It was a weekend of mixed emotions for Clarecastle GAA followers. In their eagerly awaited senior hurling championship first round replay with Clonlara, they had to give best to the South Clare outfit at Cusack Park on Saturday.
A strong start by Clonlara put down a marker and while the eventual winners experienced some anxious moments in the opening ten minutes of the second half when the magpies rallies, there is no doubting the merit of their win.
First half goals from Darach Honan and Micheal O’Loughlin helped Clonlara to a ten point interval lead with the score at 2-9 to 0-5. A strong display by their half back trio of Neil Ryan and Oisin O’Brien on the wings and John Conlon in the centre laid the foundation for this win.
An early second half goal from Pakie Healy, back in the side following injury which had kept him out of the drawn game, sparked off a good spell for the magpies. When substitute Briain Lynch fired home their second goal in the ninth minute of the half, Clonlara followers were clearly worried.
However, the magpies failed to maintain this form and with John Conlon dominant at centre back, Clonlara hit back and, in the final quarter, outscored their opponents by 0-6 to 0-2 to seal a date with O’Callaghans Mills in round 2.
The weekend had got off to a great start for Clarecastle who, at county headquarters on Friday evening, scored a runaway win over a fancied Broadford side in the under 14 A championship final.
The East Clare outfit who have assistance from Smith O’Briens struggled from the start and when the final whistle sounded the magpies were 6-12 to 1-3 ahead which confirms that the future of the club is on a sound footing.
Meanwhile, the race for the Clare Champion cup (senior hurling league) continued with round 7 games. Sixmilebridge continue to lead the way as they recorded their seventh win from seven starts when overcoming Feakle at the latter’s venue.
Title holders Cratloe gave their hopes of avoiding relegation a boost with a merited nine point win over Inagh-Kilnamona while O’Callaghans Mills recorded a big win over a fancied Newmarket side.
In division 1 B, Tulla made the short journey to Gurteen and accounted for St. Josephs while Whitegate kept up their strong challenge for a place in the play offs with a good win over Wolfe Tones.
In division 2, Ballyea moved into joint second spot when beating Ruan whom they now share that position with
A last minute goal from the penalty spot has saved Kilrush’ division 2 football status for next season. That goal helped them to a one point win, 1-12 to 0-14, over Shannon Gaels who now join Kildysart in making the drop to division 3 for next season. The Gaels needed to win to keep their hopes of surviving in the division alive
By Seamus Hayes