Inagh/Kilnamona defeated Crusheen by a tight margin after a poor first half. Pre-match predictions had this as one the first round potboilers however the first half was a lifeless affair. After the interval the game developed into an enjoyable contest but only after Inagh/Kilnamona had surged clear and Crusheen were forced to chase the game.
Clare Senior Hurling Championship
Inagh/Kilnamona 2-12 Crusheen 2-10
After referee Ambrose Heagney threw the ball in, Colin Vaughan was first out of the traps with a nicely taken point before Evan McNamara hit back for the Mid Clare men.
Inagh Kilnamona were unfortunate to lose veteran corner forward Tomas Kelly after just 20 minutes with a hamstring injury. Fergus Kennedy and David Fitzgerald swopped scores by the 6th minute as Crusheen were playing deep. Conor Tierney sent over a long range free after nine minutes before Conor O’Donnell grabbed his only score of the evening to level proceedings for the third time in the 11th minute.
Two points inside one minute from Conor Tierney and Seamus Foudy stretched Inagh/Kilnamona’s lead by the end of the opening quarter of a low key opening 30 minutes. The sides drew level on 0-5 apiece, after points from Pat Vaughan and Kennedy with 19 minutes played.
During the last ten minutes of the first half both sides managed just three scores but one was to prove vital to the overall outcome of the game. Evan McNamara’s point in the 22nd was followed by another from Shaun Dillon three minutes later as the sides were level the fourth time.
The crucial score came from a sideline cut by Evan McNamara that went all the way to the Crusheen net on the stroke of half time. Paul Gannon’s men took a 1-6 to 0-6 lead into the break.
Entering the second half both sides had everything to play for. Conor Tierney sent over a point from a free before David Fitzgerald raced through and squeezed the ball past goalkeeper Donal Touhy at the second attempt.
This was quickly added to by another Tierney score as Inagh/Kilnamona led by 2-8 to 0-6 ten minutes into the second half. It was now or never for Crusheen to resurrect their famous battling qualities. Pat Vaughan struck for two points, one from a free, before Donal Touhy added a penalty goal to reduce the deficit to 2-8 to 1-8.
Inagh-Kilnamona rallied with Evan McNamara restoring a four point advantage before points from Pat Vaughan and a Conor Tierney 65. By the final ten minutes three points was the difference following a Vaughan free on 57 minutes.
Crusheen needed a goal to force extra time but the game turned when David Fitzgerald and Evan McNamara stretched their side five points clear.
In the 61st minute Cian Dillon finally struck for a goal, but it was all too late as Inagh/Kilnamona progress to the winners round to be played later in the summer.
Best for the Inagh/Kilnamona were David Fitzgerald, Evan McNamara, Colm Pilkington, Seamus Foudy, Conor Tierney, Kevin Hehir, Damien Lafferty and Milo Keane. In Pat Vaughan, Crusheen had probably the best hurler on the field, he was supported by Cathal Dillon, Shaun Dillon, Gerry O’Grady, Alan Brigdale, Fergus Kennedy in patches and Jason Greene.