Ennistymon completed the quarter-final lineup for this year’s Clare SFC when they overcame the challenge of a gutsy St Breckans.
Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park
St Breckans 1-13
Venue: Cusack Park
Having led from start to finish it’s fair to say the better team came out on top in this encounter. Ennistymon won the majority of fifty fifty balls and proved superior in the air than their opponents. St Breckans put up a fight as they normally do and made Ennistymon work for their victory in a game that was littered with poor distribution.
Joe Dowling finished off a well worked Ennistymon move that began with a Lawrence Healy turnover and saw Kevin Hehir and David Fitzgerald team-up as they registered their first score inside the opening minute. Further points from Danny Rouine and a David Davenport double saw them build a four point advantage with six minutes played.
Conor Cormican kicked St Breckans’ first point after Adam Ralph was intercepted coming out of defence. Danny Rouine and Stephen Tierney exchanged scores to leave three points between them with ten minutes on the clock.
Daylight was put between the sides when Sean McConigley beat Craig Flanagan with a penalty on the fourteenth minute. Both sides added a further five points before the break to leave six points between them.
St Breckans started the brighter in the second half outscoring Ennistymon 3-1 in the first ten minutes after the first resumption. They could have turned the game on its head only for an excellent save from Padraig Brennan who denied Joseph McGann having prevented Alan Sweeney from scoring a certain goal in the first half.
Cathal Crowe’s side extended their advantage with three points in succession at the beginning of the final quarter. Veteran Dennis O’Driscoll hit two points in the space of a minute, one a shot that sailed over Brennan’s crossbar and the second from the resulting kickout as he danced past two defenders before popping over.
David Fitzgerald put his hand up for selection on the Irish volleyball team when he spiked a Sean McConigley assisted effort between the posts on the forty ninth minute and it was followed by David Davenport’s sixth point from play.
A penalty was awarded to St Breckans in the dying moments as Padraig Brennan was deemed to have blocked the ball with his foot. Pat Nagle slotted the resulting kick past the Ennistymon netminder to reduce the deficit to three but there would be no further scores as the Magpies flew into the last eight of the championship for the second year in succession.
Inter-county referee Rory Hickey was in charge of proceedings for this contest and was kept busy with two penalties awarded over the hour. Luckily for the Ennis man he is surrounded by a resourceful team of officials, an example of this being his umpire Philly Walsh deciding to use his white cap instead of the flag provided at the odd moment during the third round clash.
— Paudie McMahon (@thepmanofficial) August 28, 2016
It’s quarter-final territory for Ennistymon, a team who have teased followers of the game in Clare with glimpses of their potential. They knocked Kilmurry Ibrickane out of the championship twelve months ago however their inconsistency has proven to be a major hindrance. They did well all over the field with their forwards in particular showing flashes of what they can do, any team that can get eighteen scores in this championship is in with a shout.
They did well in the air and for the breaking ball they had men capable of hovering up possession. Provided they come with the right mindset Ennistymon could easily make the last four. David Davenport scored an impressive six points all from play, Lawrence Healy handled the threat of Joseph McGann while Padraig Brennan and Kevin Hehir also did well.
County minor Joseph McGann found himself isolated inside the St Breckans full-forward line for large spells in this game. The concept behind this would be that he would have had too much pace for the Ennistymon defence but he had a difficult task against former Clare senior Lawrence Healy. They threatened when the ball was with their forwards but they were outmuscled by their opponents in the middle third and didn’t get enough ball into McGann and Co.
Having reached the semi-finals in 2015 it was always going to be difficult for Breckans to replicate that but they can be praised for their spirit, with them a lead is never too big climb and you can guarantee they will do their best to bring it back. Aidan Davidson, Stephen Tierney and Daniel Carey did best.
Ennistymon: Padraig Brennan; Lawrence Healy, Adam Ralph, Brian Houlihan; Kevin Hehir, Enda Ralph, Michael O’Loughlin; Michael McDonagh, David Fitzgerald (0-01); Michael Leigh (0-01), Joey Rouine, David Davenport (0-06); Sean McConigley (1-02 1’Pen), Danny Rouine (0-06 2f 1’45), Joe Dowling (0-01). Subs: Michael Devitt for E Ralph (HT) (Inj), Simon Ralph for J Rouine (44), Ciaran Devitt for McDonagh (35), Ciaran Vaughan for D Rouine (58), Liam Devitt for Houlihan (59).
St Breckans: Craig Flanagan; Conor Howley, Evan Barrett, Donal Howley; Mikey Keating, Daniel Carey, Rowan Danaher; Cathal Guerin, Stephen Tierney (0-02 1f); Liam Tierney, Aidan Davidson (0-03), Conor Cormican (0-01); Dale Masterson (0-04 4f), Joseph McGann (0-01), Alan Sweeney. Subs: Shane O’Connor for Guerin (28) (BC), Stephen Nagle for C Howley (HT), Dennis O’Driscoll (0-02) for Sweeney (37), Maccon Byrne for Cormican (51), Pat Nagle (1-00 1’Pen) for Keating (53).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Éire Óg)
All photos by Martin Connolly