*Photograph: Martin Connolly
St Josephs Miltown have booked their place in the final of the Clare SFC for the third time in five years after seeing off the challenge of a stubborn Doonbeg on Saturday evening.
St Josephs Miltown 1-16
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Without doubt this was far from Miltown’s best hour but beyond question, they did enough to get by. In knockout games, the result is all that matters even though their second half showing won’t suffice in two weeks time on county final day.
Whether it’s 1997 or 2019, Doonbeg will never say die. Miltown always knew they were going to get a fight which is why they should be concerned as to how their ten point advantage was gradually reduced as the game progressed.
Early on the reigning champions brought a ferocity that Doonbeg were unable to cope with, no defender in black and white had an easy passage through the Miltown defenders, such workrate was typified with the turnovers that led to an Eoin Cleary white flag on seven minutes.
Cormac Murray received more game-time with the county seniors this year than ever before, he had to deal with his fair share of critics but he duly answered them finishing as his side’s main scorer with a personal tally of 1-04. The amount of space left in front of him was a god-send as the lively and pacy forward did damage during their period of dominance.
An excellent David Tubridy effort from play on eighteen minutes came after goalkeeper Eamon Tubridy worked the ball up to the middle of the park and made it 0-08 0-03. A Miltown brace of an unanswered five points followed to extend the gap to ten points.
Tubridy and Paul Dillon kicked the last two scores of the half and from the resumption Doonbeg added four white flags without reply. To add to their growing momentum, Miltown were reduced to fourteen men when Micheal Murray was dismissed for a second bookable offence on forty six minutes. Their extra man advantage lasted for a whole two minutes and forty five seconds as the Magpies saw their captain Paraic Aherne given his marching orders after being shown a second yellow.
Here, any chance of an upset was thrown out the window as Aherne who has been their best player in the 2019 championship was a loss they could not afford. David O’Brien’s Miltown added three of the next four scores including a Cormac Murray goal on fifty seven minutes. A superb Eoghan Tubridy goal was only mere consolation in additional time and another free from David Tubridy ensured the distance between the teams would be only four points as Wayne King drew proceedings to a halt.
At the outset of the year, reaching the semi-finals would be marked as a positive campaign for Doonbeg. Although they struggled in the opening half with the pace and movement of their opponents, they never gave in. Their experience shone through in this outing and their quarter-final win over Éire Óg. Obviously blending in more new players is required but for them to remain as a force at senior, their entire panel needs to be training at a high level collectively for the majority of the year and not just in the run-up to championship. Joe Blake, David Tubridy and Paraic Aherne did well once again while Sean Conway’s displays all year should not go unnoticed.
Fourteen Clare SFC titles have been amassed by Miltown in their history, they have never won back to back titles and are now sixty minutes away from completing that feat. They possess a forward line where scores are commonplace off each member. Defensively they outsmarted their counterparts as they were sharper with dealing with the breaks off Colm Dillon. The alarm bells have been sounded as a second half of this nature cannot be replicated on county final day, scoring 1-03 in any half will not be enough for them to retain the Jack Daly. Their workrate in the opening half was immense but it was not sustained. Cormac Murray, Seanie Malone, Brian Curtin, Eoin Cleary and Gordon Kelly were most influential for the winners.
Scorers St Josephs Miltown: C Murray (1-04 1f), E Cleary (0-06 4f 1’45), D McDonagh (0-03), K Malone (0-02), C Cleary (0-01).
Scorers Doonbeg: D Tubridy (0-07 5f), E Tubridy (1-01), S Ryan (0-02), E Doyle (0-01), P Dillon (0-01).
St Josephs Miltown: Sean O’Brien; Enda O’Gorman, Seanie Malone, Eoin O’Brien; Gearoid Curtin, Gordon Kelly, Aidan McGuane; Oisin Looney, Conor Cleary; Eoin Cleary, Brian Curtin, Kieran Malone; Micheal Murray, Darragh McDonagh, Cormac Murray.
Subs: Graham Kelly for Looney (42), Colin Hehir for G Curtin (58), Jamesie O’Connor for B Curtin (58), Eoin Curtin for C Murray (59), Ger Malone for K Malone (61).
Doonbeg: Eamon Tubridy; Joe Blake, Kevin Pender, Sean Conway; Paraic Aherne, Eoin Conway, Cian O’Mahoney; David Tubridy, Kevin McInerney; Brian Egan, Paul Dillon, Michael Tubridy; Eoghan Tubridy, Colm Dillon, Enda Doyle.
Subs: Ronan Good for McInerney (HT), Shane Ryan for P Dillon (36), Enda Barrett for Doyle (53), Nathan Capon for Egan (56).
Referee: Wayne King (St Josephs Doora/Barefield)