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Sherlock's point keeps Meelick in the race 
Kilmaley 2-8 Meelick 1-11 
by Seamus Hayes


When Kilmaley went eight points clear, ten minutes into the second half of this junior A hurling championship final at Cusack Park on Sunday evening, they looked to be on their way to ending a thirty eight year wait for this title 
Meelick, however, had other ideas and with the help of some astute switches and superior fitness, they fought their way back to snatch a draw. The replay will, it is expected, take place as a curtain raiser to the County senior final on October 7. 
Played before an enthusiastic attendance, this game produced some excellent passages of play and a draw was probably the fairest result on the day although Kilmaley will feel that they had enough chances to have captured the title. 
Meelick had first use of the fresh breeze but it was Kilmaley that made the early running with two early pointed frees by Conor Sexton. The South East Clare side fought back strongly to be just a goal adrift at half time but with Kilmaley turning over to play with the aid of the breeze, Meelick looked to have a big battle on their hands. 
When Kilmaley added 1-2 without reply in the early minutes of the second half, Meelick's task became much greater. To their credit, they never gave up and with the help of some switches, most notably the move to veteran Syl Dolan to the half forward line, they fought back strongly. 
Kilmaley failed to score in the final twenty minutes and while much credit must go to their South East Clare opponents, there will be concern in the Kilmaley camp at the manner in which their challenge faded. 
While veteran Niall Romer did nothing wrong on his introduction and, in fact, made a couple of good clearances, the loss of Ciaran O'Loughlin with a leg injury seemed to unsettle the Kilmaley men. 
Kilmaley went ahead as early as the first minute when Conor Sexton pointed from a 40m free and he repeated the feat four minutes later. Seven minutes had elapsed before Barry Dolan opened Meelick's account and he tied up the scores a minute later. 
Sexton had Kilmaley back in front in the tenth minute and this was quickly followed by the game's first score from play which came from Kilmaley full forward Pat Healy. 
Kilmaley also had the game's first goal and this came at the end of the first quarter when Noel Clancy applied the finishing touch after good work by Dick Pyne and Micheal Murphy. 
Meelick made some changes at this stage and these included the introduction of Sean Cregan at wing forward. Inspired by the impressive Alan Markham at centre back they hit back with good points from Markham and Mike Sherlock before Markham pointed a 20m penalty to cut Kilmaley's lead to two points. 
At half time a goal separated the sides with the score standing at 1-6 to 0-6 and before the teams went to the break, Meelick had made another change with the introduction of Brian Ringrose for Michael O'Grady at wing back. 
On the resumption, Meelick came close to scoring but Kilmaley cleared the danger and went on the attack for Noel Clancy to extend their lead with a goodpoint. 
When Martin Ronan had their second goal following a John Nealon delivery, five minutes into the half, they looked to be on their way to the title and this view was strengthened when Kerry native Michael Murphy extended their lead with a beautiful effort from a side line cut. 
Few would have predicted it at that stage but Kilmaley weren't to score again. Meelick continued to make changes and by now they had Syl Dolan in their half forward line. He was instrumental in putting Cathal Sherlock through for a vital goal at the turn of the final quarter. 
This score cut Kilmaley's lead to four points and proved a great boost to the men in black and red. However, they had to wait nine minutes for their next score which came from a Jim White '65. Within a minute Barry Dolan pointed from play and now Kilmaley's lead had been cut to two points with five minutes still to play. 
Substitute Sean Cregan left just the minimum between the sides when he scored his second point three minutes from the end. 
The game was a minute into 'injury time' when Declan Sherlock cooly converted a '65 to earn his side another chance. 
There is no doubt but that Meelick will be glad to have earned a second chance and they will be hoping to build on this display in the coming weeks. 
Alan Markham was outstanding for them at centre back while the full back trio of John Callinan, Kevin O'Brien and Anthony O'Grady got through some good work. Declan Sherlock had his moments as had his brothers Cathal and Mike in attack where the team's best player was Syl Dolan. 
Brendan Talty, Ciaran Murphy and Ciaran O'Loughlin did well in defence for Kilmaley. Dick Pyne and John Nealon gave Kilmaley the upperhand at midfield in the opening half. While the forwards enjoyed some good moments, they lacked consistency and will have to improve for the replay if they are to capture the title for the first time since 1963. 

Scorers--Meelick--Barry Dolan (0-4) Cathal Sherlock (1-0) Alan Markham (0-2), Sean Cregan (0-2) Jim White, Declan Sherlock, Mike Sherlock (0-1) each; Kilmaley---Noel Clancy (1-1) Conor Sexton (0-4) Martin Ronan (l-O) Pat Healy (02) Michael Murphy (0-1); 

Meelick James Duffy; John Callinan, Kevin O'Brien, Anthony O'Grady; Michael O'Grady, Alan Markham, Jim White; Declan Sherlock, Conor Dolan; Barry Dolan, Cathal Sherlock, Patrick Finnucane; Syl Dolan, Mike Sherlock, Richard O'Grady; Subs--Sean Cregan for Finnucane; Brian Ringrose for O' Grady; Pat Gibbons for C. Dolan; 

Kilmaley--Joe Hayes; Brendan Talty, Stephen Clancy, Ciaran O'Loughlin; Gerard Commane, Ciaran Murphy, Donie Nealon; John Nealon, Dick Pyne; Micheal Murphy, Michael Murphy, Conor Sexton; Martin Ronan, Pat Healy, Noel Clancy; Subs--Niall Romer for O'Loughlin (inj) John Paul Healy for Michael Murphy; Flan Nealon for Pyne; Eamonn Keane for Micheal Murphy; 

Referee: Tom Stackpool; |

 



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