Crusheen, Clonlara and Kilmaley booked their tickets to the semi-finals of the Clare senior hurling championship at Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon with victories over Clooney-Quin, Newmarket and Ballyea respectively.
Overall the standard of play was disappointing with most of the excitement generated in the clash of Kilmaley and Ballyea which required extra time. From an early stage it was clear that there would be little between these neighbours. Kilmaley had marginally the better of the first half and were deserving of their four point interval lead, 1-9 to 0-8, with the goal coming from Michael O’Neill.
Ten minutes from the end Tony Kelly converted a penalty awarded for a foul on substitute David Egan and from here to the final whistle, extra time looked likely. Tony Kelly pointed Ballyea into the lead in the final minute of normal time but Cian Moloney levelled in the second minute of ‘injury time’ to leave the sides at 1-13 each when Rory Hickey sounded the final whistle.
As the first period of extra time drew to a close, David Egan goaled for Ballyea to give his side a two point lead and this was still the position as the game entered the final minute of the extra period. with just seconds remaining Eamonn Bracken broke Ballyea hearts when he fired home what proved to be the winning score giving Kilmaley a 2-18 to 2-17 victory.
In the opening game Crusheen were always in control against Clooney-Quin andwon on a scoreline f 1-17 to 1-12. Gearoid O’Donnel was their goalscorer and they led by six, 1-9 to 0-6, at half time. When Peter Duggan converted a penalty two minutes from the end, the margin was down to two but Crusheen responded strongly with points from Darragh O’Doherty and Pat Vaughan to seal victory.
Clonlara and Newmarket were level at 0-7 each at the end of the first half in their clash at headquarters but Clonlara went on to take control after the break. On an evening when the Newmarket forward line struggled for scores, Clonlara held sqay in the key areas throughout the second half and were full value for their nine point victory.
Meanwhile Clarecastle sealed their senior status for next season with a 1-19 to 0-14 over Tubber at Tulla.
Inagh-Kilnamona qualified for the senior B championship final with a two point win over Tulla and they now await the winners of the Eire Og v O’C. Mills clash next week in the final.
The way is clear for the semi-finals of the intermediate championship and last year’s beaten finalists, Parteen, won’t be there. They lost out to Sixmilebridge at Clonlara on Saturday evening (1-13 to 0-18). Broadford were first into the semi-finals when they were 2-20 to 2-14 winners over Clarecastle on Friday evening and they will now play Sixmilebridge in the semi-final
In the other semi-final, Smith O’Briens, Killaloe, thanks to an eight point win over Scariff (1-17 tio 1-9) will play Wolfe Tones after the Shannon men were easy 3-14 to 0-6 winners over Corofin.
Cratloe have ensured their intermediate status for 2016 thanks to a comfortable 2-19 to 1-9 win over Crusheen in a replay. Crusheen now play Ogonnelloe to determine which one will drop down to junior A for next season.
By Seamus Hayes