Having lost to their opponents when the sides last met in the final round of the league a few weeks back, there was never any doubt that Kilrush would be in determined mood when they took on St Joseph’s in the final of the Garry Cup (Division 2 football league) at Cooraclare on Sunday.
From the throw-in they thundered into this tie, taking the lead after just 30 seconds, and they had 1-3 on the scoreboard as early as the seventh minute before the Doora-Barefield side had even got the ball past the halfway line.
The losers responded with three points in as many minutes but then Kilrush took control again and added a further 1-6, while conceding just a point, to put themselves in a commanding position.
That first-half dominance laid the foundations for what was a merited victory, their first in this competition since 2007. They failed to maintain the same level of performance in the second half but going to the break with an 11-point advantage left them in a very strong position and well on their way to the title.
St Joseph’s lined out without the injured Declan O’Keeffe and Niall White and both were a loss to the team while the O’Brien brothers were unavailable, which was a blow to their attack
Defender Con O’Brien opened the winner’s account and Sean Burke quickly added a point after St Joseph’s lost possession. The opening goal came in the fifth minute when Peadar McMahon passed to team captain John Hayes, whose cross from the left was won by Jim Young, and he duly crashed it to the net. Peadar McMahon landed his first score in the seventh minute when he converted a 13m free.
St Joseph’s managed to launch their first attack in the eighth minute and it yielded a point from a Colm Mullen free. He quickly added one from play and Mark Hallinan added another but they failed to build on these scores and the winners regained the upper hand. With 10 minutes remaining in the half it was 1-6 to 0-4 in favour of Kilrush. A minute later they struck a huge blow when Rory O’Connor raced through and crashed the ball to the net from 20m. St Joseph’s were clearly rattled and Kilrush piled on the pressure and added three points to leave the score at 2-9 to 0-4 at the interval.
St Joseph’s returned for the second half with a number of changes to their line-up. Mark Raftery was now at full-back with team captain Kevin Dilleen at midfield, Damian Kennedy was in the line-up at centre-back and this resulted in Ivor White going into the attack.
They did much better in the early stages but the Kilrush defence, in which Chris Dixon was outstanding, denied them a number of scoring opportunities. Enda Lyons and Kevin Dilleen had points in the opening 10 minutes and these were the only scores in the third quarter. Early in the final quarter, Eoin Kane and Enda Lyons pointed, reducing the margin to seven but this was as good as it got for them.
Ten minutes from the end, Kilrush captain John Hayes came up from the half-back line to land an excellent point and this was followed by another from Jim Young and these scores killed off any slim hopes which St Joseph’s might have had of getting back into the tie.
Both sides made a number of changes during the second half but the end result was a merited win for Kilrush.
Chris Dixon, Con O’Brien, John Hayes, Donal O’Sullivan, Paddy Clancy, Ruairi O’Connor and Peadar McMahon were always prominent for the winners while Keith Whelan, Ger Fannin, Mark Raftery, and Eoin Kane tried hardest for a disappointing St Joseph’s, who picked up five yellow cards when Stephen Collins, Keith Whelan, Ivor White, Greg Lyons and Anthony Halpin were all spoken to by referee Michael Talty.
Before the game there was a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to the late Brian O’Reilly, whose death occurred on Friday.
A native of Kilrush, he won many honours with the West Clare club while he had trained a number of teams in his adopted parish of Doora-Barefield in recent years.
Clare GAA chairman Michael O’Neill with members of the Garry family from Cooraclare presented the Garry Cup to Kilrush captain John Hayes
Kilrush: Tony Burke; Seamus Bolton, Chris Dixon, Cathal Lyons; Con O’Brien, Matthew Moloney, John Hayes; Donal O’Sullivan, Paddy Clancy; Alan Daly, Sean Burke, Eoin Fitzgerald; Ruairi O’Connor, Jim Young, Peadar McMahon.
Scorers: Ruairi O’Connor, Jim Young (1-1) each; Peadar McMahon (0-4f); Sean Burke (0-2), Con O’Brien, Paddy Clancy, John Hayes (0-1) each.
Subs: John Moody for O’Sullivan (41 minutes); Stephen Sweeney for Fitzgerald (44 minutes); Brian Moran for Daly (inj, 52 minutes) and Martin Griffin for S Burke (53 minutes).
St Joseph’s: Ger Dullaghan; Ger Fannin, Kevin Dilleen, Sean Flynn; Keith Whelan, Stephen Collins, Ivor White; Mark Hallinan, Mark Raftery; Greg Lyons, Colm Mullen, Paul Dullaghan; Enda Lyons, Cathal O’Sullivan, Eoin Kane.
Scorers: Enda Lyons (0-4, 1f); Colm Mullen (0-2, 1f); Ivor White, Eoin Kane, Kevin Dilleen, Mark Hallinan (0-1) each;
Subs: Damian Kennedy for P Dullaghan (half-time); Anthony Halpin for Mullen (45 minutes); Gavin O’Sullivan for White (48 minutes) and Cathal Nolan for Kane (51 minutes).
Referee: Michael Talty, Kilmurry-Ibrickane.