IT is expected that the clash of neighbours O’Callaghan’s Mills and Tulla, both of whom are without a win in the campaign to date, will provide one of the games of the round in the senior championship this week.
Victory is vital so this should ensure a determined performance from both. The Mills were most unlucky not to have taken something from their first-round clash with Newmarket, a tie they lost by two points having led for much of the game. Tulla lost their first-round game to Smith O’Brien’s on a day when the Killaloe outfit were deserving winners.
On that occasion, Tulla boss Jim McInerney remarked that it would be difficult to keep his squad training throughout the summer, as they had a bye in round two, and he was clearly concerned as to the form they would show when round three came around.
In the past couple of weeks Tulla have put in a couple of good performances in the league, beating Cratloe and drawing with Clarecastle, results that have seen them retain their Division 1 status for the coming season.
Boosted by those results, they will go into Saturday’s clash with the Mills in determined mood. The Mills lost out narrowly on promotion to Division 1 of the league and they were very impressive in their most recent outing, which saw them score a 12-point win over St Joseph’s.
Pat Donnellan has recovered from the injury he picked up when playing with Clare in the championship qualifier in Croke Park. He played in the league last week and will be in the team line-up this week when they will be hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of that first-round loss to Newmarket.
Over the past year or two, the Mills have called on Conor Cooney to play in a variety of positions. Most recently, he lined out at centre-forward and will probably continue in this position this week. Elsewhere, they will be looking to Diarmuid Hehir, Bryan Donnellan, Adrian Flaherty and the Donovans to give them an edge.
Tulla are still backboned by the majority of the players that won the Hamilton Trophy in 2007 and they will be looking to the Torpeys, the Brennans, the Quinns and the Lynchs to give them the upperhand.
While Tulla may have the edge on experience, the Mills have the ability, based on their first-round display, to score a narrow win.
In the other game in this group, Newmarket will be fancied to extend their winning run when they take on Smith O’Brien’s. Both clubs have made it through to the semi-finals of the Clare Champion Cup, where they are on opposite sides.
With two wins to their credit, Newmarket know that another victory will almost certainly guarantee them a quarter-final date.
Smith O’Brien’s are sure to take heart from the fact that the Blues has to battle right to the end to overcome both Tulla and Whitegate. The Killaloe side has been showing steady improvement in recent years and this is an opportunity for them to test themselves against one of the big guns.
They disappointed when losing to Whitegate and also last week when they went under to Killanena in the league but they were short a number of their more experienced players for that one. They will hope to have Trevor Howard, Shane O’Brien and Pat Vaughan back in their line-up this week, when they will also be looking to Seamus Gleeson and John Cusack.
Newmarket will again be without James McInerney but in Stephen Kelly, Paudie Collins, Colin Ryan and the Barrett brothers they have strong players and should be good enough to be ahead at the final whistle.