Kilrush 0-10 Éire Óg 0-8
INSPIRED principally by wing-back Con O’Brien, who kicked three points from play and Donal O’Sullivan, who played as well as he ever has at midfield, Kilrush clinched a senior championship quarter final spot in Kilmihil last Sunday.
The game was postponed seven days earlier but if anything the weather was worse a week later.
Inclement conditions didn’t deter Kilrush, however, for whom corner-back Chris Dixon, goalkeeper Tony Burke and half-forward Brendan Crowley made significant contributions.
Playing into the wind, it was Éire Óg who settled quickest, with Stephen Hickey landing a brace of frees won by David Russell and David Monaghan.
Significantly, the Ennis men only added a single further first-half point, when Monaghan fisted over after Hickey and Seán O’Meara combined.
Kilrush relaxed after Alan Daly pointed from distance, after man of the match, O’Brien displayed real persistence to place the veteran forward.
O’Brien pointed superbly from the resultant Éire Óg kickout, while Brendan Crowley shot Kilrush into the lead from a free, won by Cathal Lyons, a minute later.
With Peadar McMahon and Jim Young operating in a two-man full-forward line, Kilrush sometimes over elaborated outfield, although when they did try and find their inside forwards, they were well policed by Alan Malone and Donie Lyne.
Lyons, set up by Rory O’Connor and Matthew Moloney, kicked an impressive score to put Kilrush 0-4 to 0-3 up, shortly after Monaghan’s point for the Ennis club.
Brendan Crowley then kicked a couple of excellent scores from play to establish a 0-6 to 0-3 advantage. O’Brien found the mark again just before half-time for the winners, while Tony Burke’s 45’ dropped wide.
Eight minutes into the second half, Kilrush were rattled as Hickey, thanks to a John Hayes mistake, Brian Fitzpatrick and Seán O’Meara, put over a trio of points from play.
With the wind behind them, Éire Óg trailed 0-7 to 0-6 with 22 minutes remaining. It took Éire Óg 14 minutes to score again though. During this barren period, Donal O’Sullivan broke forward to win a 21-yard free for Kilrush, which was pointed by Peadar McMahon, while Tony Burke pulled off a crucial save from David Russell, whom Fitzpatrick had freed with a perceptive pass.
Both of these incidents were game-defining moments. Winning a break off a Peadar McMahon cross, Rory O’Connor pointed Kilrush 0-9 to 0-6 ahead. Eight minutes from full-time, Con O’Brien embarked upon a searing run before pointing the score of the weekend.
Now four points up, Kilrush sat back more than perhaps they intended, inadvertently giving ground away to Éire Óg. Hickey pointed a long-range free to reduce the deficit to three points.
During this period though, Donal O’Sullivan made a number of critical defensive tackles, including one occasion when he dispossessed Brian Frawley.
Substitute Darren O’Meara blazed a shot wide from an acute angle as Kilrush hung on, while Shane Daniels kicked the final point from a free, four minutes into injury time, as Éire Óg threw everything at their West Clare opponents.
Alan Malone and Donie Lyne did their utmost in the Éire Óg full-back line, while Saran Butler attacked impressively from right half-back. Further afield, David Russell and Stephen Hickey did their best for their side, who now enter into a senior B semi-final.
Kilrush, who are emerging as a very competitive unit, have a quarter-final to prepare for.
Kilrush: Tony Burke, Chris Dixon, Martin Griffin, Danny Lynch, Con O’Brien, John Hayes, Matthew Moloney; Donal O’Sullivan and Eoghan O’Kelly; Cathal Lyons (captain), Rory O’Connor, Brendan Crowley, Peadar McMahon, Jim Young and Alan Daly.
Subs: Paddy Clancy for Eoghan O’Kelly, Padjoe McGrath for Cathal Lyons and David O’Shea for Matthew Moloney (injured).
Scorers: Conor O’Brien 0-3, Brendan Crowley 0-3, (0-1f), Alan Daly, Cathal Lyons and Rory Connor 0-1 each and Peadar McMahon 0-1f.
Wides: 9; Frees won: 15; 45’s: 1.
“It’s a step in right direction. But our display won’t do to win a quarter-final in Clare club football,” Aidan Daly, Kilrush manager.
Éire Óg: Shane O’Connell, Alan Malone, Donie Lyne (captain), Conor Healy, Dean Ryan, Mark Kelly, Saran Butler; Brian Frawley and David Russell; David Monaghan, Shane Daniels, Seán O’Meara, Stephen Hickey, Seán Crotty and Brian Fitzpatrick.
Subs: Eoin Glynn for David Monaghan, Darren O’Neill for Brian Fitzpatrick and Darren O’Meara for Conor Healy.
Scorers: Stephen Hickey 0-4, (0-3f), David Monaghan, Brian Fitzpatrick and Seán O’Meara 0-1 each and Shane Daniels 0-1f.
Wides: 9; Frees won: 19; 45’s: 1.
Yellow cards: Stephen Hickey and Dean Ryan.
“We’re naturally disappointed to be beaten but credit to Kilrush. They put the scores on the board, which is where it all counts,” Ken Hickey, Éire Óg manager.
Referee: Tom Stackpoole (Ennistymon).