Clonlara made no mistakes the second time round as they had eight points to spare over Clarecastle in the Clare Senior Hurling Championship Round One replay.
Venue: Cusack Park.
The 2008 Champions got off to a better start and from the off they dominated proceedings although Clarecastle will take some pride in their second half performance which saw them come within five points of their opponents.
Darach Honan was first on the scoreboard pointing with less than a minute played and Michél O’Loughlin pointed shortly after when he made the most of a Pat O’Hare handpass towards the right sideline. Bobby Duggan opened Clarecastle’s account on five minutes from a placed ball but Clonlara hit back with Oisin O’Brien and Pat O’Hare efforts.
A shot from Cathal O’Connell dropped short towards the Clarecastle goal with nine minutes played and the ball broke between Michael Collins and Joe Barry straight into the path of Darach Honan and the tall man made no mistake in firing the sliotar past Jamie Coughlan for the first goal of the game.
Freetakers Michéal O’Loughlin and Bobby Duggan swapped scores before Seanie Moloney and Nicky O’Connell exchanged points to leave six points between the sides. Clonlara’s ability to point from distance was crucial throughout and white flags from Nicky O’Connell and Neil Ryan boosted their cause with twenty two minutes played.
Michéal O’Loughlin hit 1-01 in the space of three minutes in the lead-up to half-time to really dent Clarecastle’s aspirations. The goal itself was a blistering ground-strike that rocketed to the bottom right corner of Coughlan’s net after Honan played an excellent pass in O’Loughlin’s path. Duggan with a pointed free reduced the gap to ten points at the interval.
Showing renewed vigour following the resumption, the Magpies were the quickest off the mark with Stephen O’Halloran pointing straight off the throw-in after running through the Clonlara defence. Darach Honan replied seconds later to maintain their advantage of ten points.
Clare Senior, Bobby Duggan floated a dangerous ball in towards the Clonlara goalmouth and in the resulting scramble on the third minute, Pakie Healy flicked the sliotar past Páraic O’Loughlin to give the Magpies a much needed lift. Nicky O’Connell picked off the next score for the Sean Stack managed Clonlara but their lead could have been increased had it not been for a fine save from Clarecastle custodian who blocked a Darach Honan shot.
Substitute, Brian Lynch raised Clarecastle’s second green flag with a tidy strike that gave Ard Scoil Rís student Páraic O’Loughlin no chance in the Clonlara goal. Michéal O’Loughlin and Duggan swapped scores on two separate occasions to leave five points between the sides with forty six minutes on the clock.
Ciarán Downey pointed for the South East Clare men from the 45 but his effort was cancelled out by another Bobby Duggan free. Clare U-21 panellist O’Loughlin increased his tally with a free on the fifty fourth minute and this was followed by a Cormac O’Donovan penalty that sailed over the Clarecastle crossbar.
Duggan cut the distance to six points but Clonlara finished just like they started and that was the stronger of the two sides as efforts from Darach Honan and Michéal O’Loughlin ensured an eight point win for the 2014 semi-finalists.
As they look back on this outing, Clonlara will point out their second half display as an area of improvement. They let an eight point lead slip in the drawn game and they let Clarecastle edge their way back into proceedings. Stack’s men need to be ruthless for the full sixty minutes and bury their opposition when they have the chance.
Minus the service of the Galvin brothers; Colm and Ian, there is still a lot of firepower to make its way back into the Clonlara team. Their ability to pick off scores from distance was critical to their victory today while the fact they had seven different scorers over the hour will also please the Clonlara management. Next up is O’Callaghans Mills in a repeat of last year’s quarter-final. Cillian Fennessy, Darach Honan, Domhnall O’Donovan and John Conlon stood out for the South East Clare men whose ability to win the aerial battle all over the field fired them to victory.
In their heart of hearts, Clarecastle will know they did not do themselves justice. On too many occasions they allowed Clonlara to gain primary possession and this display was not a patch on the Magpies outfit that dug out a draw two weeks ago when all seemed lost. Clarecastle lacked the character that is within their ranks. Their failure to bring their key men into the game also played a massive part in their defeat.
Positives can be taken too for the Tommy Dunne coached side. They showed glimpses of their potential in the second half and limited the damage being inflicted on them somewhat. As long as Clarecastle incorporate a style of play which ensures the trio of Bobby Duggan, Stephen O’Halloran and Jonathan Clancy receive regular possession they will have a big say in how the championship unfolds. Kevin Clohessy did best for the Magpies while Pakie Healy, Jonathan Clancy and Seanie Moloney fought hard.
Clonlara: Páraic O’Loughlin, Shane O’Brien, Garrett Kennedy, Cillian Fennessy, Neill Ryan (0-01), John Conlon, Oisin O’Brien (0-01), Domhnall O’Donovan, Nicky O’Connell (0-03), Pat O’Hare (0-01), Darach Honan (1-03), Michael Collins, Michéal O’Loughlin (1-07 3f), Cormac O’Donovan (0-01 Pen), Cathal O’Connell. Subs: Ciarán Downey (0-01) for Collins (HT).
Clarecastle: Jamie Coughlan, Joe Barry, Patrick Kelly, Kevin Clohessy, Jamie O’Connor, Stephen O’Halloran (0-01), Conor Galvin, Bobby Duggan (0-08 8f), Jonathan Clancy, Stephen Ward, Adam Healy, Mark McGuane, Seanie Moloney (0-01), Pakie Healy (1-00), Eamon Callinan. Subs: Conor Plunkett for Callinan (19), Derek Quinn for A Healy (HT), Brian Lynch (1-00) for McGuane (HT), Pat Tuohy for Galvin (44), Eric Flynn for Plunkett (Inj) (49).
Referee: Ambrose Heagney (Corofin).
All photos taken by John Meyler.