DESPITE being beaten in Round 6, both Whitegate and Newmarket still lead Division 1 in the Clare Champion Cup.
Whitegate suffered a heavy defeat from Inagh-Kilnamona while Newmarket went down to neighbours and great rivals Sixmilebridge last Saturday.
Elsewhere in this division, Crusheen kept up their challenge for a semi-final place with a win over Tulla, while Clarecastle and Cratloe also recorded wins.
With three rounds remaining, title holders Clonlara, along with Tulla, are at the bottom of the table and both are in danger of being relegated.
Meanwhile, Broadford are still unbeaten in Division 2A but they came very close to their first defeat of the campaign when they visited Kilmaley at the weekend. The East Clare men came from seven points down in the closing stages to grab a share of the spoils.
Smith O’Brien’s are also unbeaten and are now the only side in the competition with maximum points after they had a big win over Clarecastle on Sunday. Ruan kept up their challenge for a semi-final place while Feakle bounced back from their championship disappointment a week earlier when they accounted for neighbours, Killanena, by the minimum margin.
Cratloe 2-19 Clonlara 0-10
WITH over half of their first-choice 15 absent because of inter-county commitments and injury, Clonlara were always struggling against Cratloe in this repeat of the 2009 county championship final at sun-splashed Cratloe on Saturday evening.
While Cratloe were also understrength due to players’ involvement with county sides and the fact that some are preparing for the Leaving Certificate, they weren’t anywhere near as badly hit as their opponents.
The home side raced into an early lead with points from James Enright and Barry Gleeson before Aidan Browne struck for a goal. By half-time, they were nine points clear with the score at 1-10 to 0-4.
Clonlara tried hard to get back in the second half but they were always chasing the game against a dominant Cratloe outfit who added points from Damian Browne, Seán and Pádraig Chaplin before substitute, Joseph O’Connor, struck for their second goal to seal a very comfortable win.
David Ryan, Michael Hawes, James Enright, Gearóid Ryan, Damian Browne and Barry Gleeson were always prominent for the winners. Brian Woods, Senan Nihill, Tomás O’Donovan, Diarmuid O’Meara and Tommy Lynch tried hard for Clonlara.
Cratloe: Seán Hayes; Philip Gleeson, David Ryan, Paul Conroy; Liam Markham, Michael Hawes, Seán Hynan; Seán Chaplin, Damian Browne; Pádraig Chaplin, James Enright, Gearóid Ryan; Aidan Browne, Barry Gleeson, Conor McGrath.
Subs: Patrick O’Gorman for Markham; David O’Gorman for A Browne; Kevin Browne for Hynan; Joe Conroy for P Conroy; Joseph O’Connor for P Chaplin.
Clonlara: Ger O’Connell; Neil Ryan, Senan Nihill, Paul Collins; Brian Woods, Tomás O’Donovan, Pat O’Hare; Jason Murphy, Diarmuid O’Meara; Tommy Lynch, John Barry, William Slattery; Eoin Hackett, Donal Madden, Alan O’Connell.
Subs: Cathal O’Connell for A O’Connell; Harry Horgan for Hackett.
Inagh-Kilnamona 3-21 Whitegate 1-11
A STRONG first-half performance, during which they built up a 14-point lead, laid the foundations for this big win by Inagh-Kilnamona over leaders Whitegate at Kilnamona on Saturday.
Eugene Cullinan and Brian Hehir were the first-half goal scorers as the home side raced into a 2-12 to 0-4 lead.
In fairness to Whitegate, they were minus the services of a number of first-choice players including the experienced Tommy Holland and Brendan Bugler.
The winners also made a number of changes to their line-up from their recent championship outing. After a spell in attack, Jamie Davin was back at full-back with Ronan O’Looney back at centre-back.
While Whitegate did better in the second half, the gap was too big and the home side ran out comfortable winners, their third goal coming from team captain, Conor Tierney.
Substitute Terence Fahy was the East Clare side’s goalscorer on a day when they struggled throughout the field.
Inagh-Kilnamona: Patrick Kelly; Miles Keane, Jamie Davin, Brian Glynn; Seán Devitt, Ronan O’Looney, David Hegarty; Colm Pilkington, Ger Arthur; Owen Vaughan, Cathal Lafferty, Dermot Gannon; Conor Tierney, Eugene Cullinan, Brian Hehir.
Subs: Shane Griffin for Cullinan; Joe Griffin for Tierney; Cathal Griffin for Pilkington; Gary Lafferty for Devitt; Stephen Howard for Glynn.
Whitegate: Andrew Fahy; Cathal Mulvihill, Trevor Kelly, Jody Bleach; Cathal Jones, Ian Fahy, Eoghan O’Leary; Patrick Minogue, John O’Brien; George Waterstone, Eric Minogue, Stephen Jones; Tommy Madden, Stephen Malone, Michael O’Brien.
Subs: Terence Fahy for Waterstone; Keelan McNamara for P Minogue; Michael Dooley for T Madden; Michael Malone for E Minogue (inj) Shane Kelly for Bleach.
Clarecastle 1-12 Clooney-Quin 0-10
A GOAL from Tyrone Kearse early in the second half turned this tie in Clarecastle’s direction at their own grounds on Saturday evening.
At the end of a tight first half, the visitors led 0-5 and they extended their advantage early in the second half before Kearse struck for the crucial score, which clearly rocked the visitors and inspired the home side to power on to victory.
Clarecastle corner-forwards, Aaron Considine and Dara Moloney, caused a lot of problems for Clooney-Quin and Considine finished the tie with six points to his credit.
While the Magpies will be happy with the result, the game ended on a disappointing note for them when Dara Moloney was sent off on a straight red card.
Clarecastle: John Casey; Gareth Barry, Mark McNamara, Ollie Plunkett; Patrick Kelly, Conor Plunkett, Kevin Clohessy; Tyrone Kearse, Andrew Page; Seán Talty, Fergal Griffin, Derek Quinn; Aaron Considine, Danny Scanlan, Dara Moloney.
Subs: Eric Flynn for Page; Eamonn Callinan for Page, Fergus Ryan for Talty.
Clooney-Quin: Cathal Hannon; Shane McNamara, Conor Harrison, Paul Clune; Donnacda Murphy, Killian Duggan, Enda Harrison; Seán Conheady, Seamus Conroy; John Earls, Cathal Egan, Mike McNamara; Paudie Ward, Martin Duggan, Derek Ryan.
Subs: Mike Daffy for Ryan; Trevor Lee for E Harrisson.
Crusheen 1-18 Tulla 3-8
TRAILING by two points at half-time, Crusheen stepped up a gear in the second half and deservingly captured the points at Dr Daly Park on Saturday.
First-half goals from Aidan Lynch and Ray Stewart had Tulla 2-4 to 0-8 ahead at the halfway point.
With Gerry O’Grady winning a great deal of possession in the full-forward line, Crusheen quickly got the upperhand in the second half. O’Grady helped set up a number of his side’s scores and they quickly hauled back their neighbours before taking the lead.
Points came from Gearóid O’Donnell, Joe Meaney, the O’Grady brothers and Paddy Meaney before Tuohy hit their goal and sent them on the road to a merited win.
Aidan Lynch added a second goal from Tulla in this half but it wasn’t enough to prevent Tulla from winning and keeping up their challenge for a semi-final spot.
Crusheen: Brian Dillon; John Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, Alan Brigdale; Jason Greene, Ciarán O’Doherty, Fergus Kennedy; Tony Meaney, Thomas Vaughan; Gearóid O’Donnell, Joe Meaney, Alan Tuohy; Paddy Meaney, Patrick O’Grady, Gerry O’Grady.
Subs: Dara O’Doherty for Greene; Niall Fitzgibbon for P O’Grady; David Forde for Vaughan; Conor O’Donnell for P Meaney.
Tulla: Sam Edbrook; Eugene Cooney, Seán Torpey, John Brennan; Cian McInerney, Brian Lynch, Mark Quinn; James Littleton, Conor O’Halloran; Trevor Vaughan, Andrew Quinn, Aidan Lynch; Ray Stewart, Brian Quinn, Shane McNamara.
Subs: Declan Murphy for O’Halloran; Michael Murphy for McNamara; Karl Quinn for C McInerney; Eanna Torpey for James Littleton.
Sixmilebridge 0-16 Newmarket 0-11
SIXMILEBRIDGE made the short journey to Newmarket for this league tie on Saturday and the returned home after scoring a merited win over the joint leaders.
Newmarket had marginally the better of the first-half exchanges and led 0-9 to 0-7 at the interval. They should have been further ahead at this stage but they were guilty of some poor finishing in that opening period when the majority of their scores came from frees by Bernard Gaffney.
In the second half, the visitors were the better side and dominated in most areas. They confined the home side to just two scores in this period, both coming from Gaffney, while at the other end, Niall Gilligan converted five frees and added two from play as the winners pulled ahead of their rivals.
Caimin Morey and Shane Golden also scored some good points for their side on a day when Tadhg Keogh and Aidan Quilligan dominated at the heart of their defence.
Sixmilebridge: Stephen Fleming; John Fennessy, Tadhg Keogh, Ray McNamara; Barry O’Connor, Aidan Quilligan, Paudie Fitzpatrick; Anthony Liddane, Tommy Morey; Caimin Morey, Niall Gilligan, Shane Golden; Trevor Purcell, Rory Shanahan, David O’Connor.
Subs: Mark Culbert for T Morey; Brian Culbert for D O’Connor; Pa Sheehan for Purcell; Danny Morey for Shanahan.
Newmarket: Kieran Devitt; Shane O’Brien junior, Stephen Kelly, Pádraig Kilmartin; Shane O’Brien, Enda Barrett, Paudie Collins; Martin O’Hanlon, Seán O’Connor; Eoin O’Brien, Mike McInerney, Neil Ryan; Bernard Gaffney, Jim McInerney, Eoin Hayes.
Subs: Noel Frawley for J McInerney; Darren Duggan for Ryan.