Jack is back with the Bricks. Yes, Kilmurry Ibrickane laid claim to the Jack Daly Cup for the 15th time with the only goal of the game proving decisive in this year’s senior football final.
Clare Senior Football Championship Final: Kilmurry Ibrickane 1-14 Clondegad 0-14
Clondegad’s maiden county final appearance ended in heartbreak when they were punished for a lapse in concentration that led to the only goal sending the Jack Daly Cup back to the last year’s champions.
Clondegad hit hard early on with James Murphy entering referee Pat Cosgrove’s notebook in just the second minute before Keelan Sexton opening the scoring from a free.
The Kilmurry Ibrickane backs were out first to the ball leaving Clondegad forwards out of sorts. Dermot Coughlan and Darragh Sexton added points to send the reigning champions three clear before Tony Kelly got Clondegad on the scoresheet after 12 minutes.
Gearoid O’Connell had a glorious right-footed point in the 14th minute but Stephen Moloney responded in like fashion by the 18th minute.
Evan Talty was forced to retire early from a head injury before Gary Brennan set up Tadgh Lynch for a 23rd-minute equaliser.
With four minutes of injury time at the end of the first half, Stephen Moloney won a free that was converted by Keelan Sexton to go a point clear before goalkeeper Ian McInerney sent over a free as both sides ended the half with ten wides leaving Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-6 to 0-4 ahead at the interval.
There were just two minutes gone in the second half when both sides were on the scoresheet as Kilmurry hit two courtesy of Keelan Sexton and Stephen Moloney while Tony Kelly responded with his side’s first score of the new half.
Sexton and Kelly, with his third point, were on target to leave two points between the sides before Podge McMahon made the most of a half chance to punch the ball over leaving the minimum between the sides.
A crossfield pass from Shane Brennan fell to Eoghan Donnellan who sent over an equaliser before Keelan Sexton raced clear to restore his side’s supremacy on the scoreboard.
As the game trundled into the final quarter Keelan Sexton, Ian McInerney (free) and Noel Downes added to a 0-11 to a 0-8 lead for the championship favourites.
With ten minutes remaining, Dermot Coughlan set up Michael O’Dwyer for a well-taken point sandwiched between points from the Brennan brothers, Gary and Shane.
It was as close as it got for Mike Hehir’s men. Ian McInerney kicked a free to restore a three-point lead for Kilmurry and Peter O’Dwyer scored the all-important goal with his first touch sending the ball past Liam Deasy to send Kilmurry six clear.
Podge McMahon narrowed the gap to five before Martin McMahon’s perfectly weighted handpass set up Noel Downes but his effort came off the Clondegad post. From the next Clondegad attack Eoghan Donnellan made no mistake as now only four points separated the sides.
Peter O’Dwyer and Joe Neylon were sent to the line with red cards. Podge McMahon struck for a Clondegad point but Noel Downes kicked the insurance score for Kilmurry after the end of normal time.
Referee Pat Cosgrove played almost nearly 9 minutes of injury time before the final score fell to another McMahon free.
Best of the champions included Darren Hickey, team captain Martin McMahon, Keith King, Stephen Moloney, Enda Coughlan, Keelan Sexton and Dermot Coughlan.
Clondegad showed enough fire and effort to indicate that they will be contenders in the seasons to come with a squad now used to county final fare.
Following the game, the Jack Daly senior football championship cup was presented by county board chairman Joe Cooney to Kilmurry Ibrickane captain Martin McMahon. Enda Coughlan received the man of the match award while Cratloe’s Cathal McInerney was celebrated as the championship’s top scorer in 2017.