Not only did they have nine points to spare at the finish, but they could afford the luxury of three missed penalties, two inside an eight-minute period in the opening quarter.
With three wins from four starts they are now favourites with holders Monaleen to make it through to the semi-finals.
Athea declared their intentions right from the throw-in with the ball worked down the left flank to Brian Ahern who beat keeper Ian Bennis with a stinging shot.
Then they saw Bennis dive full length to deny Ger Ahern from the penalty spot. Claughaun were in further trouble when Pat Ahern set up Mike Hayes for goal number two. Then Ger Ahern hit an upright from another penalty - and Claughaun hadn’t even come close to testing Tim Enright.
Athea shot wide after wide and in 24 minutes conceded a needless penalty which Mike O’Donoghue converted. It was 2-4 to 1-2 at the break.
By the 45th minute it was 2-8 to 1-3 and there was a mini-scare for the west Limerick side when substitute Frank Glynn struck a goal from close range.
However, they finished on a high with points from Declan White (3) and Neilus Hunt. A player from each side was sent off near the end.
Scorers for Athea: D. White 0-5, G. Ahern 0-4, B. Ahern, M. Hayes 1-0 each, J. Collins 0-2, N. Hunt 0-1.
Claughaun: M. O'Donoghue, F Glynn 1-0 each, W. Fitzgerald, B. Ryan, A. Loughrey 0-1 each.
ATHEA: T. Enright; P. Woulfe, M. Chawke, M. Ahern, J. Hunt, D. Collins, S. Ahern; N. Hunt, T. Mullane; J. Collins, P. Ahern, M. Hayes, B. Ahern, D. White, G. Ahern.
CLAUGHAUN: I. Bennis; A. Moloney, F. Hogan, D. Lavery, G. Power, P. McGarry, N. Downes; T. McGarry, F. Brosnahan; B. Ryan, A. Loughrey, P. Judge, L. O'Connor, M. O'Donoghue, W. Fitzgerald. Sub. F. Glynn for T. McGarry.
Referee: M. Ryan (Askeaton).
Fr Casey's 1-5
FR. CASEY’S, who surprised championship favourites Drom-Broadford in their previous outing, were themselves at the receiving end when losing to Ballylanders.
It is now looking like a play-off in this group between Drom, Casey’s and Ballylanders for two semi-final spots.
The Abbeyfeale side started well with points from John Lenihan (2) and Paddy O’Donnell, but county player John Murphy got Ballylanders moving and they trailed 0-5 to 0-4 at the interval.
Mike Mansell and Murphy, receiving a good supply from midfielders Michael O’Brien and Ger Walsh, dominated the third quarter and at 0-9 to 0-5 ahead looked good for the points.
The scene changed briefly when Tom Fitzgerald hit the target from a penalty for Fr Casey’s but that was to be their only score of the second period. Mike Mansell sent over the insurance point for Bally.
The central figure for the winners was Mike O’Brien, in brilliant form around the middle of the field. O’Brien, who quit the county senior hurling panel, is now to concentrate on football and will almost certainly be part of Liam Kearns’ plans.
Ballylanders scorers: D. Murphy 0-5, M. Mansell 0-4, K. Hickey 0-1.
Fr Casey's: T. Fitzgerald 1-0, J. Lenihan 0-3, P. O'Donnell, K. O'Connor 0-1 each.
BALLYLANDERS: D. O'Connor; M. Meade, D. Dineen, M. Lane, P. Lonergan, E. English, W. Kelly; G. Walsh, M. O'Brien; M. Mansell, E. Murphy, C. Sweeney, DJ Moloney, D. Murphy, K. Hickey.
FR CASEY'S: P. Curtin; S. Murphy, C. McCarthy, S. Lenihan, P. Browne, B. O'Connor, G. O'Connor; R. Scannell, T. Cahill; K. O'Connor, S. McAuliffe, D. Fitzgerald, T. Fitzgerald, J. Lenihan, P. O'Donnell.
Referee: P. Kearney (Limerick).
A last-gasp point from Limerick goalkeeper Seamus O’Donnell from a 45’ free gave St. Kieran’s victory over Adare in the Limerick SFC at Newcastlewest last evening.
In a very tight finish substitute Jim Byrnes, a member of the Limerick U21 team which reached the All-Ireland final three years ago, hit a cracking goal to put Kieran’s ahead 1-10 to 1-9 after 57 minutes.
O’ Donnell, who ended with nine points, opened a three-point gap 1-12 to 1-9 before Conner Fitzgerald who had earlier fluffed a couple of glorious chances hit a spectacular goal from a free to bring them level.
It was then that O’Donnell intervened almost immediately to snatch the victory.
Adare had their first goal after 23 minutes from Michael Clifford and led 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval.
It was mainly thanks to O’Donnell who led the front line that St. Kieran’s kept their championship hopes alive.
Scorers for St. Kierans : S O’Donnell 0-9; J Byrnes 1-0; M Greaney 0-2; A Liston P Wolfe 0-1 each.
Adare : C Fitzgerald 1-6; M Clifford 1-0; D Lavin, B Sexton, L Costello 0-1 each.
ST. KIERANS: T Quinn, B Nolan, P Windle, C O’ Mahony, N Kelly, J McCarthy, N Murphy, P Wolfe, J Donovan, M GReaney, N BNroderick, D Crowley, A Liston, P Histon, S O’ Donnell
Sub: J Byrnes for Histon .
ADARE : B Twomey, N Crowley, JP Healy, D Morden, C Cribben, M Clifford, D Sheehan, J McNamara, A Rahilly, E Fitzgerald, M womey, D Lavin, B Sexton, V Foley, C Fitzgerald.
Sub: L Costello for Twomey.
Referee : Ger Hough (Monaleen).
A SHARE of the spoils was of little help to either Newcastlewest or Hospital Herbertstown in their Limerick SFC game at Ballyagran on Saturday.
Stephen Kelly showed a welcome return to scoring form for the West and it was thanks to his 1-2 that they led 1-5 to 0-4 at the interval.
With county hurling star Damien Reale shining at centre-back for Hospital, they closed ranks at the back on the change of ends and points from Robbie Fenton and a goal from veteran P.J. Garvey saw them claw their way back to finish level.