Cusack Cup Division 1 Football League Round 1
Kilmurry Ibrickane v Ennistymon at Páirc Naomh Mhuire Quilty, Friday 11.30am
Based on the standard of last weekend’s hurling equivalents, it would be some feat to come even remotely close to their epic 140 minute senior championship semi-final showdown last October that went all the way through extra-time and penalty before sudden death finally inched Ennistymon through to a first county final in four years. Instead, it will probably be all about blowing off the cobwebs of the new season and trying to unearth more options for their flagship sides.
Kilmurry Ibrickane Management: James Murrihy (Manager); James Mannion, Enda O’Halloran (Coaches); Gary Sexton (S&C): Diarmuid Whelan
Ennistymon Management: Mark Shanahan (Manager); Ger Quinlan (Coach); John McInerney, Brendan Rouine (Selectors)
Clondegad v Doonbeg at Ballynacally, Friday 4pm
While Doonbeg gained confidence from last year’s Cusack Cup run to a semi-final, only these minimum separated the sides in the subsequent championship group stages, with John Keane’s side left frustrated by missed late opportunities that should have earned at least a draw. It was that kind of a championship for the Magpies who, to their credit, did save their best for last in the relegation play-offs whereas Clondegad’s encouraging returning to the quarter-finals for the first time in four years was soured by their meek exit to neighbours Éire Óg.
Clondegad Management: Dermot Gavin (Manager); Colm Quinlivan, Robert Forde, Joe Hehir, Kieran Shannon. Gareth Walsh, Keith McNamara
Doonbeg Management: John Keane (Manager); David Russell (Coach); Kieran O’Mahoney, Padraig Gallagher, Conor Whelan (Selectors); Megan Downes (S&C); John Killeen (Kitman)
Kildysart v St Breckan’s at Ryan’s Field Clarecastle, Saturday 12.30pm
Having clashed in three major finals in the last four seasons (2019 Intermediate, 2021 O’Gorman Cup, 2022 Cusack Cup), this growing rivalry may well become a much more familiar fixture now that Kildysart finally reached the promised land of senior. They did so without a home pitch which is still being renovated whereas under a new management themselves, St Breckan’s have much to prove, having rather underachieved outside of last year’s Cusack Cup crown in their 50th anniversary.
Kildysart Management: David Butler (Manager); John O’Sullivan (Coach); Jacko Cleary, John Murtagh (Selectors); Daragh Butler (Stats)
St Breckan’s Management: Declan O’Keeffe (Manager/Coach); Jersey O’Loughlin, Pat Haugh (Selectors); John Earls (Physio); John Petty (Analysis)
Corofin v Lissycasey at Páirc Finne Corofin, Saturday 2pm
Under experienced new manager Aiden Moloney, Lissycasey will be gunning to finally turn potential into an end product, exactly what was lacking in 2022 following back-to-back senior semi-final appearances. Pivotal defeats to Corofin in the Garry Cup Final and Senior Quarter-Final gives Lissycasey plenty of motivation while in contrast after a fairytale return to senior level last year, the North Clare side need to back it up.
Corofin Management: Douglas Hurley, Geoff O’Sullivan (Joint-Managers); Peadar O’Brien, Donnchadh Kelleher, Vincent McCarthy, Eoin Keane
Lissycasey Management: Aiden Moloney (Manager); Packie Keane, Danny Lynch, Jimmy Collins (Selectors); Danny Pyne (Kitman)
Garry Cup Division 2 Football League Round 1
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield v Wolfe Tones at Gurteen, Friday 11am
Encouraging strides weren’t built upon at the business end of either league or championship for these dual giants in 2022. St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield passed up promotion to the Cusack Cup and also blew hot and cold in the senior championship while Wolfe Tones’ scorching group form at intermediate level was unceremoniously halted by Ennistymon’s second string at the quarter-final juncture. They did gain promotion from Division 3 as runners-up to Cratloe but the Parish possess the superior experience.
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield Management: Donagh Vaughan (Manager); Ger ‘Bobby’ Kelly (Coach/Selector); Maurice Walsh, Davy O’Brien (Selectors); Evan Hennessy (S&C); Morgan Rowland (Players Rep/Kitman)
Wolfe Tones Management: Johnny Bridges (Manager); Kieran Ryan (Coach/Selector); Kevin Cahill (Selector); Conor Shannon (S&C); Barry Murphy (Stats/Analysis)
Cooraclare v St Joseph’s Miltown at Páirc Cuar an Chláir Cooraclare, Saturday 1.30pm
With a slice of fortune or misfortune in either direction, these sides could well have traded championship places at the backend of 2022. Miltown had to find another late gear to finally shake off Kilmihil in the senior relegation decider while Cooraclare arguably should have at least forced extra-time in their shot at redemption in the intermediate final. Both have new managements and perspectives, with Miltown possessing the greater immediate scope for improvement.
Cooraclare Management: Martin Daly (Manager); Christy O’Donoghue, TJ Molloy, Declan McMahon (Selectors); Trevor Slattery (S&C)
St Joseph’s Miltown Management: Martin Guerin (Manager); Graham Kelly (Coach); John McDonagh, Jim Marrinan
Cratloe v Éire Óg at Páirc Uí Eithir Cratloe, Saturday 2.45pm
Two divisions separated these footballing heavyweights twelve months ago but the double strain of being a successful dual club with strong inter-county contingents means that league status is rather inconsequential. Cratloe’s rising age profile should dictate that if playing with a reasonably full hand at their disposal, they have more experience available to them whereas the back-to-back county senior champions will be largely gaining experience.
Cratloe Management: Colm Collins (Manager)
Éire Óg Management: Paul Madden (Manager); Seanie Buckley (Coach); Peter Cosgrove, Shane Daniels (Selectors); Tom Russell, Rory O’Brien (Backroom); Victor O’Riordan (S&C); Barry Ryan (Goalkeeping Coach)
Kilmihil v O’Curry’s at St Michael’s Park Kilmihil, Saturday 4pm
O’Curry’s ten point opening triumph over Kilmihil set the tone for the remainder of last year’s Garry Cup as Dinny McMahon’s side’s positive start helped clinch a semi-final play-off with St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield while it wasn’t until Round 4 that Kilmihil finally kicked into gear.
Having fallen through the senior trapdoor, new Kilmihil manager Brian Dillon will be eager to hit the ground running as they crave an early boost much greater than O’Curry’s.
Kilmihil Management: Brian Dillon (Manager/Coach); Conor Crowley, Michael Doran
O’Curry’s Management: Dinny McMahon (Manager); Damien Clohessy, Andrew Curtin, Stephen Rowan (Selectors)
Division 3 Football League Round 1
Kilrush Shamrocks v Banner at Captain Tubridy Memorial Park Kilrush, Friday 12pm
More accustomed to facing the Shams’ second string in recent seasons, this is the latest step in Banner’s incremental development that has seen them soar from Junior B to intermediate and in league terms Division 3.
Kilrush will be determined to reverse their demotion from the Garry Cup at the first attempt. But won’t find it easy against a youthful Ennis side.
Kilrush Shamrocks Management: Daniel Ryan (Manager); Conor O’Brien (Coach); Noel Ryan, John Keane (Selectors); Jamie Fitzgibbon (S&C)
Banner Management: Tom Meehan (Manager); Michael Neylon (Coach); Pat McMahon, Thomas Meenaghan, Colm Browne (Selectors); Derick Dinan (S&C); Darren O’Neill (Physio)
Shannon Gaels v Killimer at Labasheeda, Saturday 2pm
A rare derby encounter between these former amalgamation partners that has seen Shannon Gaels predominantly hold the whip hand albeit that following the benefits of their new underage union with Kilrush, Killimer are a club on the rise. Indeed, Killimer will even possess two adult teams this year, having barely been able to field at all a decade earlier. There will be no shortage of intensity anyway between these neighbours.
Shannon Gaels Management: Michael Coughlan (Manager); Michael Crehan (Selector)
Killimer Management: Brendan Crowley (Manager); David Kelly, Michelle Madigan (Selectors)
Kilfenora v Ballyvaughan at Kilfenora, Saturday 4.30pm
A North Clare derby that wouldn’t necessarily invoke any major excitement as Kilfenora have been flying much higher than a numerically hampered Ballyvaughan in recent times.
However, the return of former Kilfenora player Killian Malone as the new manager and coach of Ballyvaughan will certainly up the ante, even if the home side will be strong favourites to prevail over last year’s Division 4 runners-up.
Kilfenora Management: Aidan O’Keeffe, Thomas Connole
Ballyvaughan Management: Killian Malone (Manager/Coach); Brian McGann, Kieran Casey, Tom Eustace (Selectors)
St Senan’s Kilkee v Ennistymon at Kilkee, Sunday 12pm
It’s a real sign of the times that not only have Ennistymon’s flagship team left Kilkee in their rearviewmirror mirror but so have the North Clare side’s second string as evidenced by reaching the last four of the intermediate championship whereas St Senan’s contested the Junior A equivalent. Making up that ground will be tasked to former club greats Darragh Kelly and Christy Kirwan while Ennistymon’s chief aim will be to consolidate their position as being the highest ranking second team in the county.
St Senan’s Kilkee Management: Darragh Kelly (Manager); Christy Kirwan, Peter Muldoon (Selectors)
Ennistymon Management: Brendan Rouine, Tom Ahern, Shane Talty, Michael Rouine