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*Brendan Foley. Photograph: Ruth Griffin

CAUSING THE biggest upsets in this year’s Clare SHC is what Smith O’Briens and Clooney/Quin have been training for.

Reigning intermediate champions, Smith O’Briens collected their first win at senior level since their relegation in 2013 when recording a one point victory at the expense of last year’s beaten finalists Inagh/Kilnamona on Saturday.

Brendan Foley formerly lined out for the Killaloe club at senior level and is currently a selector of the East Clare outfit. He was a happy figure in the aftermath of their surprise success at the weekend.

He told The Clare Echo, “This is what we train for. We knew there was a performance in these lads, we felt disappointed coming out of the dressing room after the Wolfe Tones game. We felt we were in it at half time but we didn’t perform in the second half and all we asked today was for the lads to give us a 60 minute display and that’s what they gave us. There was a concern about the missed chances in the first half but we were happy that we were creating the chances, we were in the game”.

It finished 2-15 0-20 in their favour and the current Clare senior camogie selector was adamant they deserved the result. “We are only after coming up from intermediate and we are not supposed to be competing at the top table at all. We said we wanted to be here and we asked the lads to keep going. We missed more scores in the second half. This was a well deserved win. A one point win often flatters a team but we deserved this win today”.

Eugene Cullinan felt his Inagh/Kilnamona side didn’t match Smith O’Brien’s when it came to hunger. “They definitely showed greater hunger and they deserved their victory in fairness to them. They worked very hard, they had a good system and they played it well. They took their scores and good luck to them”.

Half of their 0-20 tally came from placed balls with Aidan McCarthy accounting for 75 percent of their scores. This was a factor in putting them in a ‘do or die’ final round game against Wolfe Tones, the former Inamona wing forward believed. “We just didn’t get our spread of scorers today that we had got against Crusheen and maybe last year and sometimes they just don’t go over for you. We have to take it on the chin now. We are still in the championship, it’s a knock out game for us now against Wolfe Tones, do or die”.

Another of the big upsets from the weekend was Clooney/Quin’s comprehensive fourteen point win against Kilmaley. Winning manager, Tommy Corbett was very pleased to see his side pick up a successive victory.

Corbett stated, “Things worked out in our favour. We knew coming into the game that Kilmaley had a very good game against Éire Óg and maybe they took the eye off the ball a little bit. They had a little bit of disruption during the week and that probably played into our hands a little bit. We are just delighted. Our lads went out and performed exactly the way we wanted them to perform, fought for every ball and that’s all we asked for. We are just delighted with the result”.

Senior hurling has not fazed his young charges to date. “A lot of the players might be new to senior hurling but most of them have played A and won county titles at 14 and 16. Coming to Cusack Park doesn’t faze these guys. They are a great bunch to deal with”.

Shane Harrison is tackled by Colin McGuane. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

A former senior hurler and manager of Éire Óg, Corbett’s side need to beat the Ennis club to seal their quarter-final place, a result which would likely eliminate his native club from the race for the Canon Hamilton. “It was always going to come down to the last game. We have a body of work to do now before we meet Éire Óg in two weeks time. We look forward to the next challenge. I had the pleasure of working with most of them at Éire Óg a few years ago, good guys. I know the challenge that is ahead of us, we won’t stand back. We look forward to it”.

Kilmaley manager, Conor Clancy felt they had a task on their hands to pick themselves up from the manner of their fourteen point loss in time for their last round clash with Scariff. “It was a disappointing performance from us; There are no complaints from us, we were outplayed all the way through. Clooney/Quin were much better on the day and deserved the result. The group was always going to be tight and it’s going to be difficult to come back from a performance like that. We have a good bit of work to do. The next round is critically important for us. It’s a must win game. We never got to the pace of the game today. We are really disappointed with how we hurled today. We will re-group and give it a lash the next day”.

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