*David McNamara holds off Denis O’Callaghan. Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
With the opening rounds of the Clare senior football championship just a month away, this weekend’s league finals will give clubs a better indication of where they are in terms of preparation for the Jack Daly.
North Clare neighbours St. Breckans and Ennistymon meet in this Friday evening (throw in at 7p.m.) in the senior league final for the Future Ticketing Cusack Cup.
Both have been knocking on the door for championship honours in recent times with Ennistymon losing last year’s decider to Éire Óg and Breckans pushing strongly since winning the intermediate championship in 2019.
St. Breckans go into this Friday’s final as Cusack Cup holders having ended a long period without silverware at senior level when they beat Kildysart in the final last year.
Ennistymon go into this Friday’s final chasing their first success at this level and all the indications are that patrons will witness a closely fought contest.
When they met in round 6 of the competition six weeks ago, St. Breckans emerged with one point to spare, 1-8 to 0-10.
Lisdoonvarna outfit St. Breckans struggled a little at the start of this campaign but since then the Declan O’Keeffe coached outfit have improved steadily and topped the group at the end of the seven game league programme which put them directly into this Friday’s final.
Ennistymon also showed mixed form in the early part of this campaign winning just one of their opening three games. They finished in third spot after the seven game programme which earned them an away semi-final against Clondegad who had led the way for much of the campaign. The Ennistymon men gave arguably their best display to date when comfortably defeating Clondegad in the semi-final.
They go into this Friday’s final without a number of players who were regulars in their championship team last season. Brendy Rouine, Diarmuid Fahy, Tiernan Hogan, David McNamara, Ciaran Devitt and Dara Conneally are all on the injured list while David Fitzgerald and Cathal Malone are key players in the Clare senior hurling team which will face Kilkenny in the All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday.
Last year’s captain Dale Masterson has not been in the St. Breckans squad this season due to a leg injury which required surgery. Tristan O’Callaghan, goalkeeper in last year’s final, Micheal and Ciaran Flanagan, and Aiden Davidson are in Australia and not part of this year’s squad while two of the key players on the way to this final, Jack Sheedy and Padraig Kelly will miss Friday’s final as they are currently in the U.S. but both are expected to be back for the championship.
It’s a difficult one to call but the absence of Sheedy and Kelly from the St. Breckans line up may give a slight advantage to Ennistymon.
Garry Cup final:
The division 2 league final for the Garry Cup will take place on Tuesday evening next at Cooraclare (7p.m.) where St Joseph’s Miltown and St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield will do battle for the trophy which commemorates former Cooraclare and Clare great, the late Michael Garry.
With promotion to division 1 for next season already secured, both sides will be keen to finish this campaign with silverware.
They met in the final round of the league when the Doora/Barefield side recorded a five point win (2-10 to 1-8). Miltown went into that game with maximum points, having already qualified for the final and with promotion secured.
They will be keen to reverse the result from just over a month ago but they may have to line out without Clare captain Eoin Cleary who is on the injured list at present. They will be looking to the experienced Gordon Kelly, Seanie Malone, Darragh McDonagh and Cormac Murray to mention a few while Doora/Barefield will look to Tom McDonald, Joe Raftery, Jack Hannan and James Curran to give them a grip on proceedings.