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Martin Daly GAA ANALYSIS: Miltown are our Donegal

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Football analyst Martin Daly says that Ennistymon understand the true meaning of teamwork – but when Miltown get going they’re untouchable

St Joseph’s Miltown 1-15
Cratloe 1-8

Clare SFC semi-final
At Cusack Park, Sunday MOST club teams play the same way these days – the Donegal copybook of trying to play football.
Bring everyone behind the ball and then break with pace. Tyrone do it, even Dublin end up having to do it so it filters then down to club level – everybody wants to copy what the county boys are doing. Club teams will tell you straight up, they try to bring as many players behind the ball, close it up, and when the ball breaks everyone breaks at 100mph and create space up front.
The problem is, there aren’t enough teams with the fitness levels to sustain that. But Miltown do. Miltown have the bench, they also have the players on the field.
Having cut through the Clondegad defence with relative ease a fornight ago, they did it again last weekend against a talented Cratloe outfit.
Michael Neylon is over them and with that, the one thing they’re definitely going to be is so fit that most teams won’t live with it. That’s even the way Michael played the game. Miltown drift back well and Brian Curtain was very effective at
sweeper, covering the ground easily. And when they break, they do it with pace.
They also have a number of men in the final third who can throw the ball over the bar. They’re not just relying on one key man – although Eoin Cleary is their obvious standout – they have five or six and because of that I believe they’ll be very hard to stop in the final.
It was easier at the weekend for Miltown than I anticipated. Cratloe, lively to begin with, were 0-4 to 0-2 up half way through the first half but when Miltown got going they were untouchable for a while.
Having missed a penalty before half time and missed a one-on-one at the beginning of the second half, they could have had six extra points on the board before the second half really got going. And impressively, they didn’t let it phase them.
Cratloe will rue not taking advantage of the period they dominated but couldn’t convert – missing three or four opportunities.
It was the only time they really put Miltown under pressure and when they missed those chances Miltown just went up another gear.
CRATLOE’S LEGS
Many Cratloe men were playing their 11th championship game in a row last Sunday so something’s got to give eventually – regardless of how well they were balancing the workload with low-impact training – and it finally showed against Miltown. And it wasn’t for want of trying.
There was one stage at the very end of the game three Cratloe lads took off after one Miltown man. Two gave up the chase but one stayed going, that was Podge Collins who you’ll always get 100 per cent from – but sometimes it’s just not in the legs despite the obvious desire.
Like Cratloe in the hurling against Kilmaley, fatigue started kicking in and the game fizzled out with five minutes to go as Miltown were so on top. Just five minutes earlier, Cratloe were still in this
game. But Miltown missed nothing, kept their foot on Cratloe’s throat.
Now the county hurling final will be their 12th week of championship action in a row.
Whether they can get a spring in their step for that remains to be seen.

Ennistymon 2-06
Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-11
Clare SFC semi-final

At Cusack Park, Saturday ENNISTYMON HAVE MADE HISTORY BY reaching their first ever SFC county final and they’ve done it by displaying high levels of attrition, discipline, fitness and workrate. But most importantly – and this is the reason they have all those attributes – they have bought into Ger Quinlan’s gameplan.
I wrote in this column after their win over Éire Óg of Ennistymon’s patient game and on Saturday, faced with the reigning champions Kilmurry Ibrickane, they did it again and with that I knew they would be hard to beat.
A few things had to go their way and they did. A very lucky goal just before half time brought them back into the game however in the second half, despite only scoring one point from play, they were the better team.
They only scored 2-6 in total but over the hour deserved their victory.
The workrate and committment of their midfield is second to none and the halfback line is willing to attack. Up front, if they get a few balls into Joe Dowling and Michael McDonagh, they’re guarenteed a few points. In extremely harsh conditions, their handling was also far superior to Kilmurry’s.
TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK
More than anything, they work so well as a unit. Ennistymon has no superstar. What they have is a well-gelled team. Cathal Malone got sent off towards the end of the game with a second yellow and again, it just didn’t seem to phase them. The quality of player they were bringing in was just as good as what they had on the field. Them buying into what Ger Quinlan is doing is the key. A team willing to work like that, you don’t need great individuals. A team is more important that one man.
But why they didn’t score in the last 20 minutes and is it something they must address? Number one, you’re playing the county champions. Especially when you’re in new territory and can see a county final staring you in the face, the pressure is going to rear its head, and Ennistymon – while playing good football – did invite Kilmurry onto them. But credit to them, they stuck to their guns getting over line.
GREAT KILMURRY
I had felt that Kilmurry – for the quality that they’re used to – hadn’t taken any major scalps en route to the semi finals.
They struggled over relegation battlers Lisseycasey and also Corofin, who in hinesight will be very happy to remain senior this year. But don’t be mistaken, they are the kingpins of Clare football and their structures should be admired by everyone – they’ve won eight Cusack Cups in a row. They have six out of the last 10 county finals won. They’re too good a team to go into decline and they live and die for their football. They have Munster titles, they got to an All Ireland final a handfull of years ago. Are they going to come back? You can chalk it down they will.

Lisseycasey 0-10
St Breckan’s 1-05

Clare SFC relegation final playoff At Cusack Park, Saturday A DO or die match for both these sides.
Following their defeat to Doonbeg, I lamented the lack of urgency in Lisseycasey’s play and what appeared to be a lack of awareness as to the importance of the situation they were in.
There was no question that they answered a few questions on Saturday, with nobody putting their hand up more than Mikey O’Neill. O’Neill had concentrated on his hurling with Kilmaley all this year, due in part to a
nasty shoulder injury he got playing football with Lisseycasey last year, but last minute was asked to line out at the weekend.
Putting in a man-of-the-match performance, his football level surprised me after not seeing a ball all year. While he was badly needed to lift that intensity, he had help; Seamie Collins at centre back was excellent, wingback Cyril Sheehan did serious work, Ryan Griffin was steady, as was Matt O’Shea in the middle of the field, and Niall Kelly worked very well up front but they were sparked into life by the brilliant O’Neill.
I won’t lie. I’m sure some people would look differently on a man coming back for the first time this year and getting on the first 15. But the bottom line is when you’re in a relegation battle and your backs are
against the wall, you have to push all those things aside and say ‘whatever we can do to get over the line will be massive for us’. If your heart is in the right place, you’re going
to row in behind that man. The club comes first, and it was all about the club of Lisseycasey on Saturday.
Lisseycasey as a whole well deserved the win. They started well, were never behind in the game, led 0-4 to 0-1 early on and frees were all that kept Breckans in the game in
the first half. Lisseycasey were 0-05 to 0-04 up at the break and that flattered Breckan’s.
With a small breeze in the second, Lisseycasey stepped up another level and Breckan’s couldn’t live with it. Lisseycasey
were 0-10 to 0-4 up going into injury time and it just shows how things can turn so fast in a relagation playoff. Breckan’s got their first point of the second hald two minutes into injury time, they worked it back in and got a penalty and scored and all of a sudden it’s 1-05 to 0-10. Enda Finnucane had been lost to a black card, Oisín Hanrahan was off after a second yellow, so Lisseycasey were down to 14 men. Honestly, another
couple of minutes in the game you’d have been really worried. One small turn and your team can doubt themselves. But thankfully the final whistle went after that kickout and Lisseycasey came away with the win.
Lisseycasey are a young team but have gone through six managers in the last few years and you can’t always point the finger at the manager. Hopefully they’ll learn from this year – learn how easy it is to get caught up in a rut and get up to where I think they should be next year, fighting for titles.

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