Two goals from Rory Donnelly helped Cooraclare make their return to the semi-finals of the Clare SFC.
Páraic McMahon reports from St Michaels Park, Kilmihil
Venue: St Michaels Park
Eight points was the difference at the final whistle and not one of the spectators in Kilmihil could disagree with the margin between the teams. Doonbeg were disappointing and never got out of the traps while Cooraclare were such a tight unit that the Magpies never looked like breaking them.
Joe Blake had the first chance of the game with less than a minute played but his effort tailed wide. The resulting kickout was fielded superbly in the air by John Looney who fed the ball to Rory Donnelly in the full-forward line, the former County man burned the Doonbeg defence and fired past Eamon Tubridy for the opening goal of the game with just over one minute played.
John Looney and Cathal Lillis added a point each to increase Cooraclare’s lead. It took Doonbeg fourteen minutes to get their first score and it came via David Tubridy. A further point from Tubridy and one from Brian Dillon reduced the gap to two points.
It could have been a different story had a glorious goal chance been converted by Shane Ryan. Such was the work put in out the field in creating the move that Doonbeg deserved the goal but Ryan’s palmed effort beat Cooraclare goalkeeper Killian Roche but it also beat the goal. Jack Morrissey pointed a free shortly before the half-time whistle to leave the winners three points in front at the break.
Doonbeg started well and reduced the gap to one point following white flags from David and Michael Tubridy. Any momentum they had was swept away on the thirty sixth minute as Rory Donnelly picked up his second goal in another move that was worked all the way from a Killian Roche kickout.
In the subsequent twenty minutes the Milesians outscored their opponents 4-1 as they kept in control of proceedings. Also during this period there was a few departing personnel with Joe Blake shown a straight red for an altercation with Jack Morrissey. The extra man didn’t last too long for Cooraclare as Killian Burke was shown the line after an off the ball clash with Ronan Good. Shane Ryan picked up his second yellow and was given his marching orders by a busy Rory Hickey. A late John Looney point confirmed the victory for Cooraclare and their place in the last four.
Ger Lawlor’s Cooraclare side were fully deserving of their win. Losing a County Final can really knock a team back but there’s reason to suggest that they are a much stronger team now than they were twelve months ago. Younger players have developed that bit more while the defeat of last year is driving them on and watching them play it’s clear to see that hunger and energy.
However ten scores in sixty minutes won’t be enough in the semi-final, only one third of their team got on the scoresheet, the next day Rory Donnelly will be man-marked and the challenge for the Milesians is to get all of their forwards scoring so that they can combat this. They conceded twenty two frees and need to reduce this figure. Along with Donnelly, John Looney and Declan McMahon were to the fore for Cooraclare.
There will be a lot of head scratching in Doonbeg this evening. This performance failed to do their capability justice and they never seemed to get out of first gear. This wasn’t helped by some poor misses in attack but they only got going for limited durations. They averaged one score per ten minutes throughout the game.
Doonbeg appeared to be flat and sluggish. Everything could be dissected as a reason for this, the fact that they were warming up longer than Cooraclare or that they had a one month gap since their last championship outing but this would be inaccurate, the reality is the Magpies didn’t turn up on the day. Last year saw them compete in the relegation phase of the competition so for them to be back in the business end of the championship is a positive but how they exited certainly isn’t.
Cooraclare: Killian Roche; Thomas Donnellan, Fergal Lillis, Andrew O’Neill; Pearse Lillis, Declan McMahon, James Burke, Killian Burke; John Looney, Sean O’Donoghue; Jack Morrissey, Hugh Donnelly, Damien Burke; Rory Donnelly, Cathal Lillis. Subs: Tadhg Lillis for H Donnelly (17) (Inj), Niall Kelly for Burke (57), Joe Downes for Morrissey (59).
Doonbeg: Eamon Tubridy; Joe Blake, Cian O’Mahoney, Shane O’Brien; Paraic Aherne, Kevin Pender, Brian Dillon (0-01 1f); Frank O’Dea, Colm Dillon; Shane Ryan, Paul Dillon, Brian Egan; David Tubridy (0-04 3f), Michael Tubridy (0-01), Enda Doyle. Subs: Eoghan Tubridy for Egan (40), Jamie Whelan for O’Dea (42), Ronan Good for M Tubridy (47), Kevin Greene for Doyle (52).
Referee: Rory Hickey (Éire Óg)
All pics by Martin Connolly