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Sixmilebridge see off 2014 Munster finalists Cratloe in Clare senior hurler thriller

Clonlara, Kilmaley and Crusheen booked semi-final places yesterday.

Niall Gilligan was part of the triumphant Sixmilebridge team.
Niall Gilligan was part of the triumphant Sixmilebridge team.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

THE BATTLE OF the last two Clare senior hurling champions eventually went Sixmilebridge’s way today as they dethroned holders Cratloe by 1-20 to 1-19 to book their semi-final place against Crusheen in a fortnight’s time.

The other semi-final will see Kilmaley and Clonlara, quarter-final victors yesterday, in opposition.

The narrative of today’s Garneyside derby, the fifth in the last six championships, altered irrevocably in the opening minutes when Cratloe’s chief marksman and former All Star Conor McGrath was red-carded for an off-the-ball incident with Paidí Fitzpatrick.

That allied to an Alan Mulready goal at the end of the opening quarter saw 2013 winners Sixmilebridge push six points clear.

Conor McGrath Conor McGrath was sent-off today for Cratloe Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However, true to form, the defending champions dug deep, boosted by a Sean Collins goal to only trail by the minimum at the break at 1-9 to 1-8.

With Niall Gilligan typically unerring from placed balls, Sixmilebridge restored a five point advantage and while a gallant Cratloe, led by Shane Gleeson, whittled it down to a single point once more, time ultimately ran out for the holders.

Crusheen, Clonlara and Kilmaley all advanced to the semi-final stage with quarter-finals win yesterday.

Kilmaley reached their first semi-final in four years following a thrilling extra-time revenge mission over Ballyea, with Eamonn Bracken’s last-minute goal ensuring a 2-18 to 2-17 victory.

Ballyea, thanks to 12 points from former National Player and Young Player of the Year Tony Kelly, had overcome their neighbours in Round 2 but a more determined Kilmaley led from the outset backed by a Mikey O’Neill goal to lead by 1-9 to 0-8 at the break.

That goal would continue to prove the difference as the second half developed until a Tony Kelly 50th-minute penalty levelled up the tie.

Tony Kelly Tony Kelly was part of the Ballyea team in action yesterday Source: James Crombie/INPHO

David Egan appeared to give Ballyea the impetus in extra-time with a goal, only for Bracken’s last gasp reply completed Kilmaley’s revenge mission.

Nine points from Micheál O’Loughlin saw Clonlara overpower 2012 champions Newmarket-on-Fergus by 0-19 to 0-10 in the final quarter-final in Cusack Park yesterday

Level at 0-7 to 0-7 at the break with Colin Ryan scoring all of Newmarket’s tally, Clonlara dominated the second half to outscore their 2008 final opponents by 0-12 to 0-03 in the second half.

Colin Ryan Colin Ryan featured for Newmarket-on-Fergus yesterday Source: James Crombie/INPHO

 

O’Loughlin (5), Cathal O’Connell (2), Oisin O’Brien (2) and singles from Ian Galvin, Cormac O’Donovan and county senior Darach Honan all shared the scoring responsibilities as Clonlara reached the last four for the seventh time in eight years.

Coincidentally, Clonlara’s only blip came in the 2011 quarter-final when edged out by semi-final opponents Kilmaley.

Last year’s finalists Crusheen returned to the last four following a 1-17 to 1-12 win over Clooney-Quin in the opening game in Clare headquarters. A Gearoid O’Donnell ninth minute goal set the 2010/11 winners on their way to a 1-9 to 0-6 half-time advantage.

And they actually increased that advantage to nine entering the final quarter before a late Peter Duggan penalty lowered the final margin. Crusheen will now face the winners of Cratloe and Sixmilebridge in the semi-final.

Bobby Duggan Bobby Duggan bagged 0-12 for Clarecastle Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

At the other end of the championship, 11 times county senior champions Clarecastle survived a relegation scare when eventually easing to a 1-19 to 0-14 victory over Tubber.

County senior Bobby Duggan led the way for the Magpies with 12 points while Clare Under 21 team-mate Stephen Ward grabbed the clinching goal to consolidate Clarecastle’s senior status and relegate Tubber to intermediate level for 2016.

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Eoin Brennan

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