Clooney-Quin is the surprise package this year and will seriously be contenders for the 2017 championship if more of their forwards can help with the scoring.

Clare Senior Hurling Championship Semi FinalClooney-Quin 0-16 Clonlara 0-14

Peter Duggan’s contribution of 0-13 led his team to victory in this semi-final win over a fancied Clonlara side that contested the past two finals. Clooney-Quin emerged as deserving winners to seal their final place in a game in which they were never behind.

They dominated proceedings in all but a ten minute period of the final quarter when they allowed Clonlara five scores in a row to come to within a point.  But it was as good as it got for Clonlara whose indiscipline, the concession of needless frees plus few of their marquee players played up to their best standards.

Jimmy Corry gave the winners the lead inside the first minute and Peter Duggan struck in the second before Ian Galvin opened Clonlara’s account. Galvin was the South Clare side’s standout player in the first half but faded after the break costing Clonlara their most effective forward.

Clooney Quin goalkeeper Keith Hogan produces a great save late in the game to secure victory.

Clooney Quin goalkeeper Keith Hogan produces a great save late in the game to secure victory.

The sides were level on four occasions in the first half at the end of which Clooney-Quin were two points clear, 0-9 to 0-7. The winners should have built a greater lead by the interval but Duggan failed to find the target from a couple of frees in the first quarter.

They also missed a great goal chance in this period when Ger O’Connell was quickly off his line to deny Ronan O’Donnell who looked certain to find the net. Had Clooney/Quin worked this goal the second half would have been a non-event.

Clonlara closed the gap to the minimum in the second minute of the new half but that was as good as it got for the South Clare outfit. Duggan kept the scoreboard ticking over with a hat-trick of points before the tenth minute by which time three Clonlara players had been shown yellow cards.

Clooney-Quin were clearly growing in confidence and were five clear as the game entered the final quarter. Another Duggan free stretched the lead to half six with twelve minutes remaining as Clonlara were hanging on for their championship lives.

The introduction of Cian Moriarty helped land Clonlara five points in as many minutes so that they trailed by the minimum with six minutes left. Momentum appeared to be with the finalists of the last two years but a Duggan point from a 70m free lifted Clooney-Quin two points clear.

Four minutes of ‘injury time’ were signalled,  a foul on substitute Micheál O’Loughlin gave Clonlara a 20m free with seconds remaining. Colm Galvin’s goal effort was saved by Keith Hogan and the final whistle set off tremendous celebrations amongst the Clooney-Quin players, officials and followers as their dream of contesting a county final became a reality after 74 years.

Shane McNamara, Bryan McInerney, Donnacha Murphy, Jimmy Corry, Conor Harrison, Cillian Duggan, Ryan Taylor and Peter Duggan stood out for the winners while Gareth Kennedy, Cian Moriarty, Domhnall O’Donovan, Colm Galvin, Cathal O’Connell and Ian Galvin were best for Clonlara.

CLOONEY/QUIN: Keith Hogan; Bryan McInerney, Shane McNamara, Ruaidhri McNamara; Conor Harrison ,Cillian Duggan, Padraig Ward; Donnacha Murphy Ryan Taylor (0-1); Tadhg Shanahan, Michael Corry, Peter Duggan (0-13, 12 frees) Ronan O’Donnell (0-1), Fergal Lynch, Jimmy Corry (0-1). SUB: Michael Daffy for Shanahan.

CLONLARA: Ger O’Connell; Mike White, Gareth Kennedy, Paul McNamara; Domhnall O’Donovan, Colm Galvin (0-1), Cillian Fennessy; Ian Galvin (0-3), John Conlon (0-1); Ken Haskett (0-1), Nicky O’Connell, Padraic O’Loughlin; Cormac O’Donovan (0-1), Cathal O’Connell (0-6), Kieran Galvin. SUBS: Cian Moriarty (0-1) for K. Galvin; James Hastings for P. O’Loughlin; Ciaran Downey for Haskett; Micheál O’Loughlin for C. O’Donovan.

Referee; Johnnie Healy (Smith O’Briens).