Photograph: Burren Eye Photography
Only ten candidates remain in the hunt for Under 15 Hurling Championship silverware after the semi-final pairings for the B and C competitions were confirmed this week.
The eagerly-anticipated Under 15A decider between Inagh-Kilnamona and Sixmilebridge is pencilled in for Cusack Park next Monday at 7pm but the separation of the B and C contenders meant the the quarter-finals only took place on Monday and Tuesday evening.
In the last eight of the Under 15B on Bank Holiday Monday, a late goal in each half ensured that Kilmaley maintained their unblemished record with a 2-15 to 0-13 victory over Cratloe to advance to Sunday’s semi-final in Crusheen (6pm) where they will face Newmarket-on-Fergus who, 24 hours later, shared eleven goals with Whitegate before emerging 6-15 to 5-05 winners on home soil.
Two goals apiece for Tristan Cullinan and Michael Power secured a 4-7 to 2-4 half-time cushion for the Blues before another from Sean Arthur fended off an inevitable Whitegate backlash on the resumption.
The other semi-final between Ballyea and Clooney-Quin in Clarecastle also takes place on Sunday evening at 6pm. In contrasting quarter-finals, Ballyea had a tense wrestle for supremacy while a devastating first half display saw Clooney-Quin build up an unassailable half-time cushion on Monday evening.
Eoin Kennedy and Kyle Tuohy’s scoring duel was to the fore as Ballyea and O’Callaghan’s Mills/Bodyke went blow-for-blow throughout, with the sides level nine times by the 42nd minute before hosts Ballyea finally pulled away late on to win by 0-16 to 0-12.
A Sean Boyce inspired O’Callaghan’s Mills/Bodyke will rue missed chances but a more clinical Ballyea, despite being reduced to 14 entering the final ten minutes, finished with the last three points through the Kennedy brothers Eoin (2) and Dara.
Meanwhile in Clooney, impressive displays from adventurous wing-back Conor McCarthy and the attacking triumvirate of Sean McNamara, Daire White and PJ McCarthy ensured that Clooney-Quin hit the ground sprinting to race to a 19 point half-time lead. Far from dropping their heads however, Scariff-Ogonnelloe would rally in a much more even second period, with goals from Colin O’Grady and Luke Madden providing some encouragement for the Group 2 runners-up in a 4-26 to 2-10 final scoreline.
In the Under 15C Quarter-Finals, Smith O’Brien’s prevailed by 5-11 to 0-17 in their South East Clare derby with Parteen while it was equally as high-scoring in Ennistymon as the hosts would be turned over in spectacular fashion by a resurgent Banner to take a 5-16 to 3-12 win, having found themselves 11 in arrears at one stage.
On Sunday, favourites Wolfe Tones take on Smith O’Brien’s in the first Under 15C Semi-Final in Kilkishen at 6pm while in Kilmaley on Monday evening (7pm), Crusheen/Tubber face-off with Banner.
The penultimate stage of the Under 15B Shield and Academy A and B competitions also take place over the next four days.