Long wait over for Crusheen as Meaney's cameo seals historic first
Clare SHC final
Scenes of unbridled joy were witnessed at Cusack Park in Ennis yesterday when Crusheen became Clare hurling champions for the first time in their 123-year history.
They defeated holders Cratloe by five points in the end, after an absorbing match played in front of an 8,000 crowd. Substitute Paddy Meaney was vital to this historic victory. He was introduced for Gearoid O'Donnell 12 minutes into the second half and the 28-year-old went on to score 1-1, which helped in no small way to claim the title.
Elsewhere, centre-back Cian Dillon was majestic and he fully merited the man-of-the-match award, despite getting off to a shaky start. As the game matured, so too did Dillon.
Within 75 seconds of the throw-in, Crusheen had the ball in the Cratloe net when Fergus Kennedy ran on to a loose ball that dropped on the edge of the square and goaled from close range. Conor McGrath replied for the holders with a point before colleague Cathal McInerney struck another.
McGrath was again in the thick of things shortly after, pouncing when Crusheen full-back Cronan Dillon failed to clear. The full-forward flicked to his right, found Conor Ryan who duly slotted it to the back of the net to leave it 1-2 to 1-0 in favour of Cratloe after just four minutes.
Crusheen struck back with a fine point by Ciaran O'Doherty. But there was little between the teams in the first half and when the half-time whistle sounded, Crusheen held a narrow lead (1-6 to 1-5).
The second half was only seconds old when a Cathal McInerney point for Cratloe levelled matters once more.
Paddy Vaughan's free-taking was always going to be vital on the day for Crusheen and a total of seven placed balls over the hour had a huge bearing on the outcome.
With Cratloe trailing by 1-11 to 1-9 and with three minutes remaining, Paddy Meaney grabbed a goal that proved to be the vital score.
Even though Sean Collins and McGrath grabbed two points to bring the deficit back to just a goal, Joe and Paddy Meaney did likewise for Crusheen to establish a little bit of Clare hurling history.
Scorers -- Crusheen: P Vaughan 0-7 (0-6f, 0-1 '65), P Meaney 1-1, F Kennedy 1-0, J Meaney 0-2, C O'Doherty, C O'Donnell, G O'Grady 0-1 each. Cratloe: C McGrath 0-5 (0-3f), C Ryan 1-0, C McInerney 0-3, E Boyce, S Collins, S Chaplin 0-1 each.
Crusheen -- D Tuohy; J Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, A Brigdale; Cathal Dillon, Cian Dillon, C O'Doherty; T Meaney, P Vaughan; G O'Donnell, J Meaney, D Forde; C O'Donnell, G O'Grady (capt), F Kennedy. Subs: P Meaney for G O'Donnell (42), A Tuohy for J Brigdale (58), P O'Grady for Vaughan inj (60).
Cratloe -- S Hawes; P Gleeson, B Duggan (capt), D Ryan; J O'Gorman, M Hawes, L Markham; E Boyce, M 'Ogie' Murphy; S Collins, C Ryan, D Browne; C McInerney, C McGrath, P Collins.
Subs: S Chaplin for Murphy (45).
Ref -- S McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus).