Report from The Clare Champion
Under 14A Hurling Championship Final
Clarecastle 2-7 Éire Óg 0-02
at Cusack Park, Ennis (July 26th, 1999)
Treble chasing Éire Óg entered this Under 14 Hurling decider in Cusack Park last Monday night as raging hot favourites, on the strength of their success in the County and All-Ireland Féile na nGael competition.
But the reigning Under 14 champions were left licking their wounds after Clarecastle swooped to score a sensational victory. This was a sweet victory for the Magpies who haven’t won this competition since the early seventies.
Although the Magpies finished just a point adrift of the Townies when these sides met in the Feile Final recently, a lot was expected from the latter who notched some huge tallies on route to their comprehensive victory over famed Glen Rovers in the All-Ireland Final.
But on this occasion, the Reds scoring machine dried up as their deadly rivals shattered the air of invincibility which had surrounded the All Ireland Champions.
Without the services of Gary O’Connell and Mark Brigdale, Éire Óg couldn’t cope with their opponent’s first touch and ball control which helped them to fashion this deserved 11 point victory.
Despite dictating matters for most of the opening twenty minutes, Éire Óg could only manage a point from a James Gallagher free. Gallagher, who would have benefited from a switch with Sean O’Meara, where he would have found it easier to score bursting through from a centre forward position, was off target with a few placed balls while a few of them dropped short.
The rock solid Clarecastle defence where Barry Guinnane, Anthony Griffey and Jamie O’Connor excelled, also snuffed out other scoring opportunities, while Brian Travers and Andrew Page gave them an upper hand at midfield. The winners moved Tyrone Kearse to centre forward after the first quarter and he was followed by Keith Dormer. Kearse succeeded in winning frees which he duly converted to leave his colleagues 0-4 to 0-1 ahead at the break.
Ten minutes into the second period, David Kearney put the Magpies firmly in the driving seat when he raised a green flag. At this stage, the Townies started going for goals when points would have been the best option and their lack of penetration is graphically illustrated by the fact that the only managed another point, their first and only score from play in this half.
Ten minutes later, the unmarked Tyrone Kearse sealed the issue when he collected a quick delivery from the Clarecastle defence and slipped in behind the Éire Óg rearguard to unleash a powerful drive from 20 yards. Niall Dunne who notched two points, also caused some problems for the Éire Óg defence.
Despite the best efforts of Jimmy Smythe, John Quinn, Conor Considine, Sean O’Meara and James Gallagher, Éire Óg never really clicked into gear on this occasion.
Clarecastle: Colin O’Flynn; Emmet Considine, Barry Guinnane, Fergal Griffin; Fiachra Moloney, Anthony Griffey, Jamie O’Connor; Brian Travers, Andrew Page; John Mongon, Jonathon Clancy, David Kearney (1-0); Niall Dunne (Captain) (0-2), Dean Power, Tyrone Kearse (1-5, 5f)
Sub: John O’Donovan for Mongon
Éire Óg: Joe Tracey; Keith Dormer, Eamon O’Reilly, Jimmy Symthe; John Quinn, Conor Considine, Noel Whelan; Ronan Keane, Damien Colman; John O’Driscoll, Sean O’Meara (Captain) (0-1), James Gallagher (0-1f); Fergal Brennan, John O’Loughlin, Brian Hehir
Subs: Colin Heaslip for Brennan, Eoin McNamara for O’Driscoll
Referee: Seanie McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus)