HUNGER is a wonderful weapon ZNO MAY Z- 0c O Olom OPM ODUB Ko EO NG oMOLe AY (oe) f these two sides on Sunday evening at county headquarters as Cooraclare landed their first Cusack Cup title in five years against a shell-shocked Kalmurry Ibrickane.
The county champions and outgo- ing Cusack Cup holders were in this state of mind because they had just tasted defeat for the first time in 40 games across the three senior com- petitions up for grabs in Clare – the Cusack Cup, O’Gorman Cup and county championship – that lasted as far back to September 2007 when they were beaten by Wolfe Tones at the county championship quarter-fi- OED MSL beXes
They lost because they kicked some very bad wides and spurned two gilt- edged goal chances in the last three minutes, but they also lost because they couldn’t summon the same hun- ger as Cooraclare.
Their raw enthusiasm for this game, from start to finish was the real win-
ner, while the backing chorus of a raucous support from the stand also helped get them over the line.
Put simply, this final meant more to the men in blue than it did to those in green and red – you could go so far as to say that it was Cooraclare’s great- est Cusack Cup performance since the winter’s day in 1992 when they beat Doonbeg in a memorable final on their home patch.
This was equally as memorable from Cooraclare’s point of view, pri- marily because of where this team has come from in such a short space OME BD baler
Remember, they were champion- ship chumps for five years from 2005 to 2008, but now they’re back with a bang as Cusack Cup champions for the 11th time and real challengers to Kilmurry I[brickane’s championship throne.
Once they recovered from a slow and nervy start when Mark McCa- rthy and Michael Hogan put points on the board inside four minutes, Cooraclare showed a real steel about them in bringing Kilmurry’s remark-
able run to an end.
Thomas Donnellan’s crunching shoulder on Stephen Moloney set the tone early on, while Cooraclare really settled down to their Herculean task when Sean Maguire opened their ac- count in the seventh minute pointed a rebound off a good goal chance for Hughie Donnelly over the bar.
Peter O’Dwyer burst through the middle in the ninth minute and fired over a great point to give Kilmurry a Q-3 to O-1 lead, but points by Declan McMahon and Cathal Lillis by the 11th had the sides level.
Kilmurry were now awake to the reality that this would be a real con- test and with a championship fervour about it, but they still looked com- fortable when Ian McInerney non- chalantly knocked over a free from 55 yards and when Mark McCarthy did likewise with a 45 to give them a O-5 to 0-3 lead by the 15th minute.
However, what happened in the closing 15 minutes was where this Cusack Cup final turned. Mark Tu- bridy landed two monster points by the 23rd minute – one from play and
another from the sideline to square matters.
They were maximising the chances, Kilmurry were most definitely not as Stephen Moloney, Johnny Daly and Peter O’Dwyer were all guilty of bad misses before Conor Marrinan raided from wing-back in the 29th minute to point Cooraclare into a 0-6 to 0-5 half-time lead.
You sensed that collectively all of Cooraclare believed and that went for those on the field and those looking on. And, this feeling was hammered home in the first four minutes after the restart when the sky blues took to their task of playing against the wind with gusto, landing points through Mark Tubridy and Pauric O’ Looney to move 0-8 to O-5 clear.
Kilmurry were rattled for the first DDONCoD UM OUC- Tucan SUO Cem OelemO)eloueNDOTcamOrcDEN hour against Kilkee in their 2008 championship opener, and in truth they never really recovered from this early Cooraclare blitz.
They were always playing catch-up, and though they knuckled down to this task admirably and drew level
with points from an lan McInerney free in the eighth minute, a point from play by Enda Coughlan in the tenth and another free from Johnny Daly in the 17th minute, Cooraclare were always going to come again.
They did in the 20th minute when Declan Keane pointed a 21-yard free to put them 0-9 to 0-8 ahead entering the last ten minutes.
It was then that they rode their luck, weathering the Kilmurry onslaught for seven minutes before the inevita- ble equaliser came through Michael O’ Dwyer – it should have been a goal though as he blazed over when put through by Paul O’Connor.
A Kilmurry win looked on the cards at that stage but credit the fighting qualities of Cooraclare once more, with two points from two raids VOM MaomEloOr
Substitute John O’Looney got both of them, the first from play, the sec- ond a free as Cooraclare moved two points clear in the 62nd minute.
There was still time for Kilmurry and one last attack coughed up their best goal chance of the day – Mark Killeen was one-on-one with his namesake Joe Killeen.
TM Tom eloec nee hana HOMO BU U BEDI aT- Ae as he turned the ball over the bar to keep Cooraclare ahead.
All that was left was the final whis- tle that greeted his kickout after that score.
Cooraclare’s celebrations were big- gining – Kilmurry’s great run was finally over.
It could be the making of Kilmurry Ibrickane though, albeit that Coora- clare are convinved it could be the making of their championship chal- lenge.