Clare Minor A Football Final: Ennistymon 3-6 Corofin 0-5
It was retribution and local bragging rights that Ennistymon went in search of in Doonbeg, and they left with both after a strong second-half performance saw them crowned champions.
The last two years have seen the North Clare magpies pipped at the post in the decider, but leaders emerged all over the field to ensure the Paddy Hennessey cup would be making its way to the famed market town on Saturday evening.
Leaders were required on an afternoon where weather conditions were far from ideal, with a strong swirling wind blowing away from the scoreboard end being accompanied by heavy misty rain. It meant handling conditions were difficult while kicking was akin to a lottery.
Both sides were stacked full of county minor stars in both codes, but the conditions combined with the nerves which accompany any major final were evident early on as the opening quarter of the contest passed without a score. Ennistymon had the aid of the breeze in the first half and were guilty of wasting some good scoring opportunities. Corofin’s defensive set-up meant they were limited to shooting from distance while the aforementioned handling errors led to numerous turnovers on both sides.
The deadlock was finally broken just after the opening quarter had passed with Killian O’Connor arrowing over a brilliant score from the right wing into the teeth of the breeze. Corofin were making the most of their time in possession with Robin Mounsey, Diarmaid Cahill and Cillian McGroary all prominent in the early stages. Cahill doubled their advantage with a free with a free soon after, but when Ennistymon finally sparked into life, they rattled off 1-4 without reply to take control of the contest entering the final quarter.
Kealan Guyler finished as the top scorer with 2-3 to his name, and his three pointed frees in as many minutes put Ennistymon into a lead that they would never relinquish. They had struggled to make any real inroads in the middle third of the field but the move of Daragh Conneely to a more advanced position reaped rewards as his presence for kickouts in particular led to his side getting on top. They almost had the perfect end to the half when Diarmuid Fahy raced through but saw his rising shot clear the crossbar to leave Ennistymon 0-4 to 0-2 ahead at the break but with the breeze to be in their faces after the restart.
On a day when scores and scoring chances were at a premium, goals were always going be worth more than their three point total on the board. With that in mind, Ennistymon exploded out of the traps in the second half and had the ball in the net inside the opening two minutes. It was a goal that had more than a touch of fortune about it, as Corofin failed to clear their lines at the first time of asking with Cillian Rouine punishing them as he slotted home a cool finish from close range.
The next score was always going to be crucial and Corofin battled back into the contest with a tidy free from Robin Mounsey along with a snappy effort from Cahill reduced the arrears to just three points as the final quarter began. A crucial moment arrived when a perceptive interception from Ciaran McMahon broke up a promising Corofin attack that looked destined to end with a levelling goal.
The trend of the opening period repeated itself somewhat as Ennistymon reeled off 1-2 unanswered to end any hopes of a comeback from their neighbours. It could have been much worse for Corofin, as substitute goalkeeper Eoin Fitzgerald pulled off a brilliant diving save to deny Eoin Rouine, while just moments later he saw another effort just flash past the post. Eoin Rouine was prominent throughout the second period as his willingness to battle for possession was central to his sides dominance.
The warning signs were there when Rouine broke through once more before opting to take the point while the ultimate punishment arrived when Guyler was on hand to apply the finish following a well worked Ennistymon move. The lively Diarmuid Fahy sent over a free and with five minutes to go, Ennistymon led 2-6 to 0-4.
Corofin were bidding to put the football title alongside the minor crown in 2019, and kept battling right to the end. O’Connor was unlucky not to find the net as his shot from a tight angle flashed across the goal late on.
Mounsey did cut the gap with a free but Guyler was on hand once more to put the icing on the cake as he slammed home from close range to put the result beyond any doubt.
Ennistymon: Connor Gallagher; Ciaran McMahon, Darragh Conneely, Dara Rouine; James Kivlehan, John Murphy, Joshua Guyler; Eoin Rouine, Brendan Rouine; Conner Hegarty, Cillian Rouine, Ryan Barry; Diarmuid Fahy, Colm Kearney, Kealan Guyler.
Subs: Brian McNamara for Kivlehan, Daniel Rynne for Barry, Darren McNamara for Kearney, James Ahern for Kealan Guyler.
Scorers: Kealan Guyler (2-3, 3f), Cillian Rouine (1-0), Diarmuid Fahy (0-2, 1f), Eoin Rouine (0-1).
Corofin: Luke Neylon; Mark O’Loughlin, Cillian McGroary, Gearoid Hanrahan; Cian O’Loughlin, Conor Leen, Cian Doolin; Robin Mounsey, Sean McNamara; Killian O’Connor, Diarmaid Cahill, Shane O’Brien; Josh Ryan, Kevin Keane, Joey Droney.
Subs: Eoin Fitzgerald for Neylon (inj), Niall Hegarty for O’Loughlin, Ashley Brohan for O’Brien, Declan Brennan for Droney.
Scorers: Robin Mounsey (0-2, 2f), Diarmaid Cahill (0-2, 1f), Killian O’Connor (0-1).
Ref: Niall Quinn (St Joseph’s Miltown).