*Cormac Murray takes on Fergal Ginanne. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
CORMAC MURRAY once again came up trumps for St Joseph’s Miltown with a defining fifty fifth minute goal on Sunday to send them into the Clare SFC semi-finals for the first time since 2019.
Murray was aided by the outstanding performance of veterans Gordon Kelly and Brian Curtin, the duo ironically were walking side by side as they exited Cusack Park on Sunday evening while the return of Eoin Cleary was significant with the outgoing Clare captain kicking two points on his introduction.
Not alone did Murray kick 1-3, the green flag on fifty five minutes serving as a main turning point in the game but he showed his commitment to the cause in the advance of the game which he played with a broken bone in his arm and indeed he removed the cast for this injury, all for the love of the club.
St Joseph’s Miltown manager, Martin Guerin said of Cormac’s sacrifice, “That is a sign of the character of the guy, he will play no matter what, there’s no ifs or buts, even when he broke it he said ‘look it I’ll be playing I’ll just have a cast on it beforehand’, he is a brilliant footballer.
Eoin Cleary’s return to the fold has given a huge lift, Guerin admitted. “You would not believe how much we wanted to see that guy back in game after game, we thought we’d have him back a couple of games ago but it just didn’t work out and we were disappointed but we dusted ourselves off, our panel came to the fore and filled in for him. To have him to come off the bench, he scored two valuable points in a tight game, you can’t buy that type of experience and skill”.
Getting over the line against Kildysart provided “more relief than anything else,” he reflected. “We’ve been under the cosh for the last two games, I’m not trying to make excuses but we’ve had a lot of injuries and we thought we had lads back today and two minutes in Micheál Murray goes off after pulling his hamstring, we’d three or four more lads on the bench that we would like to use but we couldn’t, we got there in the end. Kildysart are a good, young side, physical and a good coming team, we knew we’d be up against it but our experience pulled us through in the end”.
Shot conversion must be improved, Martin acknowledged, “We should have converted a lot more in both halves, that is something we need to work on and have a look at”. He continued, “We’ve proven time and time again that there is character in this team, particularly this year, it’s probably a different team and there is transition going on here, there’s young guys coming on. We’ve shown character in the Garry Cup final, in the O’Gorman Cup final and in all the championship games, it has been tested off the field as much as it has been on it with the injuries and then when things happen in a game we don’t get excited, we don’t panic, we try play the ball through the lines and get it to our sharpshooters and hopefully they finish and are clinical”.
Arguably their best sequence of play in the game was the goal. Conor Cleary turned over a Kildysart kick out in the middle of the field, he found his twin brother Eoin who fed possession to Brian Curtin, he gave the ball to Murray, Murray distributed it back before Curtin found the full-forward again and the next thing the ball was in the back of the net. “It came from a short kickout, we moved the ball down the field quickly, they can go back and put in a blanket defence and are very hard to break down, they have big physical guys, they are very athletic and very fit, it came from fast play, quick hands, Cormac Murray is a genius of a footballer, once he gets a shot, he almost had a goal in the first half, he is going to shoot no matter what”.
With St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield bringing Éire Óg to extra time in the quarter-finals, it has strengthened the belief of the three challengers to the champions. “I knew Doora/Barefield would test them but I didn’t think it would go to extra time, it seems to be a wide open championship, Cratloe took out Kilmurry Ibrickane who were fancied, whoever gets anyone in the semi-final there is nothing between the teams, you could see what the Spa did to Lissycasey, Cratloe are a crafty team with great experience and a lot of good forwards, we’re all much of a muchness, everyone is trying to play the same way get up fast and get back fast, it might make for boring football at times but we have to try and put the scores on the board and win out in the end”.