Newmarket had the edge over Clooney Quin in this clash between one team that avoided disaster in 2016 and another that ran the All Ireland finalists to a point. This year the formline was reversed with Newmarket on Fergus safe and Clooney/Quin heading to the losers round after a three point defeat in the opening game of a triple header at Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon.
Clare Senior Hurling Championship Round 1
Newmarket 1-16 Clooney Quin 1-13
Ryan Taylor scored with the opening attack before a Peter Duggan free from his own 50 yard line floated over the Newmarket crossbar. Colin Ryan was on target with five minutes played to settle nerves as Clooney/Quin began with far more intent before a sparse attendance in Cusack Park.
Cillian Duggan got on the end of Peter Duggan’s pass for a well taken goal in the 8th minute, after scoring a point. Newmarket were five in arrears, fortunately for them Clooney/Quin spent the next ten minutes wasting chances. The Blues hit back with a Mikey McInerney ground stroke that rocketed over the crossbar.
Between the 13th and 20th minutes Newmarket outscored their opponents by 3-2 with Colin Ryan (2) and Stephen Kelly on target in response to two Peter Duggan frees. As the half matured and the rain fell, Newmarket gotto grips with the Clooney/Quin challenge without scoring much.
Clooney/Quin’s aerial threat was neutralised by had-hitting Newmarket defensive work. Duggan sent over a free on 21 minutes putting Clooney/Quin four clear. This was as good as it got for Dave Barry’s side as Newmarket struck three in a row from Ryan (2) and Stephen Kelly.
A very entertaining first half ended with Clooney/Quin leading by the minimum, 1-6 to 0-8. Disaster struck inside the first four minutes of the new half when Newmarket tallied 1-3. Colin Ryan accounted for 1-2 after blasting past the goalie from Eoin Hayes deft ground flick.
Clooney’s defence was in difficulty as Shane O’Brien added another Newmarket point to make it 1-11 to 1-6. Peter Duggan rallied with two before Ronan Goode hit back for the Blues. Clooney/Quin introduced Mike Daffy and Padraig Ward for Ronan O’Donnell and Tadgh Shanahan.
Clooney/Quin urgently needed goals to get back into the game. Ryan Taylor narrowed the deficit to three but two points from international soccer star Stephen Kelly and Colin Ryan’s 48th minute free left Newmarket ahead by 1-15 to 1-9 entering the final 12 minutes.
A brace of frees and a stunning point from play by Duggan narrowed the deficit to three with seven minutes remaining. Colin Guilfoyle sent a goal chance just wide in the 54th minute. It was all Clooney/Quin for the remainder though both sides sent chances abegging.
Duggan and Ryan exchanged points as Clooney needed a goal to force extra time but it was not. A game that had threatened to boil over ended tamely.
Best for the winners were James McInerney, Niall O’Connor, Evan Keogh, Ronan Goode, Enda Barrett, Colin Ryan, Stephen Kelly and Eoin Hayes.
Peter Duggan led the way for Clooney/Quin but received little support from the remaining forwards. Ryan Taylor, Conor Harrison and Cillian Duggan offered most resistance to Newmarket.