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Clonlara's Pauric O'Loughlin collects a high ball during the Clare Cup Division 1A Round 1 meeting with Inagh-Kilnamona in Clonlara. Clonlara will host Kilmaley in Round 2 on Sunday. Photograph by Natasha Barton

Seconds out for Clare Cup

Champion Chatter

While it’s a rare weekend of inter-county calm before the storm, the competitive action has contrastingly rapidly mushroomed at club level, with a first bumper weekend of football and hurling leagues to come over a hectic three day span.
That zero to a hundred fixture hike is in one way a welcome world away from the bleak lockdown longing that greeted the first five months of the year. However, with a large chunk of players still seeking match sharpness, it’s perhaps not ideal to be a dual player that in the absence of county contingents could be called upon to fulfill up to four fixtures over the coming days.

Clare Cup Division 1A Round 2

Crusheen v Feakle
at Crusheen, Saturday, 7.30pm
(C Maguire)

After opening round victories, this should present a welcome barometer for both this Saturday. Feakle’s opening round triumph over county champions Sixmilebridge will have given them a significant shot in the arm whereas the most encouraging part of Crusheen’s narrow win over Broadford was that their fresh-faced side managed to dig out the result.
Experimentation and blooding new players is ideally suited to this year’s league and with both these sides under new management too, it’s more about performances than results at the moment. Nine points separated the sides in the championship two years ago in Crusheen’’s favour but it should be much closer this time around.

Clonlara v Kilmaley
at Clonlara, Sunday, 1pm
(J Hickey)

After three clashes in the space of nine months, it’s now over two years since Clonlara and Kilmaley last locked horns. Whichever way the pendulum has swung though, it has always been nail-bitingly close with only a puck of the ball between them. Of course, their most famous recent meeting was the 2015 County Semi-Final that had an inevitable O’Donovan dramatic equaliser and replay before Clonlara prevailed.
A Cian Moriarty goal was the difference last time out but unsurprisingly it’s been a seesaw pattern between the rivals which if maintained, suggests that Kilmaley are due a win. They will have the more settled side but it won’t be easy to extract all the points from a trip to Clonlara.

Sixmilebridge v Clooney-Quin
at Sixmilebridge, Sunday, 6pm
(C Maguire)

Up to last weekend’s opening defeat to Feakle, Sixmilebridge had only lost one of their previous 19 competitive matches domestically in both league and championship. The spark that initiated that remarkable run was a humbling 13 point reverse to Sunday’s opponents Clooney-Quin in Round 2 of the 2019 Clare Cup.
Back-to-back opening loses that season were quickly rectified as aside from a semi-final defeat to Inagh-Kilnamona that year, senior championship honours have been accumulated in O’Garney Park.
It’s a similar pattern this time around as Clooney-Quin, following a hungry display against Cratloe, will be eager to complete a Garneyside double. As the records show though, that’s easier said than done.

Ballyea v Broadford
at Ballyea, sunday, 1pm
(N Malone)

It’s almost two years ago to the day since Ballyea and Broadford played out a sharing of the spoils that managed to promote both sides to the top tier of the Clare Cup. Getting up was harder than staying there as it turns out after there was no league in 2020 and no relegation this year either. It does give them the opportunity to test their strength-in-depth against quality opposition albeit that Ballyea have been one of the hardest his when it comes to inter-county contingents.
Broadford are nearer to full strength and will be eying up this match as one to possibly get them off the mark in Division 1A.
The thing is that Ballyea will be viewing it exactly the same so don’t rule out another stalemate which again wouldn’t be the worst result in the world for either.

Cratloe v Inagh-Kilnamona
at Cratloe, Sunday, 1pm
(R McGann)

Much like Ballyea and Broadford, these sides could do with a breakthrough win, just to even provide some confidence to their younger contingents. At full strength, their meetings have been difficult to predict as Cratloe took the spoils in the 2018 Senior Championship opener whereas Inagh-Kilnamona got on top for both league and championship in 2019.
That said, despite Inagh-Kilnamona’s four point win in Round 2 of the championship two years ago, Cratloe managed to finish higher as they lost out to neighbours Sixmilebridge in the final, after the ‘Bridge had overtaken Inagh-Kilnamona at the penultimate stage.
Cratloe are at home for the second week running but the visitors will be expected to complete a third consecutive win over their opponents.

Division 1B

One perfect record has to fall when Whitegate and Tulla face-off in Geata Bán on Saturday. Both claimed their opening points in similar comeback circumstances but home advantage could be crucial for a more experienced Whitegate.
2020 East Clare rising poster boys O’Callaghan’s Mills couldn’t have asked for a more ideal start after a 20 point dismantling of Éire Óg. And they will be gunning to do likewise to the Townies neighbours Clarecastle on home soil.
Éire Óg meanwhile arguably have the best opponents to pick up the pieces for as they make the short journey to Gurteen to take on St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield.
It’s also a senior versus intermediate derby when Newmarket-on-Fergus welcome Sixmilebridge to Fr Murphy Memorial Park on Saturday, having already had trouble with Smith O’Brien’s.
And speaking of the Killaloe side, they will be seeking their first points in Shannon on Sunday in a repeat of that epic two match intermediate semi-final from 2015.

Clare Cup
(Division 1A League)

Round 1
Clooney-Quin 2-22 Cratloe 2-17;
Clonlara 0-21
Inagh-Kilnamona 1-15;
Kilmaley 1-20 Ballyea 1-15;
Feakle 2-15 Sixmilebridge 1-13;
Crusheen 1-19 Broadford 1-17

Clare Cup
(Division 1B League)

Round 1
Newmarket-on-Fergus 1-21 Smith O’Brien’s 0-20;
O’Callaghan’s Mills 4-25
Éire Óg 0-17;
Tulla 0-19 Wolfe Tones 0-17
Whitegate 1-21 Clarecastle 2-17;
St Joseph’s D/Barefield 3-25 Sixmilebridge (2) 2-18

Division 2 League Round 1

Scariff 1-20 Corofin 1-17;
Newmarket-on-Fergus (2) 3-17 Tubber 5-11;
Clooney-Quin (2) 0-22
Parteen 1-14;
Inagh-Kilnamona (2) 2-17
Kilmaley (2) 0-19;
Ruan 1-21 Cratloe (2) 3-14

Division 3 League Round 1

Crusheen (2) 4-12
Broadford (2) 1-18;
Ogonnelloe 4-15
Éire Óg (2) 0-09;
Killanena 2-16
Clarecastle (2) 0-14;
Bodyke 2-20
Clonlara 1-20

Division 4 League Round 1

O’Callaghan’s Mills (2) 3-22 Banner 1-15;
Inagh-Kilnamona (3) 4-19
Newmarket-on-Fergus (3) 3-09;
Ennistymon 0-14 Meelick 0-07;
St Joseph’s D/Barefield (2) 1-16 Ballyea (2) 1-12

Division 5A League Round 1
Kilmaley (3) 3-18
Clonlara (3) 1-10;
Sixmilebridge (3) 1-15
Whitegate (2) 0-14;
Smith O’Brien’s (2) 3-22
Feakle (2) 5-16;
Scariff (2) 3-23 Éire Óg (3) 0-06

Division 5B League Round 1
Tulla (2) 1-19 Corofin (2) 2-13
Wolfe Tones (2) 1-11
Tubber (2) 0-14;
Killanena (2) W/O from
Ballyea (3);
Ruan (2) W/O from Parteen (2)

Division 5C League Round 1
Ennistymon (2) 1-11
Bodyke (2) 0-10;
Clooney-Quin (3) 1-21
Clonbony 1-13;
Broadford (3) W/O
from Clarecastle (3);
Banner (2) 3-15 Tulla (3) 1-07

by Eoin Brennan

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