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David Fitzgerald of Ennistymon in Senior Fotball Championship action. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

High noon showdown for last quarter-final place

Senior Championship Round 5
Group 1
Cratloe v Ennistymon
at Cusack Park, Sunday 12pm

The high noon throw-in couldn’t be more apt as this is the ultimate showdown for the final quarter-final place on Sunday afternoon. The scenario is simple as it’s winner-takes-all albeit that Cratloe can afford a share of the spoils to prevail.
It’s only two years since the sides last knock-out meeting, a quarter-final clash that saw Cratloe eventually ease up to victory by 11 points as the wheels rather came off the Ennistymon wagon after finishing with just 13 men. After a slow start, Ennistymon have actually improved as the group has developed but the Achilles heel remains up front where they hold the unenviable record of having the lowest scoring ratio of all five teams in the group to date.
The thing is that Cratloe have a particular point to prove themselves, having faltered so embarrassingly against Kilmurry Ibrickane last time out when conceding 2-6 without reply after half-time to trail by a whopping 14 points. With a month to pick through the bones of that slump, Cratloe will be doubly determined to redress the balance on Sunday.
And having already confirmed a last eight place in the hurling championship, they will be hoping to maintain that momentum on both fronts.

Verdict: Cratloe

Cooraclare v St Joseph’s Miltown
at Quilty, Sunday 12pm

It’s essentially a dead rubber really as regardless of the result, Cooraclare will be contesting the relegation play-offs while St Joseph’s Miltown are already through to the business end of the championship. Under the bonnet however, neither will ultimately want to give an inch as the 2018 and ’19 champions will be keen to complete the group unbeaten following opening draws with Kilmurry Ibrickane and Cratloe before getting a first win against Ennistymon last time out.
A win or a draw would be sufficient to seal the runners-up spot behind the holders, something which could be important as one second placed side will be drawn out as a seeded team for the quarter-finals and avoid clashing with tabletoppers Kilmurry Ibrickane, Éire Óg and St Breckan’s.
Equally, Cooraclare, have pride to play for as they look to get off the mark in this year’s championship. They certainly put it up to the champions last time out and were desperately unlucky not to get something out of that game. Indeed, if they had only shown the same intensity and urgency previously, they may nit have been in this worrying scenario but that performance will have given their young side confidence and therefore it will be a far from comfortable hour for Miltown who depending on their personnel, will still be expected to shade matters.

Verdict: St Joseph’s Miltown

Senior Championship Quarter-Final Play-Off
Doonbeg v Kilmihil
at Cooraclare, Saturday 2pm

A fixture that will stir many memories of county finals past as these neighbours lock horns in a rare championship clash on Saturday. While they met in the Senior B decider three years ago that the Magpies won by 2-12 to 2-07, it’s actually eleven years since Doonbeg and Kilmihil clashed in the senior championship.
However, it was their great neighbouring rivalry over a 20 year period between 1968 and ’88 that will be recalled most as including replays of which there were three, Doonbeg and Kilmihil locked horns in a county senior final nine times (1968, 1972 (R), 1974 (R), 1980, 1982 (R) and 1988) with Kilmihil’s sole win being the 1980 decider that finished 1-8 to 0-5 including a brace of points for current county senior manager Colm Collins.
Both come into this clash off the back of two consecutive defeats with Kilmihil falling to intermediate champions St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield by a heavy margin before redeeming themselves with a more combative tie against St Breckan’s. Meanwhile, following a rousing opening victory against Clondegad, Doonbeg were second best to bother Lissycasey and Éire Óg by six point margins and have by far the lowest scoring average in the entire championship at seven points per game.
Kilmihil, led by twin threats Ciaran Downes and Martin O’Leary have been better in that department but it’s their seesaw form that is most alarming, with the 16 point reverse to The Parish providing the ultimate nagging doubts of their consistency. Doonbeg meanwhile, while less spectacular, aside from talisman David Tubridy, always give of their all and therefore in a battle, one simply couldn’t back against them.

Verdict: Doonbeg

In the intermediate championship, the final round showdown between Clann Lir amalgamation partners Michael Cusack’s and Liscannor finally goes ahead at the second attempt, with only a Liscannor victory sufficient to leapfrog their opponents into safety.
Michael Cusack’s meanwhile can mathematically reach the quarter-finals but they will need to have their shooting boots on as they would require a 20 point victory over their North Clare rivals in order to overtake Kilfenora.
The Junior A Football Championship Quarter-Finals are evenly split between two all-second string clashes on Saturday between Ennistymon and Clondegad along with the derby of St Joseph’s Miltown and Kilmurry Ibrickane. 24 hours later, it’s the turn of the flagship sides as remarkably this will the fifth Junior A Championship Quarter-Final between Ballyvaughan and Killimer in just four years and actually their sixth championship encounter overall, having met twice in the last two championships.
Last year’s finalists Ballyvaughan have had the Indian sign in recent seasons while the same could be said of St Senan’s Kilkee who have prevailed over Sunday’s opponents Clooney-Quin in the last two championship outings, with six points the margin in last year’s knock-out tie.
Finally, with two teams to drop to Junior B for 2022, Cooraclare and Cratloe’s second teams face-off to avoid the trapdoor while Lissycasey are scheduled to meet Meelick who gave three walkovers at the group stages.

by Eoin Brennan

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