Three into two doesn’t go as Sixmilebridge, Crusheen and Cratloe are quickly finding out in both the Clare Cup and Championship. It’s advantage Crusheen and Cratloe in the championship but all three are on an equal footing in the league with only two rounds remaining.
Clare Cup Division 1A Round 8
Clooney-Quin v Sixmilebridge
@ Clooney, Saturday 3.30pm
With fellow semi-final contenders Crusheen to come in the final round, nothing but a victory over Clooney-Quin will suffice for Sixmilebridge to remain in contention. Embroiled in a three-way tie with Cratloe and Crusheen at the top of the Division 1A table, the county champions have secured a perfect six game record in the competition and despite being without their county senior contingent, should have enough to edge out Clooney-Quin whose sole aim to consolidate their top flight status has already been achieved.
Tubber v Crusheen
@ Tubber, Saturday 3.30pm
An all too rare derby which takes on even more significance when you consider the consequences for both at either end of the table. The underage amalgamation partners will be digging separate trenches this Saturday though as Tubber are presented with a tough finish against pacesetters Crusheen and Cratloe in order to survive in the top Division while equally Crusheen need both points to maintain their bid for the knock-out stages.
While form can go out the window in derbies, Crusheen will be firm favourites to keep up their unbeaten start to the season which currently stands at eight games.
Inagh-Kilnamona v Newmarket-on-Fergus @ Inagh, Saturday 3pm
Last year’s final pairing have both failed to keep up that Clare Cup form in 2014, with three-in-a-row champions Newmarket’s hopes of another semi-final place requiring a minor miracle while Inagh-Kilnamona are in real danger at the other end of the table.
The Blues haven’t hit top form yet but certainly have the personnel to finish with two victories while nothing but a perfect finish might be enough to save Inagh-Kilnamona from the drop as they are a point adrift of both newcomers O’Callaghan’s Mills and Tubber with only two games remaining.
Clarecastle v Cratloe
@ Clarecastle, Saturday 3.30pm
Joint leaders Cratloe will be without at least six players this weekend as the county senior contingent gear up for their Munster Championship Semi-Final a week later. The loss of a third of their side will leave a huge hole to fill but Clarecastle’s recent injury list allied to Bobby Duggan and Stephen O’Halloran’s absence could make this an even battle.
It could go either way but Cratloe’s greater need may see them dig out something from the game.
O’Callaghan’s Mills v Éire Óg
@ Kilkishen, Sunday 12.30pm
Éire Óg are already relegated but will still want to restore some pride and confidence in their remaining games in order to build for the championship. O’Callaghan’s Mills on the other hand, are still fighting for their top flight lives but will need the points here in order to stave off the threat of relegation.
Both will be missing key players – Davy O’Halloran, David Reidy for Éire Óg and Conor Cooney and Patrick Donnellan for O’Callaghan’s Mills – but the Mills have had the edge in their championship outings in recent years and will be expected to continue that run on this occasion.
Verdict: O’Callaghan’s Mills
Clare Cup Division 1B Round 8
Ruan v Clonlara @ Ruan, Saturday 3.30pm
Contrasting form means that there is a possibility that there could be two league divisions between these sides next season. Already promoted Clonlara have achieved a perfect record of seven successive victories so far, and despite being without five county seniors, still require one more victory to ensure top spot in the division. Ruan are struggling at the opposite end of the table with only one victory but will need at least one more if they are to remain in Division 1B for a second year.
Whitegate v Feakle
@ Whitegate, Saturday 3.30pm
A repeat of last year’s Intermediate Championship final that went Whitegate’s way but the shoe is on the other foot in terms of league action in 2014 as it is Feakle who appear on the cusp of promotion to the top tier of the Clare Cup while Whitegate are struggling to keep afloat.
Form is certainly on Feakle’s side and they won’t be short motivation either for last year’s final reverse as well as the fact that victory could secure promotion and a place in the Clare Cup semi-final depending on other results.
Tulla v St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
@ Tulla, Sunday 12.30pm
In terms of the Clare Cup, it’s virtually a dead rubber but should be treated as a confidence builder for both sides who certainly appeared relegations candidates after the opening round of the senior championship. Of course, the sides also met in last year’s Senior A relegation battle that Tulla edged thanks to goals from David McInerney and Daragh Corry but expect a backlash from Doora/Barefield this time.
Verdict: St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
Sixmilebridge v Scariff
@ Sixmilebridge, Sunday 12.30pm
Sixmilebridge second string’s second tier adventure may be coming to an end but it has certainly been an invaluable experience and they have in no way been out of their depth at any stage. That’s not to sign off on their obituary yet as they still have a fighting chance of survival but it would require victories over Scariff and Broadford, two young sides that are determined to gain experience and confidence themselves in this important year. It will be close but despite having nothing to play for in the division, Scariff should have the edge.
Broadford v Ballyea
@ Broadford, Sunday 12.30pm
A crucial game for two sides of the periphery of promotion and relegation. Broadford are only a point behind intermediate side Feakle in their bid to bounce straight back up to Division 1A while Ballyea will need one more win to brush off any threat of relegation, a familiar tale these past few seasons. Without their county continent, Ballyea could struggle to get a result as they failed to even field in the last away trip to east Clare against Scariff.
Division 2 League
With Wolfe Tones safely into the Division 2 Final as well as back into the Clare Cup for 2015, and Kilmaley already qualified for the semi-final, the last knock-out place rests between Parteen, Smith O’Brien’s and Cratloe’s second string. Parteen just need one more victory to make the last three, with this weekend’s promotion battle against Smith O’Brien’s the perfect test of their credentials that they should pass.
Down the other end, four teams are still fighting to avoid the drop, with the loser of the deffered clash between Intermediate championship group rivals Crusheen and Clarecastle destined for Division 3 while north Clare sides Corofin and Ennistymon also require something from their respective outings against Cratloe and Inagh-Kilnamona if they are to avoid a last round scramble.
Division 3 League
Seven out of the nine teams are still in contention for four knock-out places in Division 3 but this weekend’s penultimate round will make things much clearer as six of those sides face off against each other. Leaders Killanena hosting fifth placed Clooney-Quin for whom this is their last game and therefore nothing but a victory will suffice for the visitors to remain in the promotion hunt. First teams Meelick and Bodyke also clash, with a home victory for the south east Clare side enough to secure their semi-final place while Newmarket and Kilmaley will also clash in an almost winner-takes-all affair.
Division 4 League
With Sixmilebridge, Clonlara and Broadford safely into the semi-finals, the race for the last place rests between Tubber and Scariff. Semi-Final placing will also be important to Clonlara and Broadford who can both leapfrog leaders Sixmilebridge with victories over Scariff and Ballyea respectively.