St Josephs Miltown collected their thirteenth Clare Senior Football Championship and in doing so ended a twenty five year drought when they emerged victorious over Cooraclare.
St Josephs Miltown 0-13 – 0-09 Cooraclare
Venue: Cusack Park
Reporter: Padraic McMahon
Photographer: John Meyler
Four points was the difference at the final whistle, Miltown’s strong finish aided by some bad wides from Cooraclare saw them to victory. With thirteen minutes remaining the sides were level but the victors were lifted each time they scored in the closing minutes as their massive support drove them to victory.
The 1990 Champions built an early lead of three points inside four minutes as Eoin Cleary, Darragh McDonagh and Kevin Keavey all split the posts. Rory Donnelly opened Cooraclare’s account on the sixth minute and a further effort from County Minor Pearse Lillis reduced the gap to one point.
Kevin Keavey and Kieran Malone responded for Miltown. Lillis lifted the Cooraclare following once more on the twelfth minute as his long range effort bounced off the crossbar on its way over. Freetakers Eoin Curtin and Rory Donnelly traded efforts at the midway stage before wing-back Damien Lafferty pointed on the twentieth minute. Donnelly cut the gap once more only for Miltown to reply via an Eoin Cleary free after Enda O’Gorman was fouled to leave it 0-08 0-05 at the break.
It was the Milesians who got off to a rapid start as Damien Burke tore through the centre and kicked between the posts straight into the second half. Substitute Jack Morrissey made the most of his first touch collecting the ball before turning and kicking over off his right boot from an acute angle with thirty five minutes on the clock.
Thirteen minutes followed without a score with both sides guilty of some poor shooting. Eoin Cleary added Miltown’s first score of the second half on the forty eighth minute from a free. Joe Curtin intercepted a poor Cooraclare pass and pointed from thirty metres out. Kevin Keavey hit their third score in succession on the fifty second minute finishing off a move that began with the possibility of a Cooraclare score.
A handpass from Keavey to Kieran Malone was executed well with Malone’s point well received by the large Miltown crowd. Cooraclare were reduced to fourteen men with just over two minutes remaining as key man Pearse Lillis was dismissed for an off the ball incident. Rory Donnelly pointed from a placed ball a minute later but Eoin Cleary cancelled out his effort to seal a historic win.
In a game of this magnitude it comes down to the little margins and when Cooraclare were dominating at the beginning of the second half they missed very scoreable chances. Had they finished these opportunities they would have continued to dictate matters but their opponents came back stronger as a result. Ger Lawlor’s side had showed great composure to bounce back from a slow first half start but it was too much to ask of them to do it twice. Killian Roche, Declan McMahon and Pearse Lillis did best for the Milesians.
The victors aided by a strong start pushed ahead early on and kept the scoreboard ticking over throughout the opening half. The same cannot be said for their second half but they kept calm and crucially finished the stronger. Each score in the final twelve minutes lifted Miltown and this drove them on to victory. Michael Neylon’s men got going when they needed to and their opponents just couldn’t match their blistering finish. Kevin Keavey, Eoin O’Brien, Eoin Cleary and Seanie Malone stood out for the winners while substitute Graham Kelly made a huge impact from the bench.
Clare GAA Chairperson and proud Miltown man, Michael McDonagh was on hand to present the Jack Daly to Brian Curtin after the match. Kevin Keavey received the man of the match accolade from County Sponsor Pat O’Donnell while Eoin Cleary collected his MD MyClubShop/County Express top scorer of the Championship.
St Josephs Miltown: Sean O’Brien; Enda O’Gorman, Seanie Malone, Gordon Kelly; Damien Lafferty (0-01), Gearoid Curtin, Eoin O’Brien; Darragh McDonagh (0-01), John Meade; Kevin Keavey (0-03), Eoin Curtin (0-01 1f), Joe Curtin (0-01); Eoin Cleary (0-04 2f 1Pen), Kieran Malone (0-02), Brian Curtin. Subs: Graham Kelly for O’Gorman (39), Cormac Murray for E Curtin (46), Ian Sexton for G Curtin (55).
Cooraclare: Killian Roche; Declan McMahon, Thomas Donnellan, James Burke; Pearse Lillis (0-02), Andrew O’Neill, Fergal Lillis, Conor Marrinan; Joe Downes, Michael Kelly; Thomas Downes, Damien Burke, Tadhg Lillis; Rory Donnelly (0-04 2f), Caoimhin Donnellan. Subs: Sean O’Donoghue for Kelly (21), Jack Morrissey (0-01) for T Lillis (HT), Sean Garry for J Downes (44), Michael McMahon for C Donnellan (55), Killian Burke for Marrinan (59)
Referee: John Hannon (Michael Cusacks)