurry Ibrickane didn’t let this show on the board as the sides retired at the break on four points each. It took twenty three minutes for the first score from play, that being a Michael Hogan point following a Keelan Sexton pass. In the space of sixty four seconds, Miltown also scored from play through the industrious Kieran Malone.
A move from one end of the field to the other off the back of a missed Ian McInerney free almost ended up in his own net but Darragh McDonagh dropped the ball after an excellent pass from Brian Curtin. Miltown took the lead for the first time on thirty five minutes through Cormac Murray only for his own teammate, Seanie Malone to equalise through the wrong posts.
Murray and Sexton traded scores before substitute Eoin Curtin pointed with his first touch of the ball. A dropping Ian McInerney free caused problems in the Miltown defence only for captain Gordon Kelly to punch the ball off the line and alleviate any danger. Sexton added two more spot kicks with Kieran Malone adding his second score to leave the sides level pegging approaching additional time.
Conor Cleary nudged the reigning champions ahead with sixty one minutes on the clock, a dropping Cormac Murray 45 was collected by Eoin Cleary who fed it to his twin brother to rapturous applause. Kilmurry managed to work one more attack in which they were fouled, referee Chris Maguire moved the ball forward for dissent and Ian McInerney with his third attempt on goal made no mistake to leave Jack Daly homeless for one week.
For the replay, whichever outfit puts the lessons learned into practice will be successful. None of them played close to their potential so both David O’Brien and Aidan ‘Horse’ Moloney will be happy to get another bite at the cherry. Seanie Malone, Conor Cleary and Gordon Kelly did well for Miltown while Daniel Walsh, Keelan Sexton and Ciaran Morrissey had their moments for Kilmurry.
Scorers St Josephs Miltown: E Cleary (0-02 2f), K Malone (0-02), C Murray (0-02 1f), S Malone (0-01), E Curtin (0-01), C Cleary (0-01).
Scorers Kilmurry Ibrickane: K Sexton (0-06 6f), M Hogan (0-01), S Malone (0-01), I McInerney (0-01 1f).
St Josephs Miltown: Sean O’Brien; Eoin O’Brien, Seanie Malone, Enda O’Gorman; Aidan McGuane, Gordon Kelly, Gearoid Curtin; Oisin Looney, Conor Cleary; Michael Murray, Eoin Cleary, Kieran Malone; Brian Curtin, Darragh McDonagh, Cormac Murray.
Subs: Eoin Curtin for M Murray (44), Graham Kelly for Looney (58).
Kilmurry Ibrickane: Ian McInerney; Mark Killeen, Darren Hickey, Martin McMahon; Daragh Sexton, Ciaran Morrissey, Daniel Walsh; Keith King, Aidan McCarthy; Michael Hogan, Shane Hickey, Dermot Coughlan; Niall Hickey, Keelan Sexton, Enda Coughlan.
Subs: Eamonn Bracken for N Hickey (40), Steven Moloney for Hogan (51), Daryn Callinan for E Coughlan (51), Michael O’Dwyer for D Sexton (58), Diarmuid King for K King (58).
Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)