When the draw for this year’s Clare senior hurling chamionship was made six months ago not many would have predicted that as early as round two, Kilmaley, Newmarket and Inagh-Kilnamona would be facing into the relegation play offs.
After two rounds, thats exactly the position with all three out of the championship race having suffered their second defeats of the campaign this Saturday afternoon.
Kilmaley, beaten semi-finalists after a replay with Clonlara last year, went under to Sixmilebridge at Shannon where the final score was 3-11 to 1-12. The Bridge led 1-7 to 0-6 at half time. Kilmaley made the better start to the second half with three unanswered points and at the three quarter stage the margin was down to two.. Kilmaley missed two scoreable frees and failed to capitalise on a goal scoring chance.
Sixmilebridge then went on the attack and substitute Danny Morey found the net to put them five points clear. Kilmaley were back in contention with a like score from Eamonn Bracken but their joy was shortlived as Seadna Morey finished to the net in a goalmouth scramble to send the champions through to round three.
In the opening game at Shannon, Eire Og scored a two point win over their neighbouring rivals Clarecastle. The town side had the better of the opening half and led by nine points at half time, 1-11 to 0-5. Nine minutes into the second half Clarecastle had the lead cut to two points thanks mainly to the accuracy of Bobby Duggan. Entering the final ten minutes the margin was still the same but the winners extended their lead to four points with two minutes of normal time to play.
Three minutes of ‘injury time’ were signalled and with one of these still to play the margin was down to the minimum but Eire Og had the final say and Shane O’Donnell sealed their victory with the last score of the game which ended at 1-19 to 1-17.
Despite winter like conditions, Tony Kelly delivered a five star performance as Ballyea ended Newmarket’s championship ambitions with a 0-12 to 0-7 victory at Sixmilebridge.
The county joint captain was outstanding. He scored 0-8 of his side’s total with six coming from open play and Newmarket simply had no answer to his play.
Newmarket played all but a minute of the second half with fourteen men after Darren Duggan was shown a straight red card a minute into the new half.
In the opening game at O’Garney Park there was a surprise result when Tulla scored a one goal win over Inagh-Kilnamona. The winners trailed by two points, 0-9 to 1-8, at half time but an early second half goal from Colin Corbett gave them the lead. Inagh-Kilnamona fought back and levelled at 1-12 each. The winning goal came a minute from the end of normal time when Darragh Corry broke through to fire past Patrick Kelly. The sending off of inter county man David Fitzgerald on a second yellow card five minutes into the second half was a huge blow to Inagh-Kilnamona who were already without the services of clare under 21 defender Jason McCarthy due to his family’s involvement in Ireland’s Fittest Family’
Feakle put in a strong second half to overcome O’Callaghans Mills on a scoreline of 3-16 to 2-12 at Scariff. The sides were level at half time, 2-2 to 1-5.
There was a shock in the intermediate championship when St. Josephs scored their first win of the season with a 0-20 to 2-13 victory over Ruan at Newmarket. In the same competition Cratloe accounted for Killanena while Smith O’Briens had to battle to the end for a narrow win over Clarecastle.
By Seamus Hayes