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Miltown marvel in back to back championship glory

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*Seanie Malone holds up Dermot Coughlan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

St Josephs Miltown retained the Jack Daly for the first time in their history overcoming neighbours Kilmurry Ibrickane by four points on Sunday afternoon.

St Josephs Miltown 0-12
Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-08
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Five points in succession in the final nine minutes of the contest saw Miltown retain their status as county champions. In the process, they completed the double having already won the Cusack Cup in July of this year.

Although they were deserving of their victory, the four point margin may be some bit flattering to the David O’Brien managed side, in fact it is the biggest distance that was between the clubs on the scoreboard through the course of both outings. Over the course of the 120 minutes, the sides were level thirteen times (seven last week and six on Sunday).

An attendance of 3,917 gathered in Cusack Park for the replay, down 1,345 spectators on the drawn game. It was the underdogs, Kilmurry Ibrickane who dominated the opening half yet crucially at the half-time whistle the sides were on level terms.

Eoin Cleary kicked the first point of the day with over ninety seconds played, Aidan McCarthy responded to his free in Kilmurry’s first attack and they would take the lead via Keelan Sexton on twelve minutes. A well worked move involving Conor Cleary, Kieran Malone and Cormac Murray was finished off by Graham Kelly to get their first point from play.

Three Sexton efforts in a row put a gap of three points between the sides, however Miltown responded with three unanswered white flags via the Cleary twins to go in at the break all square.

Inside the third quarter, three scores were put on the board, two for Miltown and one from Kilmurry Ibrickane. The Bricks would add two more points, both courtesy of Keelan Sexton on forty nine and fifty one minutes respectively.

However they would not score for the remainder of the game as the holders found a new lease of life which was showcased with four points from play and one Cleary free, this extra gear went unchallenged and it was enough to see them complete back to back championship victories.

A return of just two points from play is not good enough, for Kilmurry Ibrickane to do so on county final day is a big surprise and a significant factor in their shortcoming. Three years ago it was they who learned far more than Cratloe when the sides drew in the county final but although they picked up various insights from last week, it wasn’t enough to prevent a strong Miltown finish in either half.

Being in the dressing room knowing they had played the better football but had no advantage on the board was a psychological blow for Aidan Moloney’s men. Captain Keith King was carrying a knock from the drawn game which restricted his influence around the middle of the field and allowed Conor Cleary to have a bigger say in proceedings. Losing to their neighbours will hurt and to deepen the wound, the clubs are now level on the senior roll of honour. Darren Hickey, Enda Coughlan and Keelan Sexton did best for Kilmurry.

When scores were needed, Miltown provided them. On Halloween week, there was no fear on their behalf to have a go, this being exemplified by two excellent long range Conor Cleary points. Credit must be afforded to S&C coach Derek Morris, the strong manner in which they saw out both halves was very significant in determining the result.

Lovely Old Miltown was sung out by Joe Cullen moments after Gordon Kelly accepted the Jack Daly Cup while the Cleary twins, Eoin and Conor were named championship top scorer and man of the match respectively. Sean O’Brien in goals caught three scoring chances throughout including a fifty ninth minute Daryn Callinan attempt to equalise, Conor Cleary, Gordon Kelly and Gearoid Curtin were most prominent to ensure it was indeed a lovely day for Miltown.

Scorers St Josephs Miltown: E Cleary (0-05 4f), C Cleary (0-02), D McDonagh (0-02), Graham Kelly (0-01), C Murray (0-01), E Curtin (0-01).

Scorers Kilmurry Ibrickane: K Sexton (0-06 4f 1’45), A McCarthy (0-01), I McInerney (0-01 1f)

TEAMS –
St Josephs Miltown: Sean O’Brien; Enda O’Gorman, Eoin O’Brien, Seanie Malone; Gearoid Curtin, Gordon Kelly, Aidan McGuane; Conor Cleary, Darragh McDonagh; Kieran Malone, Brian Curtin, Oisin Looney; Graham Kelly, Eoin Cleary, Cormac Murray.

Subs: Micheal Murray for Looney (47), Eoin Curtin for Graham Kelly (54), Colin Hehir for K Malone (59), Jamesie O’Connor for McGuane (64).

Kilmurry Ibrickane: Ian McInerney; Mark Killeen, Ciaran Morrissey, Darren Hickey; Daragh Sexton, Martin McMahon, Shane Hickey; Aidan McCarthy, Keith King; Michael Hogan, Michael O’Dwyer, Daniel Walsh; Keelan Sexton, Enda Coughlan, Dermot Coughlan.

Subs: Eamonn Bracken for King (38) (Inj), Daryn Callinan for O’Dwyer (43), Niall Hickey for Hogan (59).

Referee: Fearghal Gray (Feakle)

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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