Miltown secured their place in the final of the Clare Senior Football Championship for the first time in twenty four years.
St Josephs Miltown 2-07
St Breckans 0-07
Venue: Cusack Park.
In a game that never set the world alight, it was Miltown’s workrate that proved to be decisive coupled with the goals scored by Eoin Cleary and Cormac Murray. Although they started the stronger, St Breckans never recovered when Cleary hit the net with eighteen minutes played.
Veteran freetaker, Pat Nagle was first on the scoreboard when he converted a free that he also won with over a minute played. St Breckans added to their lead with points from County Minor, Alan Sweeney and a Nagle 45 with twelve minutes played. It took Miltown thirteen minutes to register their opening score and it came via Brian Curtin who pointed from a very tight angle to settle his side.
They cut the gap to minimum a minute later when Eoin Curtin was on target from a placed ball. Eoin Cleary raised the first green flag of the evening on the eighteenth minute, the move began when Conor Cormican was dispossessed in the Miltown half-back line and the long clearance fell towards Cleary and he shrugged off the challenge of Sean Cormican to leave just Craig Flanagan standing in his way and he slotted past Flanagan off the left boot to give St Josephs the lead for the first time.
That lead was never relinquished for the duration of the game and Cleary added to it with a nice point with twenty two minutes played. Dennis O’Driscoll ended a thirteen minute scoring drought for the North Clare men when he shot between the posts off his right boot with twenty five minutes played. County Senior, Eoin Cleary kicked the final score of the half from a free to leave Miltown three points clear at the break.
Cormac Murray was alert to a breaking ball from a Miltown 45 and the ball was kept in by Eoin Curtin who offloaded to Murray and he sent Craig Flanagan the wrong way to pick up the second goal of the game with thirty four minutes on the clock.
There could have been more goals had it not been for some excellent saves on St Breckans’ behalf. Corner-back Sean Cormican made a fantastic goal-line save to deny Eoin Cleary while netminder Flanagan got the all-important touch on a Kieran Malone shot to keep them in the game.
Eoin Curtin added another free on the forty third minute and this was followed by a Cormac Murray white flag after the County Minor showed quick feet to twist onto his right side and fire over to extend their lead to eight points. Kieran Malone added to that lead on the forty eighth minute when he pointed from twenty one metres out.
Conor Cormican got St Breckans’ first score of the second half with fifty two minutes played and subsequent frees from Maccon Byrne and Pat Nagle cut the gap to six at a stage when Miltown had decided to make use of their bench.
While St Breckans will be disappointed with the outcome, when they look back on the year that was there will be more positives than negatives, they have made great progress in this year’s Championship and come 2016 they will aspire to go further. After such a promising start the heads dropped when they conceded a goal late in the first half which simultaneously put their opponents in front for the first time.
Throughout this year’s Clare SFC, they have shown such fight but this was certainly lacking in this encounter in particular up front as too many players were content with being passengers. Likewise they didn’t get enough out of their more reliable players and over sixty minutes only created twelve scoring chances which is rarely going to be enough to qualify for a County Final. Dennis O’Driscoll, Conor Burke, Maccon Byrne, Sean Cormican and Dale Masterson were the more dominant figures for the Neil Hawes trained side.
Overall Miltown were the deserved winners in this contest. When they were behind they hunted in packs to put St Breckans under as much pressure as possible and while the hunting in packs wasn’t an ever-present for the sixty minutes there workrate was and this was crucial in getting them over the line. They did have a shaky start but having clawed their way back into the quarter-final game versus Ennistymon has really strengthened their self-belief and this was evident in this game.
Michael Neylon’s side have an incredibly strong panel with two of Clare’s most promising Minors in Cormac Murray and Sean Malone sprung from the bench along with former County man, Graham Kelly. They still have Seanie Malone and Conor Cleary to return and it is the strength of their panel that will play an important role in the final. They lost two players to black cards along with conceding twenty three frees and they will need to cut out the needless fouling to avoid disappointment in the County Final. Eoin Cleary, Brian Curtin, Cormac Murray, Enda O’Gorman and Eoin O’Brien were to the fore for the twelve time County Champions.
St Josephs Miltown; Sean O’Brien; Enda O’Gorman, Gordon Kelly, Eoin O’Brien; Colin Hehir, Damien Lafferty; John Meade, Brian Curtin (0-01), Darragh McDonagh, Kevin Keavey, Kieran Malone (0-01), Gearoid Curtin, Joe Curtin; Eoin Cleary (1-02 1f), Eoin Curtin (0-02 2f). Subs: Cormac Murray (1-01) for Keavey (26) (BC), Sean Malone for E Curtin (43), Sean Curtin for J Curtin (46) (BC), Graham Kelly for Meade (59), Brendan O’Brien for O’Gorman (60).
St Breckans; Craig Flanagan; Conor Howley, Sean Cormican; Conor Burke, Daniel Carey, Raphael Considine, Dennis O’Driscoll (0-01), Maccon Byrne (0-01 1f); Liam Tierney, Shane O’Connor, Conor Cormican (0-01), Alan Sweeney (0-01), Dale Masterson; Aidan Davidson, Pat Nagle (0-03 2f 1’45). Subs: John Stack for O’Connor (HT), Cathal Blood for Considine (46), John McDonagh for Sweeney (46), Donal Howley for Davidson (46).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Éire Óg)