Sport Gaelic Football

Sunday 21 January 2018

All in a day's work for Cratloe as Clare title and place in Munster final are secured by dual aces

Gerry Quinn

Cratloe made history on Saturday afternoon at Cusack Park, Ennis by capturing their first ever senior county football title and denying Doonbeg a 19th crown.

Cratloe made history on Saturday afternoon at Cusack Park, Ennis by capturing their first ever senior county football title and denying Doonbeg a 19th crown.

The dual club from South-East Clare thoroughly deserved the win and had the distinction of having seven starters who were involved with Clare's All-Ireland-winning hurling squad – plus All Star Brendan Bugler was a non-used substitute for the new champions.

This decider saw Cratloe take the lead early on, with Podge Collins kicking the opening score in the third minute. Doonbeg trailed at the break by 0-6 to 0-3 and found themselves playing catch-up for most of the second period against a well-organised Cratloe outfit.

After the game, man of the match Collins reflected on a sensational season for himself and some of his colleagues.

"It was an unreal year. From a club perspective it was disappointing to lose out in the hurling. But once we were knocked out, in that we concentrated 100pc on the football, and I couldn't be happier to be lifting the Jack Daly Cup today", said the 21- year-old, who added a Clare football medal to his All-Ireland senior and U-21 medals and an All Star award.

By the mid-point of the first half the teams were level at three apiece with Liam Markham kicking two points to add to Collins' opener. Brian Dillon scored Doonbeg's first and then David Tubridy added a pair of points. Cratloe finished the half with three pointed frees by Cathal McInerney.

Tubridy narrowed the gap with a free inside two minutes of the restart but McInerney and Sean Collins kicked good Cratloe scores to leave them 0-8 to 0-4 ahead by the 38th minute. Doonbeg's Conor Downes and Cratloe captain Ogie Murphy exchanged scores before Collins had Cratloe's last score of the game in the 47th minute.

Leading by five points in a low-scoring game, the eventual winners set about defending the lead and even though Doonbeg rallied, all they could produce in the final 10 minutes was a pair of scores by Tubridy, one from a free and a second from a '45'.

Scorers – Cratloe: C McInerney 0-4 (4fs), L Markham, P Collins 0-2 each, S Collins, M Murphy 0-1 each. Doonbeg: D Tubridy 0-5 (3 fs, 1 '45'), B Dillon, C Downes 0-1 each.

Cratloe – P De Loughrey; S Chaplin, B Duggan, D Ryan; M Og Murphy (capt), M Hawes, E Boyce; F Lynch, C Duggan; C Ryan, P Collins, L Markham; C McInerney, S Collins, C McGrath. Subs: P Chaplin for McGrath (58).

Doonbeg – E Tubridy; P Gallagher, C Whelan, C Clancy; P Aherne, B Dillon, J Blake; F O'Dea, C Dillon; D Tubridy (capt), S O'Brien, R Goode; S Ryan, E Doyle, C Downes.

Subs: R Vaughan for Blake (32), J Whelan for Clancy (50), B Egan for Gallagher (54), P Dillon for Ryan (58).

Ref – B Kelly (Miltown Malbay)

MUNSTER CLUB SFC SEMI-FINAL

Just twenty-four hours after being crowned Clare senior football champions for the first time in their history, Cratloe made it through to the Munster Club final following a two-point win over Waterford side Ballinacourty, at Cusack Park, Ennis.

Played in front of just 873 spectators, those that stayed away missed a thrilling semi-final that saw Cratloe rely on a splendid Conor McGrath goal 90 seconds into the second half. Giving a man-of-the-match display, McGrath's hour was sullied somewhat when he and Ballinacourty's Richie Foley were both dismissed on straight red cards for an altercation just moments before the final whistle.

This was a hard-fought contest that saw the lead change hands on numerous occasions with the Banner County representatives one point in arrears (0-6 to 0-5) at the break. Ballinacourty wing-forward James O'Mahony opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a point from the left wing. Cathal McInerney, for Cratloe, kick-started his team's account with a pointed free moments later.

By the end of the first quarter, Cratloe held a 0-3 to 0-2 advantage but could have been further ahead if Sean Collins' close-in shot had hit the net rather than screw off his boot and sail over the bar in the 14th minute.

John Hurney and Michael O'Halloran replied with points for the Waterford side to regain the lead and the teams were level on two more occasions before Patrick Hurney put a right-footed effort over the bar to give Ballinacourty the slenderest of leads at the interval.

Quickly after the break Cratloe grabbed the game's only goal when Cathal McInerney gained possession. The corner-forward cleverly picked out McGrath with a deft handpass and the man who scored a crucial goal in the All-Ireland hurling final, first-timed to the net with his right foot.

But a resolute Ballinacourty regrouped immediately and picked off three scores in a row through Patrick Hurney (2) and Sean O'Hare to go in front 0-9 to 1-5, at the 35-minute mark. McInerney, from play, tied things up in the 39th before Podge Collins kicked Cratloe in front once more, with a fantastic point from the right flank.

A McInerney free put two between the teams with 10 remaining and a pair of Ballinacourty scores from Shane Briggs and Sean O'Hare kept the outcome in the balance with five minutes left on the clock.

Though it could have been expected that Saturday's efforts by Cratloe might mitigate against them as this tie progressed, the opposite was the case. Liam Markham kicked the south-east Clare men ahead and in the 59th minute McGrath, following a handpass by Markham, shot from a distance to claim the insurance point.

In injury-time tempers boiled over and following a melee involving a number of players from both sides, referee Derek O'Mahoney issued red cards to McGrath and Foley – the only sour note in what was a fantastic game of football. Cratloe will now face Dr Crokes of Kerry in the provincial decider on Sunday week.

Scorers – Cratloe: C McGrath 1-2, C McInerney 0-4 (2 fs), L Markham 0-2, S Collins, P Collins 0-1 each. Ballinacourty: P Hurney 0-4, S O'Hare 0-2, J O'Mahoney, J Hurney,

M O'Halloran, M Ferncombe, S Briggs 0-1 each.

Cratloe – P De Loughery; S Chaplin, B Duggan, D Ryan; M Og Murphy (capt), M Hawes, E Boyce; F Lynch, C Duggan; C Ryan, P Collins, L Markham; C McInerney, S Collins, C McGrath. Subs: S Hynan for Boyce (40), B Bugler for Murphy (inj, 53).

Ballinacourty – S Enright; B Looby, S Briggs, D Collins; R Foley, S O'Hare, C Moloney; J Hurney, G Hurney; J O'Mahoney, M Fives, M Ferncombe; M O'Halloran, J O'Brien, P Hurney. Subs: S Donovan for O'Brien (h-t), J Power for O'Halloran (43).

Ref – D O'Mahony (Tipperary)

Irish Independent

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