Sean Crowley offloads as Kilmihil launch an attack. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
LISSYCASEY WILL have to maximise opportunities that fall their way as the Clare SFC progresses while Kilmihil have no choice but to overturn either Cratloe or St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield after the meeting of the West Clare neighbours on Sunday.
Eight points was the final margin as back to back semi-finalists Lissycasey started with a win. The gap was a fair reflection of the tie, in the eyes of John Ryan who is in his third season over the Lissycasey footballers.
He told The Clare Echo, “You have to hand it to Kilmihil they came with a purpose and they came strong, they set up very defensively against us, we found them very hard to break down, missing the penalty gave them a little bit of a lifeline and when they were down to fourteen we didn’t capitalise on that which was a big thing. Overall, we’re delighted to get the win but there is a lot of work to be done”.
After Mikey Keating received a black card from Barry Kelly, Lissycasey failed to score during this ten minute window, kicking three wides and having a Conor Finnucane penalty saved instead. The inability to capitalise will be punished in bigger games, the Limerick native believed. “You’ve to take every small bit of an advantage, we didn’t but I thought we held the ball well, we were patient on the ball especially in front of goal and that paid off. I thought our inside forward running was excellent, Aaron (Griffin), Shane (Griffin) and the two Conors (Finnucane and Meaney) worked tirelessly the whole time, they held up possession and scores came off that”.
Captain Seamus Collins was the sole survivor of their half-back line from the 2020 and 2021 runs to the semi-finals. Oisin Hanrahan was described by Ryan as “a big loss” and a player expected to be on the sidelines for some time yet, “He is a huge asset, we don’t know how long, it’s ankle ligaments and that’s going to be a long process, the fellas we brought in today worked and that’s all we ask for”.
That half-back line was completed by Brian Cahill who is tipped to link up with the side if they progress out of Group 2. “He is part of the panel, he was carrying an injury and we told him to work away with the hurling for the minute, hopefully we will have him back for the latter part of the championship”.
A win in the second round against St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield would seal a knockout place and having watched their meeting with Cratloe, Ryan predicted a difficult encounter. “I thought Cratloe went out of it at stages and let Doora/Barefield back into it, they got over the line, it’s a results game but we’re going to be up against it playing those day, they will be very hard to beat”.
Kilmihil boss, Gerry Downes was slightly fearful the margin of the defeat could yet prove costly. “Eight points is a big defeat in the context of this group because I feel it’s a group where every team is likely to take points off the other, hats off to Lissycasey, they were by far the better team today and they definitely deserved the win”.
It took his side 24 minutes to score from play, this factored in with their return of three different scorers over the hour is an area they must work on, he acknowledged. “If you’re not getting scores from play then you’re in trouble. Frees kept us in it, we’re missing a couple of key players, when you’ve a small panel to pick from it has an impact. The subs we brought in today didn’t make as much of an impression as we’d hope but we’ll put the heads down and work hard again”.
Among the absentees were Clare senior panellist Dan Keating who would line out at midfield. “He is definitely a couple of weeks away yet, he is working hard but with a knee injury you just don’t know, it has to take its course. We’ll see over the next week or so if he’ll be an option for the next day but it’s unlikely”.
Both of their midfielders were substituted in Keating’s absence while Stan Lineen was also missed from their cause. “It was a warm day, Lissycasey brought huge pace to the game and it was always going to tell, Dan is a huge player for the team, it’s important we get him back and we were missing Stan Lineen too today, he was out of the country, two or three big players make a massive difference but we were second best today and Lissycasey deserved their victory”.
For Kilmihil to stay in the championship, they must now overcome either Cratloe or Doora/Barefield. “We have to take points off them now, the Cratloe game becomes a big game for us now, if you lose two games in a row you’re in trouble straight away. We’ve a good honest bunch, we’ll knuckle down and get working, time is short we only have two weeks but a lot can happen in two weeks,” Downes said.