*Eoin Hayes is one of the survivors from the last Newmarket-on-Fergus side to taste championship glory. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Almost a decade on from their 2012 title breakthrough, there are still enough survivors for Newmarket-on-Fergus to mount a concerted tilt at reclaiming the Canon.
Management: Tomás Ryan (Manager), David McCormack (Coach), James Carrig, Brian Clancy, John McInerney (Selectors), Derek Morris (S&C), John Earls (Physio)
Captain: John Feehily
Key Player: Colin Guilfoyle
One to Watch: Éanna Crimmins
Fresh Blood: Mark Delaney, Darragh Whelan
Players Gone: Eoin O’Brien, Shane O’Brien Snr, Shane O’Brien Jnr
Titles Won: 23
Most Recent Title: 2012
Round 1 (Saturday) – Newmarket-on-Fergus v Éire Óg
Round 2 (Saturday/Sunday, September 4/5th) – Newmarket-on-Fergus v Feakle
Round 3 (Saturday/Sunday, September 18/19th) – Newmarket-on-Fergus v Clooney-Quin
A handful of Clare Cup titles have been welcome but it was the Blues’ 2019 double final appearance in the Minor B and Under 21B deciders that have offered the most encouragement to that objective.
That’s why the appointment of Tomás Ryan is an interesting move, being the last manager to guide his native club to a Minor A crown back in 2010.
A perfect Clare Cup 1B run has only bolstered the belief that Newmarket can get back to being in the shake up for championship honours, having had to settle for a Senior B final appearance in 2020.
“It was just great to be playing games and they were competitive matches too.” Admits Ryan who is joined by fellow locals James Carrig, Brian Clancy, John McInerney and Davy McCormack on the management ticket.
“We’d be happy with how we have progressed, we’ve given every lad a chance and built up a bit of momentum so it was good preparation for the championship. Éire Óg obviously have been the most consistent team over the past couple of years but each of the teams will look at the group and fancy their chances of getting out and going on a run.
“As the Mills proved last year, if you can get any bit of momentum at all in the championship, you could go a long way so all teams will definitely be eyeing up getting out of the group”.
Whether facing their toughest test first is a help or a hinderance will only be known on Saturday evening as O’Garney Park in Sixmilebridge hosts their bow against the Townies at 4.30pm.
“Éire Óg are the team in the group that would be considered top level. They’ve been knocking on the door over the past few years so I’m sure they’re determined to go that step further I would think. We’re just focusing on ourselves though, our own performance and style of play and we’ll reassess matters after the first game and take it from there.”
The Blues will have to do without captain John Feehily though as the midfielder suffered a broken thumb in their final Clare Cup outing but they can expect Colin Guilfoyle to return after suffering a freak cut in his hand that kept the county senior out of Clare’s championship plans.