Éire Óg became the first team to secure their place in the quarter-finals of the Clare SHC when they overcame Clarecastle on Saturday afternoon.
Éire Óg 1-19
This game looked to be dead and buried at half-time as Éire Óg held an advantage of nine points but Clarecastle fought back and reduced the deficit significantly. Ultimately the difference between the teams was balance; Bobby Duggan hit fourteen of Clarecastle’s seventeen scores while five of Éire Óg’s six forwards got on the scoresheet.
It was an ideal start for the Townies who raised a green flag inside the opening three minutes, a long range Kevin Moynihan effort from 45m went all the way to the back of Jamie Coughlan’s net after he found himself under pressure from Shane O’Donnell. Coughlan pulled off an outstanding on the fifth minute to deny Danny Russell a certain goal.
Spectators had to wait ten minutes for the next score and it came via a Bobby Duggan free. Éire Óg replied with the next three points before Duggan and Danny Russell swapped scores. Points from Russell and Reidy extended their lead to eight points. Bobby Duggan with three white flags on the trot narrowed this only for Shane O’Donnell, Russell, Reidy and Barry Nugent to split the posts and leave the Ennis club nine points in front at the break.
A comeback was required from the Magpies and it arrived as they pointed the first three scores of the half courtesy of Bobby Duggan and Stephen O’Halloran. Davy O’Halloran opened Éire Óg’s second half account on the thirty third minute.
Clarecastle struck for goal two minutes later. Briain Lynch’s delivery was fielded by Derek Quinn who offloaded to the on-running Jack Murphy with the corner-forward firing low and hard past Kevin Brennan. Duggan slotted over a free to leave two points between the teams but the Townies responded with Barry Nugent and David Reidy points.
Once more Duggan was on target to cut the gap to three but his effort was cancelled out by Danny Russell. Conor Dolan’s Clarecastle hit two scores without reply, David Reidy ended an eight minute scoring drought with a white flag on the fifty second minute.
Efforts from Russell on the double and one from Shane O’Donnell were enough to see Éire Óg progress as Bobby Duggan added three points for Clarecastle.
Gerry O’Connor’s Éire Óg now advance to the last eight of the Clare SHC. Their forwards will be difficult for most teams to handle but they will not get away with their second half display that saw them outscored 8-11. It s two games and two wins for the Townies in this year’s championship, they’re gaining belief which has been lacking, it’s another scalp for them but bigger tests await. Barry Nugent, David McNamara and Dara Walsh did well for the Ennis side.
There’s still hope for Clarecastle as they must regroup for Round Three. Already this year has been progress for a team that fought off relegation twelve months ago. If they’re to get over the next round they need to provide more support to Bobby Duggan, only three of their seventeen scorers came from other players which will prove costly going forward. They came out swinging in the second half but failed to land a punch as the game entered the melting pot.
Éire Óg: Kevin Brennan; Aaron Fitzgerald, Conor O’Halloran, Marc O’Donnell; David McNamara, Dara Walsh, Michael Moloney; David Reidy (0-06 4f), Aidan McGrath; Kevin Moynihan, Ronan Keane, Barry Nugent (0-02); Danny Russell (0-07 4f), Shane O’Donnell (0-02), Davy O’Halloran (0-01). Subs: Éinne O’Connor for Moynihan (50), Bryan Dolan for Nugent (54).
Clarecastle: Jamie Coughlan; John Reidy, Patrick Kelly, Gearoid Ryan; Jamie O’Connor, Mark McGuane, Adam Healy; Stephen O’Halloran (0-01), Derek Quinn (0-01), Jonathan Clancy; Conor Galvin, Briain Lynch, Pakie Healy; Jack Murphy (1-00), Bobby Duggan (0-14 8f). Subs: Pa Tuohy for O’Connor (51), Eamon Callinan for P Healy (56), Joe Barry for Kelly (61) (Inj).
Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe)
All photos by John Meyler