Munster Senior Club Football Championship Quarter-Final
St Joseph’s Miltown Malbay 1-11
Rathgormack 0-11 (AET)
Rathgormack’s first entry into Munster in 20 years came to an end at the first hurdle at Hennessy Memorial Park in Miltown Malbay on Sunday afternoon last when they lost out to last year’s provincial runners-up to Saint Josephs Miltown Malbay, but not before the game needed extra time to decide on a winner to see who would advance to next weekend’s semi-final clash with Clonmel Commercials.This was as close a game as the final score line might suggest, with Eoin Cleary’s goal in the 21st minute of the first half proving the key score of a game that kept the 1,816 spectators gathered inside the Clare sides own club grounds well entertained for the 80 plus minutes.
The home side may well be disappointed not to have won this game in normal time as Rathgormack had full-back Cathal Crowch sent off after he picked up a second yellow card midway through the second half.
But as has often been seen, Rathgormack did enough with a man less on the field to send the game to extra time, where the home side outscored the Comeragh men four points to one in the added twenty minutes.
Up to the time of Cleary’s 22nd minute goal the pendulum swung in both directions. Kieran Malone and Eoin Cleary shared four early points for the home side but Rathgormack were staying in touch thanks to some superb kicking by Jason Curry with Conor Murray also impressing for the newly crowned Waterford Champions.
The home side however stole a march on their opponents on 22 minutes when the impressive Eoin Cleary found himself unmarked inside the 20 metre line latching on to s Seanie Malone delivery and he billowed the ball in to the top of Padraig Hunt’s net to give his side a 1-4 to 0-4 lead that they never relinquished, although Rathgormack did enough in the remaining time in the opening half to go in at the break trailing by the minimum 1-4 to 0-6.
Rathgormack faired slightly the better of the two sides in the third quarter and looked to be in a good position heading into the final quarter of the game having fought back to draw level. But they suffered a blow with the sending off of Cathal Crowch for a second yellow at the midway point of the second half and when Eoin Cleary pointed twice in the following minutes it was not looking good for the visitors.But as we know it was always going to be a good side that would end the dominance of the big three within the county and Rathgormack are a good side.
Even with a man down they refused to throw in the towel against a side playing on their own patch and were rewarded for their efforts when Conor Murray and Jason Curry landed the scores that sent this game to extra-time.Rathgormack were back up to full strength for extra time sending on Ronan Cahill to replace the red carded Cathal Crowch but the long journey from under the Comeragh Mountains to within two miles of the Atlantic Coast in North West Clare took its toll on the Rathgormack players.
Ger Power’s side failed to score in the opening ten minutes of extra time by which time the hosts had gone three points in front, two of which came from full forward Cormac Murray who was proving a handful for the Rathgormack defence as tiredness set in.Kieran Malone and Jason Curry hit scores for their respective sides in the second half of extra time.Rathgormack continued to press hard for the score or even scores that would send this game to penalties to see who would have home advantage over Clonmel Commercials next Sunday and it looked for a moment that the large support for both sides would witness a rare penalty shoot-out as Rathgormack created one last chance but somehow Michael Curry’s effort managed to stay out of the home sides net.