Michael O’Connor was there to witness Clarecastle trump their neighbours Éire Óg in the U15A shield on a score of 2-19 to 2-18 (AET)
THERE are many club derbies in Clare GAA but none quite like when Clarecastle meet Éire Óg, with that passion evident once more on the line and the field on Monday evening for this Under 15A Shield Final in Clarecastle.
A strong first half showing by the visitors, without ever dominating the scoreboard, was counteracted by Clarecastle who grew incrementally in confidence with a number of stunning personal performances that ensured extra-time and a title clincher by Harry Doherty that will be remembered for some time by all that witnessed the winning score.
At the group stage the previous week, Éire Óg scored a double digit win over their hosts so the favourites tag was with the Townies from the throw-in. The game’s opening score fell to Marco Cleary while Evan Price equalised from a long range free soon after. Indeed one feature of the game was the superb long striking of both sides from frees with Evan Price and Rian Hickey to the fore.
Rian Mulcahy, Conor Perrill, Evan Price and Conor Ralph with scores left the sides deadlocked on (0-3) apiece before Darragh O’Callaghan goaled for the home side in what was a shock to the system for Éire Óg. Rian Hickey (two frees) and Evan Price left Clarecastle 1-4 to 0-5 clear at the water break.
Home goalkeeper Nick Roos denied the talismanic Hickey a goal opportunity either side of a point burst as Price, Hickey and Cian Nugent kept tagging on points. Indeed, the town side finished the second quarter on a positive note outscoring Clarecastle by 1-4 to 0-2 capped off by a 29th minute Roan McDermott goal. Hickey was on hand with four points as Harry Doherty was beginning to have an influence on the wing for Clarecastle as his side went in 1-11 to 1-07 in arrears at the interval.
When Conor Perrill raced through the Clarecastle defence for his side’s second goal on the restart to power six clear, the title appeared to be going up towards Clonroadmore. However, it wouldn’t quite work out that way as Clarecastle knuckled down with determination. Conor Ralph and Price hit back with points, with the former also having a goal ruled out for a square ball. Hickey and Price exchanged scores to leave Éire Óg 2-12 to 1-10 ahead entering the final quarter as the tempo, tackling and effort was rising markedly.
Between the 45th and 53rd minute, Éire Óg were held scoreless as Clarecastle took over the game in all aspects, tagging on 1-4, 1-3 if which stemmed from Evan Price while Luke Slattery was also on target to send Clarecastle two clear.
James O Dwyer responded for Éire Óg as now the Ennis boys were the ones chasing extra-time. Fittingly, Rian Hickey popped over a pressure free in injury-time to force more action as the light was declining at 2-14 apiece.
20 minutes of extra-time saw Clarecastle outscore Éire Óg by 0-5 to 0-4 in what was truly stunning hurling by both sides. No one displayed greater courage than Harry Doherty with two first half points while Hickey and Loftus kept Éire Óg in touch and when Hickey once more nudged his side ahead, it looked as if his side might hold out.
John Sweeney regained parity as did captain Price when Hickey answered the call again in the 78th minute. However, when the need was greatest, it was Harry Doherty that popped up with a 60 metre winner to send the home support into overdrive.
Overall, it must be noted that both sides had performances of the highest standard with some going above the norm to provide a derby to remember.
After the game, Vice Chairperson of Coiste na nÓg Iomaint Stephen McNamara presented the Under 15A shield to Clarecastle captain Evan Price.
Clarecastle: Nick Roos; Liam McNamara, Michael Sweeney, Donnacha Cassidy; Johnny Casey, Evan Price (1-12), Harry Doherty (0-3); Paul O’Connell, John Tuohy; Luke Slattery (0-1), Conor Ralph (0-2), Darragh O’Callaghan (1-0); Fionn O’Leary, John Sweeney (0-1), Martin Sweeney Subs: Liang Chen Yu for Cassidy, Sean McInerney for O’Leary, Gavin McEnery for M. Sweeney, O’Leary for McInerney, M Sweeney for O’Callaghan
Éire Óg: Sean Hennessy; Alex Nagle, Brian Kavanagh, Niall McMahon; Darren Moroney, Rian Mulcahy (0-1), Rian Clohessy; Conor Perrill (1-1), Essan Malek; Marco Cleary (0-1), Cian Nugent (0-1), Rian Hickey (0-12); Robert Loftus (0-1), James O’Dwyer (0-1), Roan McDermott (1-0) Subs: Luke Fitzgerald for Nugent, David Loftus for Cleary, Patrick Roche for Loftus, Luke Malice for Malek, Cormac Kennedy for Mulcahy. Loftus for O Dwyer, Cleary for Fitzgerald
Referee: Paul Howard (Ruan)