A place in the quarter-finals is at stake this weekend in the Clare Senior Hurling Championship, Jamesy McConigley looks ahead to the Round Three ties.
O’Callaghan’s Mills v Tulla
Venue: Cusack Park on Sat, 5.30p.m
Referee: Rory Mc Gann
In the last seven years for the race for Canon Hamilton neither of these sides have really lit up Clare’s SHC. O’Callaghan’s Mills who brushed Whitegate aside in round one were hit by the realisation of championship hurling when they were outclassed in their next game by a defiant Feakle team.
This Tulla side have turned a lot of people’s heads when they claimed a late win against Inagh-Kilnamona two weeks ago. Neither of these sides will want to give up the chance to reach a Quarter-final.
Although, O’Callaghan’s Mills did play at a higher standard in the league which could be significant, the length of their injury list for isn’t pretty which includes Pat Donnellan and Aidan O’Gorman but with two Clare U21s Colin Crehan and Ciaran Cooney, mixed with the experience of Bryan Donnellan and the Cooney brothers they will hope to secure a spot in the last eight.
Tulla will hope to improve off the back of a good win last time out and will look to the likes of Darragh Corry, David Mc Inerney, Niall Bolton, Danny O’Halloran and Paraic Mulconroy for inspiration.
If Tulla are allowed to execute the direct hurling they carried-out in their last outing they will be in with a shout come the end of the full time whistle. Both these side will fancy their chances and this will provide an eye-catching contest.
Clarecastle v Cratloe
Venue: Cusack Park, Sun 11a.m
Referee: Damien Fox
Clarecastle and Cratloe met in the 2014 semi-final with hopes of capturing the Canon Hamilton, Cratloe succeeded in the double while Clarecastle left that championship campaign with great hope for the coming years.
But 2015 wasn’t so kind to both these sides, Cratloe being dumped out by old rivals Sixmilebridge who eventually prevailed as SHC winners, while the Magpies narrowly avoided relegation. Now these two sides will hope to get back to where they were in 2014.
Clarecastle’s sharp-shooter Bobby Duggan struck 14 points against the Townies in round two but his efforts weren’t good enough and has left them in a tricky fixture.
Cratloe welcomed Conor Mc Grath (suspension), Cathal Mc Inerney, Conor Ryan and Martin Oige Murphy (injuries) back into their team against Whitegate as they recorded a ten point victory. Inter-county star Podge Collins could possible emerge from his thumb injury and feature for his respective side but next week’s contest with Ennistymon looks more likely for his return.
Cratloe will hold the favouritism tag but if Bobby Duggan has his say this match could swing either side of the pendulum.
Wolfe Tones v Sixmilebridge
Venue: Cusack Park, Sun 12.30p.m
Referee: Rory Hickey
Dubbed as the ‘team performance of the first round’, Wolfe Tones came crashing down to earth in Round Two losing to Crusheen.
It’s the meeting of reigning Paddy Browne and Canon Hamilton champions face off in Cusack Park vying for one giant step closer into the latter stages of this campaign. Both these sides have been narrowly defeated by Crusheen but Sixmilebridge will welcome the return of Shane Golden from suspension for this game.
A close contest is in store in this derby and Wolfe Tones won’t need any motivation when they battle it out against the Bridge. Victorious in two out of the last three championship campaigns, Sixmilebridge will be in good stead for this furiously anticipated clash but they mustn’t take anything for granted as Wolfe Tones could come with a strong sucker punch in the shape of young rapid forwards.
The experience and hunger of Sixmilebridge forces punters to lean towards the quality of the current champions.
Clooney-Quin v Ballyea
Venue: Sixmilebridge, Sun 6p.m
Referee: Ambrose Heagney
After Tony Kelly’s flawless display in a damp O’Garney Park a fortnight ago just illustrates that Clooney-Quin must cut off Ballyea’s main source of attack. Failing to advance into the quarter-final against Clonlara, Clooney-Quin have a second bite of the cherry to confirm their position in the last eight.
Ten of Ballyea’s starters lined out in the Clare SFC last weekendand Clooney-Quin may use this to their advantage. Clooney-Quin’s strong presence to prevail in an aerial battle could force Ballyea into applying a sweeper in front of the full-back line, If Clooney-Quin persist with their long ball tactics which have been so beneficial for them this year, Ballyea could be in for a testing evening.
It’s down to who wants it more on the day, Ballyea’s side is peppered with inter-county stardom but Clooney-Quin’s desire to reach the next round could be crucial.