Wolfe Tones were crowned 2015 Clare Intermediate Hurling Champions when they fought off the challenge of Broadford in a tight and nail-biting affair.
Wolfe Tones 4-10
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge
Thirteen months on from a one point defeat to St Josephs Doora/Barefield that saw them relegated to the Intermediate grade, Wolfe Tones have secured their place in the Clare Senior Hurling Championship for 2016 when they came out on a top against another side relegated to Intermediate last year that being Broadford.
In the battle of two very evenly matched sides it was Wolfe Tones’ ability to convert their goal chances along with their winning of the breaks in the middle of the park that served as the fundamental reasons for their success.
Local butcher Kevin McCafferty got the Shannon side off to the ideal start with three minutes played as he picked up the first goal of the game. A Paul Hogan puckout was won by Rory Hayes whose delivery into the danger area was well controlled by Aron Shanagher who put it on a plate for McCafferty and he fired to the top right hand corner of the Broadford goal.
Eight minutes later and Broadford were back on level terms as they responded well. Diarmuid Moloney added their first point while Stiofan McMahon pointed from fifty yards out on the sideline and Craig Chaplin equalised when a great touch and pass from his brother Darren handed him an easy opportunity to split the posts.
Clare U21 wing-back Ben O’Gorman pushed the Tones back in front when a Daithí O’Connell found him in time and space before hitting the sliotar straight over the crossbar. Aron Shanagher increased their lead with a placed ball but his effort was cancelled out by a Diarmuid Moloney effort with the score stemming from their own puckout.
Jack Cunningham got on the end of a Wolfe Tones attack with nineteen minutes on the clock and he made no mistake in burying the ball in the back of the net to extend their advantage to six points. Broadford replied with Aonghus O’Brien and Cathal Chaplin pointing. John Guilfoyle won possession from a Paul Hogan puckout and soloed through a couple of challenges and slotted over. Freetakeers Aron Shanagher and Padraig Hickey traded efforts before the break to leave Wolfe Tones four points ahead.
Captain Aaron Cunningham was first off the mark in the second half when he won the break provided by McCafferty to raise a white flag twelve seconds in. Moloney and Shanagher swapped scores before the County Minor was first to react to a breaking ball near the Broadford goalmouth and he struck the sliotar past netminder Alan McMahon.
Padraig Hickey narrowed the gap to six points with thirty seven minutes played only for Aaron Cunningham to reply with a fine score two minutes later. Substitute Donie Whelan made his presence with two points in succession while Darren Chaplin and Hickey were also on target during a ten minute spell in which the East Clare men were in complete control.
Aron Shanagher broke a ten minute scoring drought for James Carrig’s men on the nineteenth minute with a free but three scores on the trot from Padraig Hickey left Broadford just one point adrift. Goalkeeper Alan McMahon pulled off a fine save to deny Aaron Cunningham a certain goal.
Another Wolfe Tones scoring drought was ended by a Shangher, this time it was older brother Andrew with an over the shoulder strike that settled his side after going seven minutes without a score. Great vision and a super handpass from Aron Shanagher found Dean Devanney and he finished off the move with a goal on the fifty eight minute to leave five points between the sides. Cathal Chaplin and Aron Shanagher exchanged frees but five points would remain the gap as the Tones held out for the win.
Broadford will certainly know they were good enough to win this game but ultimately they didn’t make the most of chances that fell their way with several opportunities presenting themselves around the Wolfe Tones goalmouth but the East Clare men never seemed to win the all-important breaks. Added to that they were suspect in the full-back line as they struggled to cope with a lethal forward-line.
Although it isn’t the position they want to be in, Broadford will remain an Intermediate side in 2016. They have a very strong side at their disposal with a number of young exciting players, they will came back stronger next year and it is crucial for their development that they succeed in twelve months, there is no doubt that they have the ability. Diarmuid Moloney, Donie Whelan, Aonghus O’Brien, Cathal Chaplin and Darren Chaplin were most effective for the Danny Chaplin managed outfit.
With several young players making the step-up to adult hurling this year for the Tones it was imperative that following their relegation thirteen months ago that they achieved in their quest for promotion. While their younger players played a significant part the experience of starting seven men from their 2006 Senior County Championship winning panel plus being able to introduce players of Brian and Gary O’Connell’s calibre at a key stage in the contest was invaluable.
Every time when Broadford were beginning to gain control the Shannon men responded and their ability to do so with green flags was key. They now take on Kerry Senior Champions, Kilmoyley on October 25th at a Clare venue and while that will be their main focus they can be confident of being a competitive outfit in the 2016 Clare SHC. Daithí O’Connell, Declan O’Rourke, Aaron Cunningham, Paul Hogan and Jamie Roughan were most effective for the victors.
Wolfe Tones: Paul Hogan; Declan McCarthy, Jamie Roughan, Dermot O’Rourke; Ben O’Gorman (0-01), Bobby McPhillips, Barry Loughnane; Daithí O’Connell, John Guilfoyle (0-01); Rory Hayes, Declan O’Rourke, Aaron Cunningham (0-02); Kevin McCafferty (0-01), Aron Shanagher (1-05 4f 1’65), Jack Cunningham (1-00). Subs: Brian O’Connell for Dermot O’Rourke (38), Dean Devanney (1-00) for McCafferty (49), Gary O’Connell for McCarthy (52), Andrew Shanagher (0-01) for Hayes (54), Stephen McInerney for McPhillips.
Broadford: Alan McMahon; Mark Moloney, Alan Kilcoyne, Stephen Gunning; Sean Phelan, Cathal Chaplin (0-02 1f), Caoilean Cox; Shane Taylor, Aonghus O’Brien (0-01); Stiofan McMahon (0-01), Padraig Hickey (0-06 3f 2’65), Eoin O’Brien; Darren Chaplin (0-01), Craig Chaplin (0-01), Diarmuid Moloney (0-03). Subs: Brian Taylor for Gunning (HT), Donie Whelan (0-02) for Cox (35).
Referee: Rory McGann (Newmarket-on-Fergus).
Gallery of photos from John Meyler to follow.