Domhnall O’Donovan stepped up to once more to point an all-important equaliser but this time the 2013 All-Ireland hero ensured his club Clonlara will have another day out as they drew with Kilmaley in the Clare SHC semi-finals.
Venue: Cusack Park
Although the opening half in this contest left a lot to be desired with Kilmaley hitting seven wides and Clonlara six, the game sparked into life in the second half and pulses were racing at the finish when it looked like either side could advance to the final of the Clare Senior Hurling Championship.
Micháel O’Loughlin registered the first score of the evening from a placed ball on the third minute. Kilmaley opened their account through Cian Moloney and two long range efforts from wing-back Aidan McGuane put them ahead. Cathal O’Connell and Diarmaid McMahon swapped scores at the midway stage to leave three points between the sides.
Clonlara closed that gap in the space of a minute as Darach Honan glided through the Kilmaley defence and handpassed to a free Domhnall O’Donovan and the Clare Senior fired past a helpless Bryan O’Loughlin in the Kilmaley goal.
Three minutes later and the South East Clare men had the umpires reaching for the green flag once more. Kilmaley’s Michael O’Malley was dispossessed by Honan and he cut through the centre of their defence once more but this time offloaded to Nicky O’Connell who made no mistake in hitting to the back of the net.
Two placed balls from Moloney narrowed the gap while Diarmaid McMahon pointed on the twentieth minute following great work from midfielder Brian Cahill. Honan and Micháel O’Loughlin increased Clonlara’s to two points but white flags from Cian Moloney and Michael O’Malley had the sides level at the break.
Points were exchanged early on in the second half with Brian Cahill and Michael O’Neill on target for Kilmaley while Colm Galvin and Cathal O’Connell split the posts for their opponents. A foul on O’Neill was converted by Moloney and a long range score from Sean Kennedy gave Kilmaley a two point lead with thirty eight minutes played.
Colm Galvin put Clonlara back in front three minutes later as Nicky O’Connell exposed the Kilmaley defence once more and Galvin struck a bullet past Bryan O’Loughlin for his side’s third and final goal. They increased their lead with efforts from Micháel O’Loughlin and substitute Ian Galvin sailing between the posts.
Cian Moloney added yet another free for the PJ Kennedy managed side with forty eight minutes played. Cathal O’Connell added to his account with a point a minute later while an excellent flick from Ian Galvin aided him as he picked off a fine individual a score to increase their lead to four points.
Kilmaley clawed their way back with three Moloney frees while Eamon Bracken pointed under pressure to level matters with sixty minutes played. With time running out, Padraic McNamara struck the sliotar straight between the posts from forty yards out almost on the sideline to give his side the vital lead but Clonlara didn’t panic and from thirty five yards out close to the stand currently under construction Domhnall O’Donovan managed to split the posts and send the tie to a replay.
Both teams had chances to win this one towards the end with a rushed 65 from Cian Moloney falling to the right of the posts while Colm Galvin failed to convert a chance from close range following McNamara’s important score.
Even though they failed to hit the back of the net in the course of sixty minutes, Kilmaley always managed to find a way back into this game and their resilience and mental strength is something to be admired. When they look back on this game they will realise that all three goals were conceded in similar fashion and that was with Clonlara players running through their defence far too easily. They did dominate the first fifteen minutes of the game but hit far too many wides in this period.
The 2004 Champions had nine different scorers over the hour and never threw in the towel when Clonlara hit them for a goal. With Kilmaley it’s never over till it’s over and they will take great confidence from their display. For the replay they will need to address some defensive issues but having closed a four point gap towards the finish they will know they are every bit as good as their opponents. Diarmaid McMahon, Eoin Enright, Brian Cahill, Aidan McGuane and Michael O’Malley did best over the hour.
It has been six years since Clonlara reached a Senior County Final and with ten minutes to play they led by four but allowed Kilmaley work their way back into the game. They did become complacent and that has been one of their big problems in recent years. They were lucky to snatch a draw but the fact they did will really boost their morale as they prepare for the replay.
Sean Stack’s men never really hit their peak in this game but still when a goal was needed they did what was required to get one. They conceded seventeen frees and the fact that Cian Moloney hit half of Kilmaley’s tally from placed balls will alert Clonlara to the fact that they need to work on their discipline. Just like their Kilmaley counterparts, surviving this fight will really stand to Clonlara. Domhnall O’Donovan, Ger O’Connell, Darach Honan, Cathal O’Connell and Neil Ryan did best for the 2008 Champions.
A meeting of the Clare GAA Fixtures Committee on Monday evening will determine when and where the replay will be played.
Clonlara: Ger O’Connell; Cillian Fennessy, Garrett Kennedy, Shane O’Brien; Neil Ryan, John Conlon, Oisin O’Brien; Colm Galvin (1-01), Domhnall O’Donovan (1-01); Pat O’Hare, Cormac O’Donovan, Cathal O’Connell (0-03); Micháel O’Loughlin (0-03 2f), Nicky O’Connell (1-00), Darach Honan (0-01). Subs: Ian Galvin (0-02) for O’Hare (HT), Páraic O’Loughlin for O’Loughlin (52).
Kilmaley: Bryan O’Loughlin; Eoin Enright, Conor McMahon, Sean Talty; Aidan McGuane (0-02), Alan Markham, John Clohessy; Brian Cahill (0-01), Michael O’Malley (0-01); Eamonn Bracken (0-01), Michael O’Neill (0-01), Daire Keane; Padraic McNamara (0-01), Diarmaid McMahon (0-02), Cian Moloney (0-10 10f). Sub: Sean Kennedy (0-01) for Talty (HT).
Referee: Ambrose Heagney (Corofin).