Last eight to be finalised in Clare Senior Hurling Championship

Crusheen's Cian Dillon on the ball for under pressure from Cratloe's Conor Ryan. Photograph by Flann Howard

Senior A Championship Round 3

Group 1
Ballyea v Inagh-Kilnamona @ Cusack Park, Saturday 7pm
It’s the game with the highest stakes in the Senior A Championship this weekend as Ballyea and Inagh-Kilnamona battle it out for a quarter-final place. It’s a winner-takes-all affair that will see Ballyea go in as favourites but not with any real conviction as they have yet to reproduce the form of last year that got them to the semi-finals.
Inagh-Kilnamona haven’t exactly been firing on all cylinders themselves with emigration, retirements and injury all combining to ensure that they simply haven’t had the options of previous campaigns.
Expect Ballyea to have more cohesion than their last outing against Clooney-Quin though as they welcome competitive games to develop their side, with their added individual flair more than likely sufficient to shade this tie.
Verdict: Ballyea

Clonlara v Clooney-Quin @ Sixmilebridge, Sunday 1pm
It’s the only dead rubber of the Senior A Championship as Clonlara have already been crowned group winners while Clooney-Quin are destined for the relegation play-offs regardless of this result.
It’s still a worthwhile opportunity for both to test themselves, with Clonlara possibly giving some of their fringe players a chance to impress while Clooney-Quin will equally want to steel themselves for a tough survival play-off.
Verdict: Clonlara

Group 2
Tulla v Tubber @ Clarecastle, Saturday 3.30pm
Last chance saloon for both these sides as the loser will be guaranteed a place in the dreaded relegation series. Neither have shown even a fraction of their potential so far in what have been very disappointing campaigns but in such a critical year for the senior hurling clubs, Saturday provides these clubs with a final opportunity to redeem themselves. One that Tubber look more like taking when comparing previous displays.
Verdict: Tubber

Newmarket-on-Fergus v Clarecastle @ Cusack Park, Sunday 1pm
A group decider that will evoke memories of important past clashes but this fixture hasn’t been competitive for the last five or six years since Newmarket replaced the Magpies as perennial championship contenders. Clarecastle are on the way back thanks to a burgeoning underage set-up but the Blues should still have the edge as both are already guaranteed a last eight place.
Verdict: Newmarket-on-Fergus

Group 3
Sixmilebridge v Kilmaley @ Clarecastle, Saturday 2pm
Not the group decider that either of these sides would have hoped for when the draw was made but the reality is that after two successive defeats, Sixmilebridge and Kilmaley are competing to avoid the relegation play-offs rather than an expected tilt at the knock-out stages.
As county champions, Sixmilebridge will feel sorely disappointed to have lost to both Crusheen and Cratloe as they had ample opportunities in both games to carve out victory. However, they should have too much for Kilmaley who despite a good display against Crusheen, are still on a learning curve.
Verdict: Sixmilebridge.

Crusheen v Cratloe @ Cusack Park, Sunday 6.30pm
A repeat of the 2010 county final that Crusheen edged to usurp Cratloe’s crown. And it will be similarly close this weekend as they vie for top honours in Group 3. Winning means avoiding the other group winners so expect plenty of championship intensity despite both already qualifying for the last eight.
The added intrigue stems from Cratloe’s attacking potential versus Crusheen’s notoriously miserly defence, with the east Clare side’s added goal threat perhaps enough to see them through.
Verdict: Cratloe

Senior B Championship Round 3

Group 1
Wolfe Tones v Whitegate @ Broadford, Saturday 2pm
Despite both being plunged into relegation, the outcome of this game certainly matters as the winner is guaranteed two opportunities to save their senior lives whereas the loser may only get only get one. Wolfe Tones will feel aggrieved to have underperformed last time out against Éire Óg and while Whitegate will push them all the way, it may not be enough.
Verdict: Wolfe Tones

Ruan v Éire Óg @ Gurteen, Sunday 1.30pm
In contrast to their last two competitive clashes, there is nothing at stake for Ruan and Éire Óg this weekend. Éire Óg are already through to the senior B final as well as the Senior A quarter-finals while Ruan are in the strange position of knowing that they are playing their last senior game before being relegated.
Verdict: Éire Óg

Group 2
Scariff v St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield @ Tulla, Saturday TBC
Both sides are in the unenviable position of being deep in the relegation mire regardless of the result. Yes, the loser is relegated but it’s arguably only a slight reprieve for the winner who will still be right in the mix in what promises to be a very unforgiving demotion series.
Despite a lack of experience that perhaps cost them against O’Callaghan’s Mills and Broadford, Scariff have shown plenty of spirit in contrast to their opponents who have plenty of experience but have shown little spirit. Could go either way but at least Scariff’s young guns have shown some form.
Verdict: Scariff

Broadford v O’Callaghan’s Mills @ Cusack Park, Saturday 5.30pm
A group decider with a very juicy carrot on offer for the winner who will garner safety, a Senior B final place as well as a last eight spot in the Senior A Championship while the loser is left in the relegation play-offs.
Broadford have shown plenty of character so far, but while the Mills haven’t fired on all cylinders yet, they should have far more big game experience that might be sufficient to get them over the line.
Verdict: O’Callaghan’s Mills


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