THE final scoreline was similar to one drawn from the early 1970s. In those days, Doonbeg were renowned for their ability to win low-scoring games by the minimum margin.
A two-point win was considered a big gap. Perhaps in those days the games were more exciting than last Saturday’s quarter-final replay in Quilty. This game was short of both quality and excitement, even though the margin dividing the sides was always slim.
Not forgetting that Doonbeg kicked a mammoth 15 wides, Cooraclare will be kicking themselves long into the winter. They spurned two excellent goal chances and missed two frees from 21 yards out.
In knockout senior championship you can’t expect to miss those chances and still think that you’re going to win.
Eight minutes into the second half, Doonbeg’s Nigel Dillon saved superbly from Hugh Donnelly, when a goal would have established a two-point lead for Aidan Moloney’s team. Seven minutes before halftime, Cooraclare missed their first goal chance. With Nigel Dillon rooted to the line as Don Garry floated in what was a point attempt, Seán Maguire seemed to have every opportunity to deflect the ball to the net. However, it spilled wide and the Doonbeg net remained undisturbed.
The teams were level at 0-2 each at half time. Doonbeg didn’t register a score until five minutes before half time when David Tubridy pointed after Michael Chambers had picked the ball off the ground.
Two minutes later Frank O’Dea landed a free, given away by Andrew O’Neill, which was subsequently brought forward.
O’Neill had set up Michael McMahon for Cooraclare’s first score after just two minutes but it was 17 minutes before they scored again, when Maguire pointed after a run from Garry.
Both sides kicked some very poor wides with David Tubridy, Brian Egan and Colm Dillon off target for Doonbeg, while Hugh Donnelly and Don Garry spurned opportunities for Cooraclare.
Mark Tubridy pointed a first minute free for Cooraclare, after Donnelly was fouled, but the hatches stayed down, even though Shane Killeen made it 0-3, with his fist, six minutes later.
Cathal Lillis missed the second of those scoreable frees 13 minutes into the second half as Doonbeg began to dominate in the middle of the field. Without Joe Considine, absent with a broke jaw, Cooraclare had nobody to establish control in that area.
Substitute Brian Dillon, who along with Shane Ryan swung the game towards Doonbeg, pointed Tommy Tubridy’s team 0-4 to 0-3 up before Brian Egan profited from a Ryan run and cross to extend Doonbeg’s advantage.
With Doonbeg now holding a grip on the game, Joe Killeen saved from Ryan at the expense of a 45, while Ryan and David Downes kicked a brace of wides for the winners.
Two minutes from the end of normal time Mark Tubridy reduced the arrears to a single score but Tubridy himself, O’ Neill and John Looney were all off the mark with subsequent half-chances from play and frees.
Conor Whelan excelled in the full-back line for Doonbeg, while Dillon and Ryan did well when introduced, even if Ryan again ran into a couple of cul de sacs. Nigel Dillon’s save from Maguire was also crucial.
Joe Killeen couldn’t be faulted for Cooraclare,. They defended well generally even if they conceded a couple of needless frees, which proved very costly ultimately.
Neither set of forwards could claim to have set Quilty alight and they didn’t.
Doonbeg: Nigel Dillon; Pádraig Gallagher, Conor Whelan, Pádraig Aherne; Richie Vaughan, David Downes, Shane O’Brien; Frank O’Dea, Enda Doyle; David Tubridy, Colm Dillon (captain), Shane Killeen; Jamie Whelan, Kevin Nugent, Brian Egan.
Subs: Brian Dillon for Kevin Nugent; Shane Ryan for Jamie Whelan; Joe Blake for Pádraig Aherne and Jamie Whelan for Shane Killeen.
Scorers: David Tubridy, Frank O’Dea (0-1f each); Shane Killeen, Brian Dillon, Brian Egan (0-1 each).
Frees: 21; Wides: 15; 45s: 2
Yellow cards: Frank O’Dea, Jamie Whelan.
Cooraclare: Joe Killeen; Thomas Downes, Conor Marrinan, Bob Chambers; David Marrinan, Thomas Donnellan, Gearóid Meade; Andrew O’Neill, Fergal Lillis; Hugh Donnelly, Seán Maguire, Don Garry; Cathal Lillis, Mark Tubridy, Michael McMahon.
Subs: Pádraig Looney for Don Garry; John Looney for Seán Maguire, Dermot Tubridy for Hugh Donnelly; Kieran Hassett for Thomas Downes.
Scorers: Mark Tubridy (0-2f), Michael McMahon, Seán Maguire (0-1 each).
Frees: 20; Wides: 8; 45s: 1
Yellow cards: Gearóid Meade, Mark Tubridy.
Referee: Michael Rock, Ennistymon