By Seamus Hayes
Clare senior hurling champions Newmarket are one game away from retaining the Canon Hamilton trophy. Before a big attendance at Clarecastle—the game was transferred from Cusack Park following heavy overnight rain on Saturday night —they had to pull out all the stops to overcome Ballyea in a hard fought contest.
At the end of the opening half the teams were level at 0-6 to 1-3 with the game’s only goal coming in the twenty first minute when Gary Brennan turned a Paul Flanagan delivery into the Newmarket net.
Newmarket’s greater experience came to the fore in the second half and within a minute of the resumption they had taken a two point lead and they remained in front from here to the end. Clare’s top scorer in 2013 was to the fore for the Blues, hitting o-8, all from frees.
Shane O’Brien senior who, along with Ronan Goode, helped Doonbeg progress to the senior football semi-final on the previous day, finished strongly with O’Brien scoring three points in succession while cork native Goode chipped in with a brace.
The title holders will play their neighbours Sixmilebridge in the final on Sunday next.
Meanwhile, East Clare neighbours Scariff and Smith O’Briens will have to do it all again after playing a 0-15 each draw in their senior B relegation play off at Ogonnelloe.
Killanena have secured their intermediate status for 2014 thanks to a two goal win over Ennistymon in a replay at Ruan. The North Clare club has one more chance to hold onto their place in the intermediate ranks. They play Crusheen this coming weekend with the losers dropping to the junior A grade for next season.