A devastating finish of four final quarter goals saw Clonlara sink Clarecastle in truly dramatic fashion on their way to the U-15B title in Cratloe.
The interval switch of centre-back Harry Hodgins would ultimately be decisive as trailing by five nearing the turn of the final quarter, he would dramatically fire two goals in the space of just four minutes to completely flip this decider on its head.
Now soaring in confidence, further goals through Dan and Mark Hogan would remarkably complete a late 14 point turnaround which did certainly skew the final scoreline.
Along with the impact of Hodgins, the lively Darragh Dillon, who scored the opening goal and set up two more, along with Ciaran Howard were Clonlara’s main protagonists in an unprecedented final win.
And yet it was arguably Clarecastle midfielder Harry Doherty’s almost incredulous powers of fielding, especially from puck-outs that will live longest in the memory bank from this seesaw final.
Doherty and excellent chief marksman Conor Ralph led Clarecastle’s charge superbly for the majority but once the goals started to rain in, the shell-shocked Magpies would agonisingly see their title hopes quickly evaporate.
They did recover from the first sucker-punch when despite facing into the conditions, Dillon popped up for a Clonlara goal after only 90 seconds followed quickly by points through Sam Barrett and Dillon to soar 1-2 to 0-0 clear after only six minutes.
The Magpies did settle though by hitting the next four points and while a Ruairi Keogh pull was saved, three Conor Ralph points from play would regain full parity by the end of the opening quarter at 1-4 to 0-7.
Growing in confidence, Doherty managed to edge Clarecastle in front for the first time in the 22nd minute albeit that their efforts to put clear daylight between the sides would be thwarted once more by Clonlara goalkeeper Mark Fitzgerald who made a diving save to prevent a Conor Ralph goal bound effort.
Fionn Plunkett arrowed over the rebound while further points from Milan McInerney and Ralph established a 0-12 to 1-6 interval lead. With Clarecastle’s defence firmly on top, well marshalled by Rory Ralph, Tadhg Duffy and Luke Slattery, Clonlara admirably went for broke for the new half by catapulting Harry Hodgins from centre-back to centre-forward while also allowing corner-forward Darragh Dillon to roam freely.
Both switches would be impactful as while Clarecastle opened the new half with a brace of Conor Ralph frees to open up a five point cushion, there was an early warning sign at the other end of the field when Hodgins just cleared the crossbar with a powerful effort at 0-14 to 1-7.
Conor Ralph (3) and Doherty held off any initial resistance that stemmed from Howard’s placed balls and a Darragh Dillon point by the turn of the final quarter at 0-18 to 1-10.
However, once Hodgins raided for the first goal to the right corner of the net, there would be a remarkable sea-change in the narrative as a momentum-fuelled Clonlara outscored a stunned
Clarecastle by 4-3 to 0-1 for the remainder to run out convincing victors.
Clonlara: Mark Fitzgerald; Jamie McMahon, Jack Begley, Christopher McAlea; Cian Hannon, Harry Hodgins, Cillian McGrath; Ben Power, Ciaran Howard; Fionn Reid, Sam Barrett, Sean Hennessy; Dan Hogan, Mark Hogan, Darragh Dillon Sub: Joshua Power for Hennessy (27). Scorers: Harry Hodgins (2-2); Ciaran Howard (0-6, 4f, 1’65); Darragh Dillon (1-3); Dan Hogan (1-1); Mark Hogan (1-0); Sam Barrett (0-1)
Clarecastle: Eoghan Geers; Paddy Sweeney, Luke Slattery, Tadhg Duffy; Tom Slattery, Rory Ralph, Harry O’Donoghue; Harry Doherty, Milan McInerney; Gavin McEnery, Conor Ralph, Darragh McDonnell; Ruairi Keogh, Darragh O’Callaghan, Fionn Plunkett Subs: Sean Meere for Plunkett (HT), Killian Casey for Keogh (45), Martin Sweeney for McEnery (53).
Scorers: Conor Ralph (0-11, 5f); Harry Doherty (0-6, 2’65); Fionn Plunkett, Milan McInerney (0-1 each)
Referee: Kieran Liddane, (Sixmilebridge)