Cooraclare became the fifth team to reach the quarter-finals of the 2016 Clare SFC when they dispatched of Wolfe Tones.
Páraic McMahon reports from Gurteen
Wolfe Tones 3-07
A late rally from Wolfe Tones put a gloss on the margin between the teams but there can be little argument as the better team prevailed in this contest. Cooraclare’s quest of going one step further than they did in 2015 is still alive and this win will lift their spirits ahead of their quarter-final clash in a fortnight.
Chris Dunning got Wolfe Tones off to an ideal start when he goaled inside three minutes and was the result of an excellently worked team move. Cooraclare hit the next four scores in succession to take control of the game with Rory Donnelly raising a green flag on the eighteenth minute. It all started when John Looney won a Wolfe Tones kickout in the air, he covered forty metres and handpassed Cathal Lillis who saw quickly found Donnelly with the former County man making no mistake.
Gary Leahy kicked the Shannon’s side second score on the twenty fourth minute but Ger Lawlor’s charges replied immediately with Sean O’Donoghue winning their kickout, the ball was then played toward Hugh Donnelly and he fired past Paul Tuohy for their second goal. They finished the half with three Jack Morrissey points while Leahy added another to leave seven points between them at the break.
Cooraclare got the first two scores of the half with Cathal Lillis and Sean O’Donoghue increasing their lead. Once more Gary Leahy split the posts for the Tones but the Milesians raided for their third green flag on the thirty eighth minute with Cathal Lillis the finisher.
Craig O’Brien was given his marching orders on the forty second minute for an off the ball altercation and some handbags followed between both sides. From here Wolfe Tones lost the flow of the game and committed several needless fouls. Had they kept their cool here there could have been a different outcome given how well they finished.
Cathal Lillis kicked over a free for Cooraclare on the forty fifth minute but his effort was cancelled out by a Gary Leahy free. When they got back to playing football, the Shannon men showed what they’re capable of, Chris Dunning delivered a perfect ball to Johnny Bridges who palmed the ball down to Gary Leahy and he shot past Killian Roche with three minutes of normal time remaining.
Dunning and Darragh Leahy raised white flags to cut the gap to five points. Midfielder Sean O’Donoghue kicked Cooraclare’s first score in twenty minutes to settle his side somewhat. The Tones weren’t done just yet as Gary Leahy slotted past Roche for a second time with sixty eight minutes on the clock and at the sounding of the final whistle three points was the difference between the teams.
Despite playing second fiddle for the majority of this game, Wolfe Tones will feel they could have won. It took them too long to get going in the second half and it appeared that for some of their players interest had waned with a minorirty walking around the middle of the field. For a finish they were reduced to fourteen men and had two players black carded, in the space of three minutes they lost Craig O’Brien and Sean Brennan. When they played football they showed how good they can be but unless Wolfe Tones can keep their head for sixty minutes the chances of them toppling the big teams are unlikely.
John Riordan and his management team made some strange calls. They decided to take off Brian O’Connor at half-time despite him being involved in the bulk of their good passages of play, Ross O’Connor one of their bright prospects was also taken off although his replacement Brendan Hughes didn’t put a foot wrong. The last day out management didn’t start Darragh Leahy and in order for them to win they need to have their best fifteen out. Johnny Bridges caused damage when introduced. On the day the Leahy brothers were most influential for the Shannon side while Chris Dunning did well also.
Cooraclare got over the line today and for them that’s job done. Going forward if they’re to go twenty minutes without scoring in the second half of any game it’s hard to see them doing the business. It must be acknowledged that they had made changes but their substitutes should be as tuned as the players they are replacing. In the final quarter they lost 2-03 0-02, luckily for them all matches are not won in the final fifteen minutes.
They scored three goals and all of the green flags came from different players which shows the confidence and ability of their forwards. The Milesians frustrated Wolfe Tones and gave an indication of the damage they can do up front. At midfield Sean O’Donoghue and John Looney were prominent while Jack Morrissey, Cathal Lillis and James Burke showed well.
Surprisingly nine minutes of additional time was played in this Round Three clash despite referee John Hannon signalling for four minutes. Had the game went on longer Wolfe Tones could have edged their way back. Hannon did well over the hour or in this case seventy minutes but time-keeping in a knockout championship game has to be better.
Cooraclare: Killian Roche; Thomas Donnellan, Fergal Lillis, Niall Kelly; Killian Burke, James Burke, Tommy O’Connor, Pearse Lillis; John Looney, Sean O’Donoghue (0-02); Jack Morrissey (0-05 4f), Hugh Donnelly (1-00), Damien Burke; Cathal Lillis (1-02 1f), Rory Donnelly (1-01). Subs: Conor Marrinan for O’Connor (46), Tadhg Lillis for P Lillis (46), Keith Marrinan for H Donnelly (48), Joe Downes for R Donnelly (51), Michael McMahon for Morrissey (52), Dermot Tubridy for C Lillis (55).
Wolfe Tones: Paul Tuohy; Ross O’Connor, Stephen Tuohy, Colm McCaul; Terry Dougan, Sean Brennan, Ian Collins; Barry Murphy, Aaron Brennan; Craig O’Brien, Chris Dunning (1-01), Brian O’Connor; Jack Carrig (0-01), Gary Leahy (2-04 3f), Darragh Leahy (0-01). Subs: Steve Carroll for Murphy (HT) (BC), Dan Gallery for B O’Connor (HT), Brendan Hughes for R O’Connor (40), Johnny Bridges for S Brennan (45) (BC), Stephen McInerney for S Tuohy (53), Brian O’Connor for Dougan (62).
Referee: John Hannon (Michael Cusacks)