The champions, seeking a third title in a row, led by 0-7 to 0-1 after 20 minutes. The game’s only goal was scored by Broadford’s Cathal Chaplin in the 27th, to leave his team trailing by 0-8 to 1-4 at the break. In the second half, the champs opened up a four-point lead but the East Clare club hit four unanswered scores to level matters by the 56th minute. Crusheen then recorded two quick points from frees by Pat Vaughan before Chaplin made it a one-point game in injury-time.
With almost four minutes of added time played, Hickey unerringly split the posts to leave the game tied at 1-12 to Crusheen’s 0-15.
In the same Group 2 at Clarecastle on Saturday, fancied Newmarket-on-Fergus had to fight all the way to record a slender 0-12 to 0-11 victory over Tulla. Also at Clarecastle on Saturday, Inagh-Kilnamona overcame Clooney-Quin in Group 1 1-10 to 1-8.
Later on at Cusack Park, the other two sides in the group, Kilmaley and Clarecastle faced each other. Kilmaley emerged with both points when they finished 1-13 to 0-13 in front. The sides were locked at 0-6 apiece at the break. The turning point was Kilmaley’s goal in the 34th minute. Alan Markham provided a fine pass to Michael O’Neill, who found the net to set up a deserved win.
At Shannon on Saturday, in Group 3, 2008 champions Clonlara proved way too strong for St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield, beating them 1-19 to 0-9. Half-time Clonlara substitute Darach Honan produced the all-important goal in the 34th minute.
For many, this particular group was seen as one of the most competitive, so the meeting of near neighbours Sixmilebridge at Cusack Park on Saturday evening attracted serious interest. On the night, Cratloe, champions three years ago, indicated they are real contenders this season when they recorded a deserved 2-17 to 1-12 victory. From the throw-in they looked hungrier and enjoyed a worthy 1-5 to 0-2 lead after just 17 minutes. Lively corner-forward Cathal McInerney had grabbed the game’s first goal after 15 minutes and his side took a 1-8 to 0-6 advantage with them to the dressing room at the whistle. Cratloe forged ahead in the second period but the ‘Bridge were thrown a lifeline 14 minutes in, when Declan Morey’s shot from the left wing looped over Cratloe goalie Sean Hayes, for a soft goal to put five points between them. But Cratloe hit back with a well-taken Damien Browne to run out eight-point winners.
In the Senior B championship, O’Callaghan’s Mills drew with Ballyea while there were wins for Scariff, Éire Óg and Tubber over Wolfe Tones, Whitegate and Smith O’Brien’s respectively.