Congrats to the Under 21 hurlers who qualified for the U21B Championship Final after a superb team performance on Saturday. They will meet either O’Callaghan’s Mills or Scariff/Ogonnelloe in the decider after the East Clare duo drew 2-16 to 2-16 after extra-time in their semi-final in Clareabbey on Sunday. That replay is fixed for Sunday week (April 9th), with the final then provisionally set for the Easter weekend.

Thanks to John Power for photo.

Under 21B Championship Semi-Final

Clarecastle 1-15 Cratloe 1-07

at Clonlara

A third successive victory in as many weekends ensured that Clarecastle advanced to the final of the Under 21B Championship on a perfect day for hurling on Saturday.
1-10 from minor Lee Brack was clearly instrumental in the Magpies’ latest triumph, with his 51st minute goal proving the final nail in Cratloe’s coffin as it put clear daylight between the sides.
In essence, Clarecastle’s greater collective work-rate, sharpness and determination was again a key factor as they never allowed Cratloe to settle into their stride and reach the heights of previous displays in what was a disappointing hour for the defending champions.
Cratloe won the toss and elected to play into what was a sizeable breeze considering the glorious sunshine in Clonlara. A more focused Clarecastle hit the first four points through Brack (2), Adam Cassidy and Killian McDermott by the eighth minute but somewhat against the run of play, Cratloe would raid for what seemed a crucial goal only four minutes later.
It stemmed from a Diarmuid Ryan free from halfway that held up perfectly in the wind for Conor McMahon to catch and offload to Billy Connors to billow the net from point blank range at 0-5 to 1-1.
Clarecastle did cancel it out with five of the last six points of the half, four from Brack placed balls after Cratloe’s growing frustration led to indiscipline while also seeing a Cassidy goal chance denied by goalkeeper Eoin O’Kelly. But at 0-10 to 1-02 by the break, it was still a very healthy position for Cratloe as they had the wind to come.
Indeed, their best chance of a lifeline came only three minutes into the new half when Jamie Arthur delivered to Conor McMahon to turn his marker and bear down on goal, only to see his shot drift across goal and wide.
Instead, Clarecastle smothered the defence, with minor Killian McDermott sweeping loose ball around the backline while up the other end, they continued to punish their opponents with Brack frees to move 0-13 to 1-03 clear by the turn of the final quarter.
Cassidy fired a goal chance wide before Billy Connors converted a brace of frees to lower the arrears to five as Cratloe finally found a glimmer of momentum.
However, much like the first half, a goal came at just the wrong time for the wind-assisted side as Cian McNamara’s delivery was excellently fielded by Brack to solo through and find the net at 1-13 to 1-05.
And that was effectively it as despite pushing centre-back Diarmuid Ryan forward to influential effect, the Magpies were able to match them as they held on for a place in the decider, only six months on from 13 of the starting team winning the Minor A title and more than half of those being eligible again for 2017.

Clarecastle: Jake Kearney; Ronan Donnelly, Niall Galvin, Cian Donnelly; Cian McNamara, Hayden Starr, Owen O’Hara; Marc McAuliffe, Cian Crimmins; Jack Murphy (0-2), Lee Brack (1-10, 9f, 1’65), Eoghan Wallace; Killian McDermott (0-1), Adam Cassidy (0-1), Kevin Hartigan
Subs: Colin Brigdale (0-1) for Hartigan (50 mins), Paul Dolan for McNamara (54 mins), Ruairi Crimmins for Cassidy (54 mins), Dean O’Hara for Wallace (60 mins), Darragh Holland for C. Crimmins (60 mins)

Cratloe: Eoin O’Kelly; Richie Murray, Aaron Costigan, Evan Keogh; Caimin Deegan, Diarmuid Ryan (0-3 1f), Jamie Arthur; Ciaran O’Connor, Gordon O’Neill; Darragh Cunningham, Rian Considine, Michael Danaher; Billy Connors (1-4 3f), Conor McMahon, Jack McInerney
Subs: Eamon Organ for Danaher (45 mins), Emmet Costigan for Murray (54 mins), Enda O’Connor for McInerney (54 mins)

Referee: Johnny Healy (Smith O’Brien’s)