Newmarket-on-Fergus led by the outstanding Colin Ryan just about overcame a stern Feakle challenge to secure their spot in the winners section in Round Two of the Clare Senior Hurling Championship.
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge
Only one score separated the sides at the sounding of the final whistle and the Blues were clearly relieved to have got over the line against a fired up Feakle side playing in their first Senior Championship game in fifteen years.
Two points from the hurley of Colin Ryan along with a single effort from Martin O’Hanlon gave Newmarket a three point advantage with six minutes played. Clare Intermediate Captain, Shane McGrath swapped scores with Ryan from placed balls on two separate occasions in the intervening eight minutes to ensure no change in Newmarket’s lead.
McGrath hit two points without reply only for Colin Ryan to go down the other end and do the exact same. Oisin Donnellan narrowed the distance to two points with twenty five minutes played only for Colin Ryan to reply a minute after. Feakle were awarded a penalty after Martin Daly was adjudged to have been fouled and Shane McGrath slotted the penalty to the bottom right corner of the Newmarket net. Nice points from Eoin O’Brien and Colm McCaul gave the Blues a two point cushion at the interval.
Feakle were first on the board in the second half as Killian Bane and Oisin Donnellan put the East Clare men in front with eleven minutes played. They hit a further three scores without reply as Shane McGrath, Henry Hayes and Eoin Tuohy all pointed.
Colin Lynch’s Newmarket got their first score of the second half on the fifty fifth minute via a Colin Ryan free. They followed this with a goal from James Liddy who flicked past Eibhear Quilligan to put the 2012 Champions one point clear. Henry Hayes and Ryan exchanged points on the fifty eight minute but two points in succession from Hayes nudged Val Donnellan’s side in front as the game entered stoppage time.
Down through the years, Sixmilebridge has seen some great goals but few can match the spectacular effort from Colin Ryan on the 21 that went straight to the top left corner of the Feakle net that left Eibhear Quilligan dumbfounded. Ryan added another point to seal the win for the Blues.
It’s the norm for teams promoted from Intermediate to make an impact on the Senior grade in Clare, Feakle didn’t upset the trend as they almost pulled off a major shock, in fact they were two minutes away from doing so. Their experience may have proved costly at this juncture as no member of the Feakle panel has ever played Senior hurling whereas Newmarket had the composure to grind out the win.
Although it is a defeat, the East Clare men can be satisfied with their efforts. They were reduced to fourteen men in stoppage time as Oisin Donnellan was sent to the line and this came at a vital stage when the game was in the melting pot. This is a young Feakle side and they will learn a lot from their first Senior outing and they have the ability to have a say in how this Championship pans out. Shane McGrath, Evan McMahon, Henry Hayes and Con Smyth did best for Feakle.
Prior to the game the only thing Newmarket were interested in was getting a win, they achieved this aim but they will need to improve on their display. They went twenty five minutes in the second half without scoring and against a more experienced opposition they would have been punished. The Blues faded out of the game in the second half and they cannot afford to this when it comes to Championship.
Having to grind out a result can give a team a big lift but the Blues cannot let this become a habit as they have now used their get out of jail free card. They lit Feakle dictate matters for the majority of the second half and seemed to ease up after gaining a small lead, these problems will need to be addressed by the time Round Two comes along. Colin Ryan was outstanding for the Blues and he was ably assisted by Sean O’Connor, Alan Barrett and Darren Duggan.
Newmarket-on-Fergus: Darren Duggan, Paudie McMahon, Sean O’Connor, Evan Keogh, Shane Kelleher, Shane O’Brien Jnr, Alan Barrett, Martin O’Hanlon (0-01), Eoin O’Brien (0-01), Noel Frawley, Colm McCaul (0-01), Colin Ryan (1-10), Eoin Hayes, James McInerney, James Liddy (1-00). Subs: Frank Melody for Frawley (51), Padraig Kilmartin for McCaul (53), Neil Ryan for Hayes (55).
Feakle: Eibhear Quilligan, James Noonan, Evan McMahon, Justin Nelson, Eoin Tuohy (0-01), Raymond Bane, Con Smyth, Shane McGrath (1-05 4f 1 Pen), Colin Nelson, Oisin Donnellan (0-02), Killian Bane (0-01), Gary Guilfoyle, Martin Daly, Francis O’Grady, Steven Conway. Subs: Henry Hayes (0-04) for Guilfoyle (45).
Referee: Damien Fox (Clooney/Quin).
Elsewhere Clarecastle overturned an eight point Clonlara lead to send the game to extra time which failed to separate the sides as it finished 2-17 to 1-20. Patrick Kelly and Pat Tuohy goaled for the Magpies while Cathal Tots O’Connell raised Clonlara’s only green flag.
Despite being level at 0-08 apiece, Kilmaley eventually brushed off the Whitegate challenge to secure 1-22 to 1-10 win. All six of the Kilmaley forwards registered scores with Cian Moloney finishing with a tally of 0-06 while Michael O’Malley had 0-04 to his name.