After graciously accommodating Clonlara’s request to switch Round 2 and 3 of the Group of Death following the wedding of Clare captain John Conlon and former Clare camogie player Michelle Caulfield on Monday, Clonlara now have a bye this weekend as Group 1 heats up further.
Whitegate v Kilmaley
at Cusack Park, Ennis
Having failed to maintain their bright opening half display against Inagh-Kilnamona, it’s now must-win territory for Kilmaley who simply cannot afford another set-back in the dreaded group of five. Getting back on the horse shouldn’t be an issue as Kilmaley, showed plenty of promise last Saturday at the same venue, without ever piecing together the consistency required to get the better of their neighbours.
A fresh Whitegate will be determined to make a big impact in the championship bow and pour more misery over Kilmaley. And while they might have preferred to take Kilmaley out of the park, Whitegate did push champions Sixmilebridge all the way in their Round 2 clash in the county grounds this time last year to blow any myth about its unsuitability out of the water.
Expect a tough battle but with Kilmaley craving a result just that bit more, Conor Clancy and Colin Lynch’s side should have enough firepower to flex their muscles coming down the final straight.
O’Callaghan’s Mills v
Inagh-Kilnamona at Cusack Park, Ennis
A repeat of last year’s quarter final that O’Callaghan’s Mills triumphantly won by nine points to send a shellshocked Inagh-Kilnamona crashing out of the championship. That day, the Mills’ collective exposed a chink in Inagh-Kilnamona’s armoury stemming around a lack of leadership and defiance but 12 months on, it will be interesting to see how either side have progressed or regressed from that positioning.
They’ve already had similar starts but contrasting results as Inagh-Kilnamona rolled with the punches to finally find their range against neighbours Kilmaley while a strong second quarter helped the Mills to take control against Clonlara, only to falter on the restart.
For Inagh-Kilnamona, it’s a huge barometer as rectifying the frailties of last weekend’s 19 wides will be essentially to protecting their perfect start while it’s now make-or-break for last year’s finalists who need to rediscover last year’s form as quickly as possible.
However, the additional confidence of an opening win might be the decisive ingredient in an intriguing match-up.
by Eoin Brennan