By Seamus Hayes
Newmarket Celtic A 4 Ennis Town Rock A 1
Five minutes into the second half of Saturday evening’s Clare junior cup final, Newmarket Celtic A introduced Daithi O’Connell and a little over forty minutes later the Shannon man was presented with the man of the match award, such was his impact on the game.
His hat trick helped Newmarket to a third cup title in a row, a feat never before achieved by the club. They are still very much in the running for the premier league title and if they can manage to win their five remaining games they can complete the league and cup double for the second time in three years
Goals in the 14th, 28th and 40th minutes of the half by the former Clare hurler put paid to Ennis Town Rock’s hopes of a first Clare cup title. On a beautiful summer’s evening, the final attracted a big attendance to the county grounds in Doora where Newmarket’s experience proved a key factor in their victory.
The winners took the lead five minutes before the break when Eoin Hayes converted from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Jason White and this goal separated the sides at half time. Newmarket had dominated the opening half and would not have been flattered by a greater lead at this stage.
In the second half Ennis Town came more into the game but the introduction of O’Connell helped Newmarket stamp their authority on the game. Eoin Hayes, another of the winner’s stars on the evening, played the ball through to O’Connell who shot past the advancing Stephen Loftus from a tight angle to double the winner’s lead.
He struck again early in the final quarter as he continued to cause all sorts of problems for the Ennis Town Rock defence.
The first time finalists refused to give in and they received a great boost three minutes later when their captain Stephen Hickey found the net following a Gary Collins cross. Newmarket, however, continued to create chances and O’Connell compledted his hat trick five minutes from time, much to the delight of the big Newmarket following.
This victory means a fourth cup medal for O’Connell who joined the club three years ago having won his first with Rineanna Rovers.. “Its been a difficult year for us with injuries and missing two of our big players for the final and then we lost Ronan McCormack after a few minutes. Our experience really counted. I am just delighted. Its a privilage to play with this club. I joined three years ago after Liam Murphy asked me and I haven’t had one regret”, a delighted Daithi said after the game.
Newmarket Celtic A;–Trevor O’Donnell; Alan Kelly, David O’Grady; Eoin O’Brien, Seamus Lawlor; Alan Brigdale, MichaelCrosby (captain) Steven Kelly,Eoin Hayes, Ronan McCormack Kevin Feeley;
Subs–Paudie Hayes for McCormack (inj)10 minutes) Daithi O’Connell for Feeley (50 minutes) DarrenCullinan for Brigdale (75 minutes) Seamus Considine for A. Kelly and Neil Ryan for Crosby (both 89 minutes)
Ennis Town Rock A;–StephenLoftus; Ethan Considine, Ritchie Neylon, Jason White, Shane Daniels; Adrian Walsh, David O’Sullivan, Barry Woods, Stephen Hickey (captain) Daryl Eade, Gary Collins;
Subs–Ray Esedebe for Woods(57 minutes); Noel Frawley for A. Walsh (70 minutes) Gary Walsh for White and Ronan Judge for Neylon (both 89 minutes).
Referee–Michael Rock; Linesmen Terry Kennedy and Dave McCarthy