Clare IHC Semi-Final Preview: Tubber v St Joseph’s Doora Barefield
Two sides that have hit the crossbar in their promotion bids over recent years clash here for a spot in the 2020 decider.
If this year’s game produces even half as much drama as was witnessed when these two clashed 12 months ago, then it will be titanic battle on Friday evening.
The quarter-final stage was where they met in 2019, in a game that produced a total of 9-41 after a dramatic extra-time showdown which St Joseph’s edged 5-20 to 4-21.
It came after Tubber had reeled in a nine point deficit down the home straight of normal time, with St Joseph’s eventually coming through in the added period.
Both sides have arguably struggled for form early in this year’s championship but Tubber will have the bit between their teeth after racking up 5-14 in their quarter-final win over Sixmilebridge’s second outfit.
St Joseph’s have been laboured in a lot of their games so far and had to dig deep last time out to see off a spirited Bodyke challenge. That win came at a cost with Cathal Ruane’s red card ruling him out of Friday evening’s tie.
The Parish have match winners aplenty in the likes of Davy Conroy, Conor Tierney and Alan O’Neill, while Jarlath Colleran and Aaron Landy provide plenty power around the middle third. A positive for Seanie McMahon’s side is that they have been putting up solid scores in their games to date and have found at least one goal in each of their three championship games.
Tubber are backboned by the usual suspects with the Earley’s, Pat O’Connor, Ronan Taffe and Domhnall McMahon all key men for the North Clare side. Jonah Culligan and Ronan Monahan are central figures also, with Iarla Tannian’s outfit showing plenty scoring power with 8 goals in three championship games.
The clash of Pat O’Connor and Alan O’Neill on the edge of the square will be key, with O’Neill being the target man when the Parish go direct. Tubber will need to come up with a plan to curb Conroy’s influence in the middle third, with Monahan a likely candidate to pick up the former Munster intermediate player of the year.
It is a game that will be played to a result on the day and as demonstrated by previous encounters, it could well need more than the regulation 60 minutes to find a winner. Ruane’s loss will be felt by St Joseph’s and they will need to show significantly more than they have in previous games to make it back to the decider.
The concern for Tubber is that their only real test came against Inagh-Kilnamona in the second round, and while they passed it, there were signs that they could be vulnerable in defence. St Joseph’s have been consistently tested in their three games to date, with an average winning margin of five points in those encounters.
It won’t come easy, and could well need extra-time to decide it, but St Joseph’s might just edge another gripping contest.
Verdict: St Joseph’s