CLOONEY-Quin’s ability to score goals, allied with Kilfenora’s amiable tendency to concede them, decided last Monday’s junior A football final in Miltown.
It’s very likely that were it not for the goals netted by Ciarán Quinn, Fergal Lynch and Cathal Egan, Kilfenora would have outscored their mid-Clare opponents and would be an intermediate club this week.
That said Kilfenora’s habit of overplaying the ball and not releasing it quickly enough, didn’t help them and decidedly aided Clooney.
Furthermore, Clooney’s decision to take Cillian Duggan from centre-forward and post him at midfield, paid dividends and helped the winners to establish a grip in the sector, when it appeared that the game was slipping from their grasp during the second period.
Kilfenora led 0-6 to 1-2 at half-time, having appeared to have played with the help of a very strong, swirling wind. Who it favoured was debatable but it seemed to help the team playing into the scoreboard end in Miltown.
Aidan Malone sliced over the opening point for the North Clare team, with the outside of his right foot, while Pat Connole twice and Austin Kelly kicked equally impressive scores from play.
Killian Malone, who scored seven frees in total, kicked two first-half frees, the first of which was an example of intelligent use of the wind. The free seemed to be heading well wide before the wind brought it back in and over the bar.
Fergal Lynch, who later picked up an ankle injury and was moved to full-forward, pointed Clooney’s opening score after good work from Martin McInerney, while John Earls kicked their remaining first-half point from an injury-time free.
Ciarán Quinn, who had to be helped off shortly afterwards, flicked Clooney’s first-half goal beyond Liam Keane, after Ryan O’Neill and Cillian Duggan had combined to set up the score.
Much of the first period and indeed the second was marked by both teams kicking away possession. The wind was a factor but it can’t be entirely blamed for the poor kicking.
Kilfenora, who shot four first-half wides, kicked two more in the opening four minutes of the second half. They were punished when first-half substitute Cathal Egan goaled after a Martin McInerney 45’ had dropped short. Now 2-2 to 0-6 up, Clooney were soon six points ahead as Lynch netted, while Shane McNamara and Ryan O’Neill kicked points.
Killian Malone had kicked a free in the ninth minute but come the 23rd minute, Kilfenora had yet to add another score and were 3-4 to 0-7 down.
Led by Killian Malone, however, who won four of the five second-half frees which he pointed, Kilfenora fought back. In fact, they outscored Clooney 0-4 to 0-1 in the closing six minutes.
A minute from full-time, Malone’s four pointed frees, had dragged his side to within two points, 3-4 to 0-11, of the winners. Fergal Lynch though ended Kilfenora’s slim hopes of scoring a late-winning goal, when he fired over from play, three minutes into injury time.
While some of the football wasn’t great, a number of players showed plenty of ability and fight.
Shane McNamara had a great first half for Clooney, while Charlie O’Loughlin was solid throughout. Fergal Lynch scored 1-2, although he wasn’t as involved as much after the early ankle injury. Cillian Duggan came into the game when Clooney needed him in the second half, while Ciarán Quinn, until injured, and Ryan O’Neill played well for the winners, who last won the Junior A title in 2004.
Liam Keane’s kick-outs were generally good for Kilfenora and he saved well from Ryan O’Neill, 10 minutes before half-time. Liam O’ Brien battled hard in midfield, while Killian and Aidan Malone, along with Pat Connole and Paul Reddan did their best up front.
What didn’t help Kilfenora, however, was the manner in which the held up the play too much before often releasing the ball to either a team-mate who was marked, to a Clooney man or worse, out over the end line.
Clooney will be back in action on November 22 when they play Castlegregory in Kerry in the Munster junior championship semi-final. The Kerry men were in Miltown last Monday to see what they’ll be facing. They won’t be tossing and turning much on the evidence of what they saw.
Clooney-Quin: Brian Kennedy, David Kennedy, Charlie O’Loughlin, Shane McNamara; Mike McNamara, Fergal Doyle, Dara Hannon; Martin McInerney and Fergal Lynch; John Vaughan, Cillian Duggan, John Earls; Ryan O’Neill, Pat Gardiner (captain), Ciarán Quinn.
Subs: Cathal Egan for Ciarán Quinn (injured), Seán Conheady for John Vaughan, Ger Leamy for David Kennedy and Conor Harrison for Dara Hannon.
Scorers: Fergal Lynch 1-2, Ciarán Quinn and Cathal Egan 1-0 each, John Earls (f), Shane McNamara and Ryan O’Neill 0-1 each.
Wides: 7; Frees won: 27; 45s: 4.
Yellow cards: Shane McNamara, Dara Hannon, Mike McNamara and Fergal Lynch.
Kilfenora: Liam Keane, Seán McMahon, Jonathan O’Gorman, Michael Theasby; Paidí Ireland, Cathal Nagle, MJ Malone (captain); James Keane and Liam O’Brien; Paul Reddan, Pat Connole, Aidan Malone; Killian Malone, Austin Kelly, Noel Nagle.
Scorers: Killian Malone 0-7f, Pat Connole 0-2, Aidan Malone and Austin Kelly 0-1 each.
Wides: 8; Frees won: 19; 45’s: 4.
Yellow cards: Cathal Nagle.
Referee: Gerry Keane (O’Curry’s).