Bridge oust Cratloe as Kilmaley edge Ballyea

Clare SHC quarter-finals. Champions Cratloe are out of the Clare SHC, defeated yesterday at Cusack Park by Sixmilebridge, 1-20 to 1-19.

The main talking point was the sending off of Cratloe’s All-Star forward Conor McGrath after only three minutes.

Few, if any, in the ground saw the incident that led to his dismissal, but the decision had a major bearing in the outcome of the game.

The ’Bridge had two scores on the board through Cathal Malone and Alan Mulready early on and just shaded it, 1-9 to 1-8 at the half.

Mulready kicked to the Cratloe net on 13 minutes, while a Seán Collins goal nine minutes later kept Cratloe in the hunt.

Veteran Niall Gilligan produced six vital points for Sixmilebridge over the hour and when Alex Morey fired over a long-range point with five minutes remaining, he put five between them.

Cratloe rallied to hit the last four scores but it proved not enough to earn them a semi-final place.

Last year’s beaten finalists, Crusheen, were the first side of the weekend to book a semi-final spot, when they had a 1-17 to 1-12 win over Clooney-Quin on Saturday. The champions of 2010 and 2011, led by 1-9 to 0-6, at the break.

Gearóid O’Donnell grabbed the Crusheen goal early in the half, in a poor encounter that saw the winners dominate throughout.

Clooney-Quin got their second-half goal from a penalty when inter-county man Peter Duggan converted.

In Ennis, Kilmaley edged out near neighbours Ballyea by a single point after a quarter-final classic that went to extra-time.

It finished Kilmaley 2-18 Ballyea 2-17.

In a dramatic ending, Kilmaley’s Eamon Bracken’s goal proved the difference.

At the end of the opening half hour, a fancied Ballyea trailed by 1-9 to 0-8 after Michael O’Neill produced the game’s opening goal in the 12th minute.

After the break, Kilmaley continued to set the pace and with 11 minutes remaining they led 1-11 to 0-11.

However, former hurler of the year Tony Kelly goaled from a Ballyea penalty to level matters.

Kilmaley’s Brian Cahill and Ballyea’s Niall Deasy exchanged points before Kelly fired over in injury time to seemingly seal victory for Ballyea.

But a Cian Moloney pointed free at the death sent the tie into extra-time.

Following 10 minutes of play Ballyea held the aces and enjoyed a 2-14 to 1-15 advantage.

Substitute David Egan fired to the Kilmaley net close to the whistle, putting his side in the driving seat at half-time in extra-time.

Tony Kelly put three between them at the beginning of the final period.

Kelly once more and Niall Deasy for Ballyea plus Kilmaley points by Daire Keane twice, and Michael O’Malley left two between them with time almost up.

Then up popped hero and re-introduced sub Bracken, who poached the winning goal to send Kilmaley into the semis and a chance to earn a title last won in 2004.

Kilmaley will face Clonlara in the semi-final.

The club from South-East Clare enjoyed a nine point victory over Newmarket-on-Fergus on Saturday (0-19 to 0-10).

Newmarket were a pale shade of the side that captured the title in 2012 and over the hour only produced two scores from play.

Colin Ryan knocked over the other eight from placed balls.

Clonlara manager Sean Stack introduced brothers Colm and Ian Galvin at the beginning of the second half and their influenced helped to steer a successful course as the game progressed.


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