AFTER a false start in 2020, there was a large sense of deja vu when the Cusack Cup finally recommenced in earnest on Bank Holiday Monday, reports Eoin Brennan. Without any action in over eight months, five adult league games should be sufficient to blow off any cobwebs, with this week’s Round 1 being a repeat of last year’s opening fixtures.
Defending champions (from 2019) St Joseph’s Miltown couldn’t have asked for a better confidence boosting start as they blew away the meek challenge of arch rivals Kilmurry Ibrickane by 2-21 to 0-04 in a rare below-par derby showdown in the newly redeveloped Páirc Naomh Mhuire in Quilty.
Without their county continents, it was the most recent Clare performer that proved the ultimate difference as Cormac Murray’s remarkable 14 point haul allied to final quarter goals through substitute Micheál Malone and Gordon Kelly saw Miltown exact full revenge for league and championship reverses to their neighbours in 2020.
Fortifying last year’s victory over Doonbeg were intermediate side Kildysart who backed up their return to the top flight with another first round away win in Shanahan McNamara Memorial Park by 0-14 to 0-08.
The sharpness of Kildysart’s attack, led by chief marksmen Diarmuid O’Donnell (4), Seamus Casey (3) and Luke McGrath (2) simply could not be matched by their hosts who already without David Tubridy, lost last year’s Clare Under 20 Captain Sean Conway to a shoulder injury in the first quarter.
A seven point unanswered rally with the aid of the wind in the first half catapulted Kildysart into a comfortable lead that they would not relinquish thereafter despite the best efforts of Mikey Tubridy.
Both Éire Óg and Ennistymon will be reasonably happy with their first competitive outing of 2021 in Ennis on Monday as the visitors took the points in a 1-11 to 0-11 win but the home side, without nine players from Clare’s senior football and hurling squads kept pace with their North Clare opponents throughout.
In the end, Lawrence Healy’s early second half goal was the ultimate divider while Killian Malone also chipped in with seven points.
There was literally nothing to separate Clondegad and St Breckan’s though who played out a compelling 1-12 to 0-15 draw in newly developed Ballynacally.
Despite being reeled in by an early Maccon Byrne goal on the restart, it was Clondegad, led by Barry Toner and Daniel Kelly that appeared increasingly likely to take the points. However, a late two point advantage would be wiped out when Maccon Bynre and Cathal Guerin raided for late St Breckan’s scores to share the opening spoils.
In Division 2
Gearoid Cahill’s six point haul steered intermediate side Corofin to an encouraging 0-12 to 0-07 victory over Cooraclare in a tie that finished with 14 men apiece.
A strong final quarter ensured that St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield replicated last year’s Intermediate Championship Semi-Final defeat over Shannon Gaels by 1-12 to 1-08. Level at 1-8 apiece by the final water break, it was the visiting Parish that built upon Kieran Thynne’s boosting goal to seal the win.
Last year’s senior semi-finalists Lissycasey got their Garry Cup campaign off to a positive start with a 0-15 to 0-10 victory over Kilrush on away soil as did intermediate side O’Curry’s whose 2-11 to 0-11 win over senior side Kilmihil will provide a significant early boost.
Cusack Cup (Division 1 League) Round 1
Doonbeg 0-14 Kildysart 0-08
Ennistymon 1-11 Éire Óg 0-11
Clondegad 0-15 St Breckan’s 1-12
St Joseph’s Miltown 2-21 Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-04
Garry Cup (Division 2 League) Round 1
Corofin 0-12 Cooraclare 0-07
Lissycasey 0-15 Kilrush Shamrocks 0-10
O’Curry’s 2-11 Kilmihil 0-11
St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield 1-12 Shannon Gaels 1-08
Division 3 League Round 1
Cratloe 3-18 Coolmeen 0-11
Kilfenora 1-14 Naomh Eoin 1-12
Wolfe Tones 3-07 Killimer 0-14
Ennistymon (2) 2-6 St Senan’s Kilkee 1-5
Division 7 League Round 1
Cooraclare (3) 1-10 Lissycasey (3) 0-09
Clondegad (3) 1-10 St Senan’s Kilkee (2) 1-08
Ennistymon (3) 2-10 St Breckan’s (3) 0-05
by Eoin Brennan