Clare SFC final
Played in front of a crowd of 4,916, this game never really sparkled until after the break. Following a dull enough opening half Kilmurry held a two-point advantage, 0-6 to 0-4. The game hung in the balance until the 55th minute when substitute and veteran Peter O’Dwyer grabbed the game’s only goal with a low shot to the corner of Clondegad keeper Liam Deasy’s net.
After winning his first senior championship medal, Kilmurry attacker Dermot Coughlan was full of praise for his club and team-mates. “It’s a great feeling to win a championship with those bunch of lads,” said the 17-year-old. “When I was growing up, that’s all I dreamed of and thankfully I was lucky to be part of a team that won it in my first year here. In the semi-final we were written off and what we love most is the battle. We got into a battle again and thankfully we came out on top.”
Kilmurry hit the ground running and lead by three points to nil by the 11th minute, thanks to scores by Keelan Sexton (a free), Dermot Coughlan and Darragh Sexton. Clondegad registered their first score, a point from play by Clare hurler Tony Kelly in the 12th minute. Gearoid O’Connell then added another to make it a one-point game by the mid-point of the half. The sides were level at four apiece but late scores by Keelan Sexton and goalkeeper Ian McInerney put the champs in the driving seat at half-time.
Kelly narrowed the gap with an early second-half point for Clondegad and there was never more than three points between the sides until the telling goal by O’Dwyer. Appearing in his tenth county final, the veteran netted with his first touch following a good run by Noel Downes. That put the champions 1-13 to 0-10 ahead. Clondegad never gave up though and picked four further scores through Podge McMahon (three frees) and a point from play by Eoghan Donnellan. But Noel Downes kicked Kilmurry’s last score to send the cup back to West Clare.
After the game, Clondegad midfielder and International Rules player Gary Brennan admitted his side weren’t at their best: “We battled but we lost. We haven’t been into too many finals but it’s very disappointing. I suppose the feeling is that we could have done a bit better. It’s fine margins playing at this level, you have to get everything right. Several things didn’t go our way and they took their chances.”
K Sexton (0-5, 2 fs), I McInerney (0-4 frees), P O’Dwyer (1-0), S Moloney (0-2), N Downes, D Sexton, D Coughlan (0-1 each).
P McMahon (0-4, 3 frees); T Kelly (0-3), E Donnellan (0-2), G Brennan (0-2, 1 free); T Lynch, S Brennan, G O’Connell (0-1 each).
I McInerney, Darragh Sexton, D Hickey, M Killeen, S Hickey, M McMahon (Capt.), E Talty, M McCarthy, K King, M Hogan, S Moloney, N Hickey, E Coughlan, K Sexton, D Coughlan.
Subs, T Lernihan for Talty inj. (22), M O’Dwyer for Hogan (40), N Downes for N Hickey (43), P O’Dwyer for McCarthy (53), E Bracken for Moloney (58), Darren Sexton for K Sexton (66).
L Deasy, B Carrigg, C Brennan, B Casey, B Murphy, C Ryan, C Gavin, G Brennan, J Murphy, T Lynch, G O’Connell, T Kelly, P McMahon, S Brennan (Capt.), E Donnellan.
R Jennings for J Murphy (h/t), J Neylon for Lynch (40), N Lynch for B Murphy (46), N Deasy for Ryan (53).
P Cosgrave (Corofin)