Danny Russell was the hero of the hour as his tally 0-12 prevented Éire Óg from falling foul to a poor second half performance as they defeated Tubber in Round Two of the losers’ section of the Clare Senior Hurling Championship.
Éire Óg 0-16
Éire Óg got their season back in gear with a win over Tubber to put their name in Round Three of the Championship. The game played in miserable conditions wasn’t much better than the weather as despite holding a nine point half-time lead, Éire Óg took their feet off the gas and almost paid the price for it.
Chief marksman Danny Russell slotted over two points inside the first four minutes to put the Townies in front. Blaine Earley was on target from a free with seven minutes on the clock. With the breeze at their backs, the Seamus Durack managed side built on their one point lead and pushed ahead with scores from Bryan Dolan, Kevin Moynihan, Dara Walsh and Russell to leave the score reading 0-10 0-01 in their favour at the break.
It was more of a contest after the resumption as Tubber clawed their way back with Evan O’Donoghue and Blaine Earley pointing. They were dealt a sucker-punch on the thirty eighth minute as following consultations between referee Kevin Walsh and his linesman, Damien Foxx, full-back Fergal O’Grady was shown red that resulted from an off the ball incident.
Being a man down didn’t affect the North Clare men as they hit the next three scores, one from Martin Nestor and 1-01 via Blaine Earley, the goal coming from a long-range free that slipped past netminder Kevin Brennan.
With forty five minutes on the clock, Éire Óg registered their first score of the second half coming from the stick of Barry Nugent. Russell added another point but Tubber replied with two Barry O’Connor white flags.
Three points separated the sides heading into the final eight minutes and the Townies weathered the storm with four Danny Russell frees and try as they might points from Ronan Monahan and Earley were not enough to overturn the lead as Éire Óg held out for the victory and in the process sent Conor Dolan’s side into the relegation battle.
In their two Championship games to date, one aspect stands out for Éire Óg. In both games they have faded out of the tie, they paid for it against Sixmilebridge but were lucky to survive in this outing. It is something they will really have to look at heading into Round Three.
The Townies have yet to play their full-strength team this year. In this game they were minus David Reidy and his loss is huge, they will need him back in the country for Round Three if they are going to progress. Danny Russell put in one of his best Championship performances for Éire Óg and he was ably assisted by Ciaran Russell, Dara Walsh and Aaron Fitzgerald.
Tubber now find themselves in the battle for survival. Their Championship displays haven’t been good enough, trailing by nine points at the break they made the task more difficult than it should have been. When they got possession it took them too long to actually strike the ball and this ‘lack of efficiency’ allowed Éire Óg to get in hooks and blocks.
Conor Dolan’s men should be praised for their comeback but they will need to work seriously hard between now and their next game as Senior status is on the line. Their objective should be to put in a solid sixty minute performance. Conor Earley, Barry O’Connor, Ronan Monahan and Patrick O’Connor did well for Tubber.
Éire Óg: Kevin Brennan; Marc O’Donnell, Aaron Fitzgerald, Liam Corry; Ciaran Russell, Noel Whelan, Dara Walsh; Kevin Moynihan (0-01), Ronan Keane; David Durack, Bryan Dolan (0-01), Tom Downes; Danny Russell (0-12 5f), Shane O’Donnell, Davy O’Halloran. Subs: Barry Nugent (0-01) for Durack (41), Dean Ryan for Moynihan (44), Michael Moloney for Fitzgerald (48) (Inj).
Tubber: Ronan Taaffe; Ronan Monahan, Fergal O’Grady, Kevin Conroy; Conor Earley, Patrick O’Connor, Justin McMahon; Lorcan O’Grady, Clive Earley; Domhnall McMahon, Declan Ryan, Evan O’Donoghue (0-01); Barry O’Connor (0-02), Martin Nelson (0-01), Blaine Earley (1-05 1-4f).
Referee: Kevin Walsh (Wolfe Tones na Sionna)