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Clare Champion Cup Final
Kilmaley bridge a twenty year gap 

By Seamus Hayes 

Kilmaley 0-11 Clarecastle 0-7

Like all G.A.A. leagues, be it at club or County level, the Clare Champion cup (Clare senior hurling league) may not be the attraction it once was but this year's final managed to produce some lively exchanges at Dr. Daly Park, Tulla on Monday. 
At the end of the hour's play, Kilmaley had four points to spare over Clarecastle and so the cup returned to their parish for the first time since 1981 when they beat Tubber in the final at the same venue. 
A strong final quarter, during which they scored four points without reply, decided this game which was played in bright sunshine but rather difficult underfoot conditions due to the length of the grass. 
This was Clarecastle's first competitive game since being knocked out of the senior championship two months ago. Kilmaley had the benefit of two games against Tubber in the semi-final and these matches certainly helped Martin Meehan's outfit. 
It was clear from an early stage that this would be a close affair. Clarecastle were first to score through Derek Quinn and they added a second point from Ken Ralph in the fifth minute. 
The game was eight minutes old before Colin Lynch opened the winner's account following a good move with Conor Clancy. 
Eric Flynn and Lynch exchanged points to leave the Magpies in front by the odd point in five with nineteen minutes gone. 
Kilmaley supporters must have been a little worried at this stage as they had missed a number of good scoring opportunities. 
Points from Ken Ralph (free) and Eric Flynn edged the Magpies into a three point lead after twenty-one minutes but they weren't to score again in the half. 
By now Diarmuid McMahon had thundered into the game at centre back for the winners and with Eibhear Slattery and Colin Lynch taking control at midfield, the winners attacked on a regular basis. 
Conor Clancy and Alan Markham (twice) pointed to level matters at 0-5 each with five minutes to go to the break. They took the lead for the first time just on the stroke of half time when team captain Conor Clancy pointed. 
Both sides made changes for the second half with Kilmaley bringing Seamus Murphy in at wing back in place of Ger Commane while Clarecastle introduced Brien Lynch in place of Sean Moloney. 
Kilmaley started the second half as they had finished the first and they went two points clear when Brian Healy pointed. 
The Magpies fought back and points from Ken Ralph (free) and Eric Flynn had the teams level after eleven minutes. 
This proved to be Clarecastle's last score despite the fact that they had a few chances in the remaining time. 
Three minutes into the second half, Kilmaley had introduced Jacko Nealon at wing back in place of Gerry Hayes and they quickly followed this with the introduction of Conor McMahon for Anthony Cahill. As the third quarter drew to a close, Dermot Nealon was sent in at wing forward in place of John McMahon. 
A foul on Colin Lynch presented Alan Markham with the chance to put his side back in front and this he duly did as the final quarter got underway. 
Lynch followed with his third point almost immediately and soon afterwards, his midfielder partner Eibhear Slattery put three points between the sides. 
In an effort to get back into contention, Clarecastle moved full back Martin Sheedy to the attack but Kilmaley were on top at this stage. 
Exchanges got a little lively and referee Seanie McMahon issued a few yellow cards. Having earlier missed a good chance, Alan Markham put his side four points clear when he pointed a 40m free two minutes from the end. 
Best for the winners who will have the Clare Champion cup beside the junior A trophy at their end of year celebration, were the full back trio of Anthony Coote, who excelled throughout, Terry Kennedy and Eoin Burke, Diarmuid McMahon, Eibhear Slattery, Colin Lynch, Conor Clancy and Alan Markham. 
The Sheedy brothers Martin and Stephen and Anthony Daly did well in the Clarecastle backline while Eric Flynn was the best of their attack. 
After the game, Clare County Board Chairman Fr. Michael McNamara, a native of Kilmaley, presented the cup to loyal Kilmaley clubman John McMahon who was nominated by team captain, Conor Clancy to accept the trophy. 

Scorers - Kilmaley: Alan Markham (0-4), 2 frees; Colin Lynch (0-3) Conor Clancy (O-2), Brian Healy and Eibhear Slattery (0-1) each. 
Clarecastle: Eric Flynn (0-3) Ken Ralph (0-3), all frees; Derek Quinn (0-1). 

Kilmaley: Ciaran Dillon; Anthony Coote, Terry Kennedy, Eoin Burke; Ger Commane, Diarmuid McMahon, Gerry Hayes; Eibhear Slattery, Colin Lynch; John McMahon, Conor Clancy, Alan Markham; Anthony Cahill, Brian McMahon, Brian Healy; 
Subs.: Seamus Murphy for Commane; Jacko Nealon for Hayes; Conor McMahon for Cahill; Dermot Nealon for J. McMahon. 

Clarecastle: John Casey; Ger Canny, Martin Sheedy, Bernard Scanlan; Oliver Plunkett, Stephen Sheedy, Anthony Daly; Gary Farmer, Conor Plunkett; Paul Tuohy, Eric Flynn, Alan O'Loughlin, Ken Ralph, Seanie Moloney, Derek Quinn. 
Subs.: Brian Lynch for Moloney; Gareth Barry for Farmer. 

Referee: Seanie Mc-Mahon, Newmarket-on-Fergus.


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