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St. Breckan's manager Donie Garrihy before the Munster Club Intermediate final against Templenoe at Mallow. Photograph by John Kelly

St Breckan’s Off To A Winning Start On Clare SFC Return

Clare SFC: St Breckan’s 2-8 Cooraclare 2-6

The final Clare SFC game of the weekend proved to be one of the most entertaining as St Breckan’s began life back in the senior ranks with a win.

A late goal from Jack Sheedy proved the ultimate difference as the North Clare outfit saw off a spirited display from Cooraclare, who will take plenty positives despite the result.

Last year’s intermediate champions were much the better team in the opening quarter with Maccon Byrne and Dale Masterson to the fore in the middle third. Masterson opened the scoring with a tidy finish after a patient build up, but Killian Roche responded with a free after good work from Jack Morrissey. Roche was playing as almost an auxiliary defender for the West Clare men as he offered an overlap in defence when breaking out.

Sustained pressure by the St Breckan’s attack forced another free which Colm O’Brien dispatched while an intelligent ball from Byrne found the unmarked Jamie Stack. He called for the mark before firing over to see his side 0-3 to 0-1 ahead at the opening water break.

Cooraclare were wasteful with possession in the opening period whereas the North Clare men were much more economical. The direct style employed by Donie Garrihy’s charges caused numerous problems for the Milesian’s defence and it was punished as Aiden Davidson arrowed over a free after a strong Joe McGann run was halted.

The Sky Blues finished the half well as Roche punished more indiscipline in the St Breckan’s defence while a neat finish from Ciaran O’Donoghue saw just the minimum between the sides at the break as Breckan’s led 0-4 to 0-3.

Cooraclare had the perfect start to the new half as O’Donoghue was on the end of a move he started to palm the ball to the net from close range. His measured pass found Shane Lillis who played it back across the square for O’Donoghue to finish. Colm O’Brien responded with a free but the next score would prove to be a crucial one.

Dale Masterson worked hard to turnover county teammate Pearse Lillis on the St Breckan’s 45m line, and Alan Sweeney picked up the break before laying off to Joe McGann. In a matter of strides he had cantered into space and hammered home to put St Breckan’s 1-5 to 1-3 ahead. Another O’Brien free followed and St Breckan’s looked to be well on top.

The pendulum was not done swinging and a Cooraclare penalty materialised for a footblock in the square. Jack Morrissey stepped up to hammer it home and the sides were level at 1-6 to 2-3. O’Brien added another free to see St Breckan’s in front by the minimum when the final water break was called.

Two quickfire scores from Pearse Lillis put Cooraclare back in front but they were dealt a blow when Micheal Garry was shown a second yellow card. That was compounded further when Davidson sent over the levelling score.

Jack Sheedy had the ball in the net twice in the space of a few seconds but only one would count. The initial effort was pulled back for a free but the resultant clearance was intercepted and finished to an empty net to put St Breckan’s 2-8 to 2-5 ahead with time running out.

Pearse Lillis saw his close range free deflected over the crossbar on a packed St Breckan’s line to cut the gap to two. It would prove immaterial in the context of the result as St Breckans moved through to the winners round.

St Breckans: Tristan O’Callaghan; Conor Burke, Raphael Considine, Cian Burke; Alan Sweeney, Jack Sheedy, Rowan Danaher; Liam Tierney, Maccon Byrne; Dale Masterson, Padraig Kelly, Colm O’Brien; Jamie Stack, Joe McGann, Aiden Davidson.

Subs: Evan Barrett for Burke

Scorers: Colm O’Brien (0-4, 4f), Joe McGann and Jack Sheedy (1-0 each), Aidan Davidson (0-2), Dale Masterson, Jamie Stack (0-1 each).

Cooraclare: Killian Roche; Fergal Donnellan, Niall Kelly, Declan McMahon; Ronan Donnellan, Pearse Lillis, Colin McNamara; Micheal Garry, Tadgh Lillis; Thomas Downes, Ciaran O’Donoghue, Padraic O’Donoghue; Shane Lillis, Jack Morrissey, Joe Downes.

Subs: Jason Lillis for Joe Downes, Cillian Burke for Padraic O’Donoghue

Scorers: Ciaran O’Donoghue (1-1), Jack Morrissey (1-0, 1-0 pen), Pearse Lillis (0-3, 2f), Killian Roche (0-2, 2f).

Ref: Barry Keating (Lissycasey)

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