*Cratloe’s Conor McGrath. Photograph: Martin Connolly
A place in the quarter-finals of the Clare SHC will be the prize for the winners of the four ties taking place this weekend.
Cusack Park will host all third round games including a triple header on Saturday, Clare GAA TV will be streaming the meeting of Clooney/Quin and Feakle online.
First up at on Saturday, Newmarket-on-Fergus and Éire Óg face off. Both sides were happy when the draw was made and will fancy their chances of making the last eight. The Ennis club have showed the better form to date overcoming Kilmaley and losing out to Clonlara with Newmarket suffering a first round defeat to Feakle and then bouncing back against O’Callaghans Mills. This outing will be the toughest championship test thus far for the Blues while Éire Óg will be confident the environs of the county grounds will suit their key men, Shane O’Donnell and David Reidy.
After a very sluggish outing in the second round, Ballyea find themselves under pressure to deliver when they clash with Wolfe Tones. The teams last met in the 2017 first round where a goal from Tony Kelly proved influential in a 1-16 0-12 affair. Wolfe Tones have blown hot and cold this year and are capable of causing an upset, limiting the dominance of both Kelly and Niall Deasy will be their biggest test. Up front, Aron Shanagher will have to cause riot if the Tones are to prevail, that task won’t be easy as he will be tightly marshalled by Jack Browne.
One of Feakle’s strengths is their ability to use the smallest bit of ammunition to rile themselves up. In reality it was Clarecastle that relegated the East Clare side two years ago but it was their outing against Clooney/Quin that provides the most hurt. Feakle were in control for large spells but the tie went to extra time and it finished 0-22 0-14 in favour of a Peter Duggan inspired Clooney/Quin, they would go on to contest the county final with their opponents dropping down to intermediate. The form of either side has certainly been mixed, both have accurate free-takers who will punish any indiscipline, simply put whichever forward line does the most damage will be preparing for the quarter-finals.
Before a ball was hit in this year’s championship, Kilmaley were signalled out as the favourites to lift the Canon. The conclusion to the Clare Cup showed a well-drilled cohesive unit, however since then off the field behaviour akin to a sketch from D’Unbelievables has certainly left its mark on the panel, such wounds have not healed and may take some time to recover. This drama is a welcome tonic for Cratloe who disappointed in their second round defeat to Inagh/Kilnamona, Sean Collins is back in their lineup with Diarmuid Ryan very close to full fitness which is a big lift to their chances. This is the heavyweight tie of the round as both teams targeted the quarter-finals at the very least, Kilmaley were more inclined to blame the referee for last year’s semi-final defeat to Cratloe, now is their chance to set the record straight.
Four other clubs will be vying to retain their senior status on Saturday. Clarecastle meet Tulla with an East Clare derby pairing O’Callaghans Mills against Whitegate.
Quarter-final places are also on offer in the intermediate campaign with St Josephs Doora/Barefield, Parteen, Sixmilebridge and Inagh/Kilnamona tipped to make the last eight.
Clare SHC Round Three:
Newmarket-on-Fergus v Éire Óg in Cusack Park at 14:00
Ballyea v Wolfe Tones in Cusack Park at 15:45
Clooney/Quin v Feakle in Cusack Park at 17:30
Cratloe v Kilmaley in Cusack Park at 12:00
Clare SHC Relegation Semi-Finals
O’Callaghans Mills v Whitegate in Glenmora Park, Broadford at 15:00
Clarecastle v Tulla in O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge at 18:00
Clare IHC Round Three:
Inagh/Kilnamona v Cratloe in Fr Murphy Memorial Park, Newmarket-on-Fergus at 13:30
Parteen v Killanena in Dr Daly Park, Tulla at 14:30
Sixmilebridge v Corofin in Fr Murphy Memorial Park, Newmarket-on-Fergus at 15:00
St Josephs Doora/Barefield v Bodyke in Dr Daly Park, Tulla at 16:00
Clare IHC Relegation Semi-Finals:
Ruan v Éire Óg in Ballyea at 18:00
Newmarket-on-Fergus v Clarecastle in Shannon at 12:00