Wolfe Tones 2-11 Newmarket 0-13 Clare SHC Final THE Underdog proved the man for the big occasion as Wolfe Tones, bolstered by the Lohan brothers, Brian and Frank, yesterday destroyed Newmarket-on-Fergus's dream of lifting their first Clare title since 1981 at Cusack Park, Ennis.
In a high-intensity local derby between adversaries from the same parish, Gareth McPhillips made a massive contribution towards helping the Shannon town side register their first county success since 1996, and only their second overall.
Twelve months ago, right-half forward McPhillips, whose brother Bobby operated on the other flank, was a member of The Underdogs team, comprised of players who hadn't played senior inter-county hurling, which faced All-Ireland Champions Cork in the TG4 fixture.
And yesterday McPhillips dropped a king-sized hint to new Clare boss Tony Considine, who along with Galway manager Ger Loughane - dad of Wolfe Tones captain Barry - was in the 8,000 attendance.
McPhillips shot 1-6 of Tones' total, four of the points from placed balls and, significantly, his 49th-minute goal proved the turning point in a contest which saw Newmarket defender Anthony Kilmartin yellow-carded after a skirmish following Daithi O'Connell's early goal for Wolfe Tones.
dropped a king-sized hint to
new clare boss Tony
A pointed '65' from 19-year-old ace free-taker, Bernard Gaffney, had put Newmarket, 0-11 to 0-7 in front after 45 minutes which represented a fine comeback as they had trailed 1-6 to 0-7 at half-time after playing against the wind.
But four minutes later, Patsy Keyes brilliantly fielded a high-ball, laid it off to Gareth McPhillips, and the Underdog unleashed a rasper past Newmarket's keeper David Woods.
"I was very surprised to get a pass from Patsy," joked McPhillips, who played with Clare minor and U21 sides.
"I was close enough to the goal not to think of going for a point. It was great to see the ball in the back of the net and thankfully we held out. However it was just as well that our backs were on their game as Newmarket never gave up."
Livewire corner-forward Collin Ryan reduced the Newmarket's deficit to 0-13 to 2-8 on 54 minutes.
But Tones, stunned in last year's final by Clarecastle, weathered the storm and two points from play by Gareth McPhillips and another point from former Cork minor player Kevin McCarthy set up a Munster Club clash with Limerick's Bruree on Sunday week.
With three members of the Clare side which faced Kilkenney in this year's All-Ireland semi-final and another three panellists, compared to only one Newmarket panellist - James McInerney - Tones entered the final as strong favourites.
But they were made battle all the way by an extremely gutsy Newmarket side.
And Tones' manager Pat O'Rurke, who figured in the 1996 county win, argued his side only played to their full potential in approximately the last 15 minutes.
"After the experience of last year's final, our lads had a very strong fear of losing once again," pointed out O'Rourke, whose brother Declan figured at full-forward yesterday.
"And this had a very inhibiting effect on their performance for a lot of the game.
"Some of our county lads were not making the impression you'd expect, but thankfully the whole team opened up in the last 15 minutes or so, and it's great to have the monkey off our backs."
Prior to the second goal, Tones had switched centre-forward Keyes with very industrious full-forward Declan O'Rourke, and this move worked like a charm for last year's runners-up.
"With the wind behind us in the first half, a lot of ball was going into Declan (O'Rourke)," explained the manager.
"But this changed in the second half, and bringing out Declan to the half-forward line meant that he was able to set up more attacks. As well, Patsy set up our second goal."
Newmarket selector Jim Woods, the Clare star of the 60s , regretted the fact that his charges, failed to build on their one-point lead.
"If we had got another score, it would have given us a huge lift, and earlier in the second half Bernard Gaffney didn't get as much power behind the ball as he would have liked, when he went for a goal from a free and had his shot saved."
The first half saw Tones lead 1-2 to 0-1 after eight minutes, but Newmarket, inspired by the accurate free-taking of Gaffney, battled back to be only two points adrift at the interval.
SCORERS - Wolfe Tones: G McPhillips 1-6 (3f, 1 '65') D O'Connell 1-0, Declan O'Rurke 0-2, B McPhillips 0-1, B O'Connell 0-1, K McArthy 0-1; Newmarket: B Gaffney 0-7 (5f 1 '65') C Ryan 0-2, D Barrett 0-2, S Arthur 0-1, Jim McInerney 0-1.
WOLFE TONES - R Carley, J Coen, B Lohan, Dermot O'Rourke, J Roughan, F Lohan, B Loughnane, G O'Connell, B O'Connell, G McPhillips, P Keyes, B McPhillips, R Hehir, Declan O'Rourke, D O'Connell. Sub: K McArthy for Hairi (h/t).
NEWMARKET-ON-FERGUS - D Woods, E Barrett, P Kilmartin, A Kilmartin, S O'Brien, James McInerney, A Barrett, M O'Hanlon, P Collins, B Gaffney, Jim McInerney, S Kelly, C Ryan, D Barrett, S Arthur. Subs: M Murphy for Kelly (h/t), B McMahon for O'Hanlon (51), S Liddy for Collins (59).
REF - A Heagney (Corofin).