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Grasping for purchase: Clondegad and Miltown will have sighters of championship opponents Doonbeg and Éire Óg respectively this Bank Holiday Monday. Photograph by John Kelly

Battle of senior champs imminent in Clare football league

With Cooraclare having shaded the verdict over Kilrush by a point on Friday evening, Eoin Brennan previews the rest of the Cusack and Garry Cup action which takes place tomorrow

Cusack Cup Round 4
Ennistymon v Kilmurry Ibrickane at Ennistymon, Monday 11.30am (Jim Hickey, Cratloe)

Fresh from Monday’s, sorry Tuesday’s senior football championship draw, Group 3 comes into sharp focus on Monday when first Ennistymon host last year’s finalists Kilmurry Ibrickane while Clondegad travel to Doonbeg.
Of course, without their county contingents, it’s not a true barometer but it’s still adds bite to an already significant fixture as Ennistymon require a third victory to keep in touch for the knock-out places while the ‘Bricks, eight-in-a-row Cusack Cup champions as recently as 2018, are scrambling to avoid relegation alongside county champions Éire Óg.

Doonbeg v Clondegad at Shanahan McNamara Memorial Park Doonbeg, Monday 2pm (John O’Connell, Cooraclare)
Another Group 3 sighter for the summer but hopefully these next two clashes surpass the underwhelming 2021 championship opener between the sides.

Let’s be honest, they couldn’t be worse as while Doonbeg eventually edged matters by 0-9 to 0-6, there must have been supporters tearing their hair out on both sides of the divide.

It seems that Doonbeg and Clondegad were destined to clash once more as they were pooled together in both senior draws this week. Doonbeg are still unbeaten and will be determined to maintain that start but Clondegad will undoubtedly be seeking a pre-championship edge.

St Joseph’s Miltown v Éire Óg at Hennessy Memorial Park Miltown Malbay, Monday 3pm (Jim Hickey, Cratloe)
Another championship group marker that in years past would have been postponed this weekend in order to not show their hands and therefore double up in their Jack Daly meeting.

The fact that these kingpins are destined to also meet in the opening round of the senior championship makes this more much juicy than initially anticipated as let’s be honest, without their county contingents, neither have pulled up any trees in the Cusack Cup so far.

Consequently, it’s a battle of the county champions against the Cusack Cup champions in name only but as a stand-alone relegation four pointer, it should pack a punch regardless of personnel.

St Breckan’s v Kildysart at Lisdoonvarna, Monday 3pm (Barry Kelly, St Joseph’s Miltown)
The only non-championship guide is in Lisdoonvarna albeit that the sides do have championship history, having played out an inch-tight intermediate decider in 2019.

St Breckan’s edged that day and haven’t looked back since whereas Kildysart have remained stranded in the second tier despite having everything in the locker to be able to impact the senior grade.

Kildysart already exacted some revenge when capping off 2021 with an O’Gorman Cup Final victory over St Breckan’s by 1-7 to 0-7 in December but with this being a top of the table clash in the prestigious Cusack Cup, it could well be the match-up of the entire weekend.

Garry Cup, Round 4
O’Curry’s v St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield at Doonaha, Monday 2pm (Michael Talty, Kilmurry Ibrickane)
It’s a promotion battle that perhaps wasn’t initially expected as with the sides having contrasting numbers in their clubs, table-toppers St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield will be expected to make a major impact in this year’s senior championship whereas a rather threadbare O’Curry’s, along with their intermediate bid, will be hoping to be competitive as part of a peninsula senior amalgamation with Naomh Eoin and St Senan’s Kilkee. Home advantage should aid the O’Curry’s challenge but the Parish will be expected to maintain their perfect start.

Lissycasey v Corofin at Lissycasey, Monday 2pm (Fearghal Gray, Feakle)
Another significant fixture in the race for the top two spots that sees defending Garry Cup champions Lissycasey host the intermediate champions.

Corofin have been embroiled in what has been regarded as the group of death in the upcoming senior version when pooled with county champions Éire Óg, last year’s semi-finalists St Breckan’s and 2018/19 champions St Joseph’s Miltown.

However, Lissycasey’s group is arguably more difficult to negotiate so it’s effectively time to start shining.

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