Not since 1898 had a Doora name been etched into a Clare SFC cup. There were tales of an ageing Kilmurry side that didn’t have the same hunger. And there were the final records.
Last year, Kilmurry blitzed Doora Barefield 0-17 to 0-5 in the final. This year they added the O’Gorman final by four points and the Cusack Cup by three, each at Doora’s expense. The gap was narrowing.
Maybe it would be a historic day.
And in those first few moments it all looked to be coming together for the underdogs. Kilmurry struggled with the pace of the game and early chances were falling Doora Barefield’s way. By the eight minute, though, they hadn’t taken any of those chances. And for the following 22 minutes of the half, Kilmurry-Ibrickane turned on the style.
“We had a couple of chances for two or three frees and I thought we might have had them but it didn’t go our way,” said Tyrone native and St Joseph’s Doora Barefield manager, Mark Rafferty.
“The next thing they go down and get a couple of soft frees and a couple of scores and tack on a few from play and they got a bit of a run on us.”
That run started with a flash. Niall Hickey, Thomas O’Connor and Peter O’Dwyer all fired over scores from long range within 90 seconds of each other. Panic grew within the St Joseph’s camp. They pulled Kevin Dilleen from his sweeper role to pick up Johnny Daly who had been free to operate in a playmaker’s role. Run of the mill hand-passes became ordeals and their kick passing game ceased.
Alan O’Neill, the late replacement picked for his physique on the edge of the square, was pulled out the field. But their biggest regret will be their shooting. It was deplorable.
The failure of those basics encouraged Kilmurry to play to their strengths. They opened up their foes for the second year running to exploit them. Points by Ian McInerney (two), Noel Downes, Johnny Daly and Hickey again gave them a seven-point lead going in at the break.
“I don’t think we deserved to be 0-8 to 0-1 down at half-time because we had played pretty well. We needed to score earlier in the first half than we did,” admitted Rafferty. “They should have probably carried the ball in that little bit further because it wasn’t easy to score into that end.”
The sole St Joseph’s score came in the final seconds of first-half injury time from Cathal O’Sullivan. If he hadn’t raised the white flag, it would have matched the scoreline from last year’s rout.
In the second half they showed glimpses of the team they can be and gave Kilmurry captain Martin McMahon reason — in his victory speech — to suggest they are the up and coming team of Clare football.
Long balls into O’Neill reaped two scores for Cathal Duggan. The defence shut down Kilmurry’s attack and they won the half 0-3 to 0-2. But it mattered little.
“There was a period where we had a couple of bad wides and turned over the ball in their 21-yard line and that was four or five scores and would have brought it back to a two or three-point game,” said Rafferty.
“It was game on then but we missed those chances and the game petered out after that. They got a score after that and that was the difference.”
Scorers for Kilmurry-Ibrickane: N Hickey, I McInerney (3fs), 0-3 each, T O’Connor, P O’Dwyer, N Downes, J Daly (f) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Doora Barefield: C O’Sullivan 0-3 (2fs), C Duggan 0-1 each.
Subs for Kilmurry-Ibrickane: S Murrihy for Talty (49), O O’Dwyer for Daly (50), M McCarthy for P O’Dwyer (58), C Morrissey for McInerney (60).
Subs for Doora Barefield: E Lyons for Malone (23), B Clancy for O’Brien (42), C O’Brien for Hallinan (47), L Brannock for Dullaghan (50), E Clohessy for O’Sullivan (60).
Referee: M Rock (Ennistymon).