*Daniel Treacy and Mikey O’Shea battle for possession. Photograph: Gary Collins
AN EAST CLARE bloodbath is on the cards for the relegation play-offs in the Clare SHC.
Scariff, Whitegate and Smith O’Briens will be contesting the dreaded relegation battle with the final spot to be filled by the losers of Broadford versus Clarecastle.
Should Broadford lose to the Magpies it will mean the intermediate winners of 2019, 2020 and 2021 are all embroiled in a battle to retain their senior status. Two of the four teams will be relegated from the top tier.
Whitegate have to face Feakle in the final round before they focus fully on survival, manager Terence Fahy outlined. “We’ve a match in two weeks time to finish out the group, that’s where our focus will be, try and get a few bodies back for it and see what way bodies are for it, we’ve a championship match in two weeks time that we’ll have to see out our group of five and that is where our focus will be. Of course, we’re in the relegation situation and we’re aware of that and we’ll deal with the fence in front of us”.
Speaking to The Clare Echo following their 3-26 0-20 defeat to Sixmilebridge, the Clare U20 manager said, “We got a fair lesson from Sixmilebridge today, we came down to win the match, they were far better than us and we had no answer to them in the second half, we were in a low spot
at half time and in fairness to our lads they came out and rallied well in the second half, we got a few scores and left a few behind, same as Sixmilebridge, we missed a lot in the second half as did Sixmilebridge and we just came up against a clinical very good Bridge team on the day and we had no answer to them”.
Character of his charges has never been questioned and it wasn’t when they trailed by seventeen points at half-time. “We talk plain and simple, the message was just to be better in the second half and the lads were a little bit better in fairness to them. They didn’t hang their heads and they don’t feel sorry for themselves and they just go back at it. They’re a very good group, they’ve been through a lot and they don’t feel sorry for themselves, that didn’t change at half-time in that match”.
For Smith O’Briens, there was a sense of frustration that they failed to reproduce their battling second round display when they lost by double scores to Crusheen. “We knew coming into today that it was going to be a battle. We are just disappointed that we never got to the level of performance we reached against Inagh/Kilnamona. It was always going to be a tough group with quality sides in it. Credit to Crusheen though who were powerful there today. Their leaders especially Cian Dillon caused us huge problems and let’s be honest about it Cian Dillon has marked some of the best hurlers in the country for years with Clare and all that big game experience showed,” selector Brendan Foley commented.
Foley predicted the relegation play-offs would be “like a mini East Clare championship and that’ll bring with it its own difficulties as there’s a huge chance it’ll be a derby game to decide our fate”. He added, “They knew how to manage the game and when we shot within reach they’d slow it down and always came up with the next score. We missed chances at crucial stages and we now face into the mother of all battles if we are to retain our senior status”.
Having Cathal Stritch and Mikey Gough back in action is a welcome relief for the Killaloe side. “On the positive side we got hurling into Cathal Stritch and Mikey Gough which is great as we will need everybody in four weeks time. It’ll be a monumental task but we have to regroup and knuckle down. It’s massively important that we stay a senior club and we will give everything we can in order to do so”.
Scariff put up a strong showing in their final round loss to Kilmaley which has them in a positive mood, manager Mark McKenna believed. “We’d have to be very proud of our lads, we are only in place to progress those hurlers and make them better and the club stronger, I think we achieved some of that in a very tough group. We played Division 2 hurling, they won the Clare Cup, we were up against formidable opposition today, we knew that and we knew what it would take and I think our lads stood up marvellously. You’d have to be very proud, our lads will learn from it”.
“Killaloe, Whitegate and ourselves are in it, they are intermediate finals in themselves. We said we’d let the boys go away and think about those three matches, go back next weekend and face that challenge. If we come out of that, we will be happy enough,” Mark continued.
Once again the battle of midfielder Eoghan O’Grady who remains in hospital following an accident on a tractor dominated the thoughts of his Scariff teammates. “He has a different fight on his hands, we’re thinking of him, we were hoping we would give him some bit of a lift this evening but maybe he’ll get a lift when he hears the performance was top class. He was listening in on the reports coming in, he was well enough to do that today. This is game of hurling that we love and we play as best we can, results go with you and against you but that is a different fight, we have to be strong with him and help him through it”.
Speaking on Scariff Bay Community Radio following the clash of Kilmaley and Scariff which confirmed that three East Clare sides would be fighting to retain their status, Broadford’s Danny Chaplin quipped that they may follow the example set by Crusheen last season. “They are the big games and the games nobody wants to be in, they are going to be two massive games, if Broadford are in it and I hope for obvious reasons they are not then you will have four East Clare teams. If we could find someone like Pat O’Donnell to fund the excursions in Munster Council”.