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Action from Tulla and St Joseph's respective semi-final victories over Sixmilebridge and Corofin.

High stakes as Clare intermediate finalists seek to break free

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Eoin Brennan previews a high stakes Intermediate Hurling Championship Final between Tulla and St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield at Cusack Park Ennis, Saturday 3pm

Let’s be honest, neither can really afford to lose this final. After all, with St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield (2018) and Tulla (2019) dropping down in successive seasons, what initially seemed temporary stays have descended into a meandering purgatory that both sides crave to end by whatever means possible.

After all, the longer they remain at intermediate level, the more that the superior sharpness of senior deserts them as bad habits and slower hurling become more commonplace.

Indeed, with Whitegate and Smith O’Brien’s set to rejoin the second tier pack in 2023, the time has to be now for either the Parish or the Windswept.

Before a ball was pucked, both would have been installed amongst the favourites and while that tag dipped a little as Tulla stuttered against Junior A champions Ogonnelloe in their opening bout while St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield were edged out in a group decider with Tubber, the fact remains that they deservedly take their place in Saturday’s final.

Unfortunately for Doora/Barefield however, the major effort that it took to finally see off an obstinate Corofin after extra-time in their penultimate stage encounter took its toll somewhat on their previously enviable squad; injuries to Jarlath Colleran, Conor Tierney and Brian Clancy have provided unwanted headaches for Michael Guilfoyle and his backroom team.

While Doora/Barefield have been gathering injuries, Tulla meanwhile have been gathering momentum as with their treatment table getting more idle as the championship unfolded, the East Clare side couldn’t have asked for a better lead-in to Saturday’s decider.

In saying that, with all the expectation on Doora/Barefield’s shoulders for last year’s decider, perhaps the uncertainty of their line-up may ironically ease that pressure valve for Saturday’s showdown and allow them to play with a degree of freedom.

Match winners such as Davy Conroy, the Hannan twins Tom and Jack and a brilliant half-back unit of Adam Mungovan, Darragh McMahon and Alan O’Neill provide the strong foundations for Doora/Barefield to excel whereas David McInerney, Daragh Corry, Sean Withycombe and Adam Leyden have been Tulla’s go-to men when inspiration has been required to date.

The injury doubts do slightly sway matters in Tulla’s favour as a rejigging of their backline could open the door for the physical threat of Corry, McInerney and Niall Bolton to prosper.

Referee: (Kevin Corry, Sixmilebridge)
Verdict: Tulla

About Eoin Brennan

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