Whitegate’s one point win over Cratloe in the opening round of the Clare senior hurling championship is the big talking point in Clare hurling circles this Saturday evening.
While there was speculation in the lead up to the tie, played at Dr, Daly park in Tulla, as to how it might go, Cratloe remained the favourites to get their campaign off to a wining start.
Substitute Eoin Patterson proved to be the East Clare side’s hero as he struck for their fourth goal which came at the death. Cratloe started well and held an early four point lead but then Whitegate got the upperhand and when the half time whistle sounded they were 3-5 to 0-9 in front.
The teams exchanged points on a number of occasions in the third quarter before Cratloe battled back and edged into the lead after some good scores from Shane Gleeson, Conor McGrath and Podge Collins. They looked to have secured victory until Patterson got a touch to a long range delivery from inter county man Brendan Bugler for the vital goal.
Feakle started impressively in their first round clash with Clonlara at Sixmilebridge but last year’s beaten finalists hit back in the second quarter and when the half time whistle sounded they were seven points ahead, 2-9 to 0-8. They went on to emerge with a two goal win, 2-16 to 0-16.
In the first of three games at Cusack Park, Newmarket managed a narrow win over their neighbours Clooney-Quin, winning by three points, 1-16 to 1-13.
Helped by a goal from Cillian Duggan, Clooney-Quon led by the minimum margin at the interval, 1-6 to 0-8
A blistering start to the second half which yielded 1-3 inside five minutes saw the winners get ahead and laid the foundations for their win on a day when team captain Colin Ryan hit 1-9 of their final tally.
Another tight game followed when Inagh-Kilnamona and Crusheen clashed and the result of this one was in doubt for much of the tie
A fortunate goal on the stroke of half time gave Inagh-Kilnamona a 1-6 to 0-6 interval lead. Evan McNamara’s sideline ‘cut’ from 45m caused problems for the Crusheen defence and as David Fitzgerald and Gerry O’Grady tussled for possession the ball was adjudged to have crossed the goal line before Donal Tuohy flicked it clear.
Three minutes into the second half David Fitzgerald raced through to give Tuohy no chance fronm close range and a brace of points from Conor Tierney pushed the Inagh-Kilnamona men eight points clear.
A penalty goal from Donal Tuohy at the mid point of the half kept Crusheen in touch but Cian Dillon’s goal in the third minute of ‘injury time’ came too late to prevent Inagh-Kilnamona from opening their campaign with a win on a final scxoreline of 2-12 to 2-10.
Sixmilebridge went into the third game in the Cusack park triple header as hot favourites to account for a Clarecastle side whose preparations were interupted due a lot of injury problems. The early exchanges were evenly contested and a Bobby Duggan goal for the magpies had the teams level, 1-4 to 0-7, after twenty two minutes. From here on Sixmilebridge were in control and goals from Shane Golden and blood substitute Gavin Whyte left them 2-13 to 1-6 in front at the break.
They continued to hold the upperhand in the second half and at the turn of .the final quarter they introduced veteran Niall Gilligan and the All-Ireland medal winner with Clare from 1997 signalled his arrival in this his 23rd season playing senior club hurling with a point five minutes from time as the ‘Bridge ran out 3-25 to 1-11 winners.
Two first round games in the intermediate championship were played this evening. Scariff were 3-10 to 0-15 winners over Tubber while Corofin got their campaign off to a good start with an 0-15 to 0-8 victory over Killanena.
There will be three more senior first round games and a further six intermediate first rounds this Sunday.
By Seamus Hayes