McInerney would make star footballer – Collins
CATHAL McInerney's nose and mouth were stained with dried blood but he still looked ghostly pale, and many of his Cratloe team-mates seemed similarly shell-shocked.
After coming so close to pulling off one of the greatest victories in the history of Banner football, the Clare champions – featuring seven of the county's All-Ireland winning hurlers – were devastated to have let a Munster title slip from their grasp in what was only their second game of provincial action.
"We gave Crokes a right scare and it's just heart-breaking that we didn't come out on the right side of the result," corner-forward star McInerney said.
"We're a footballing team, we don't really play defensively, we like to kick the ball and attack, and knew we were a lot better than what we produced in the first half."
McInerney made a spectacular contribution, out-Gooching the Gooch with some spectacular points which were all the more amazing considering he went off for treatment early in the second half.
"I got an elbow on the nose – it was completely accidental, but it wouldn't stop bleeding and I had to go off for a while," he explained of his enforced temporary substitution.
As the Collins brothers – Podge and Sean – received consolatory hugs nearby, their father, team manager Colm, could only reflect on what might have been.
"We're bitterly disappointed. We knew we had a very good team and thought we had a very good chance.
"We had drawn a line through the form they had shown against Kilmurry-Ibrickane (last year) and thought we had a massive chance.
"But it just wasn't to be, we just came up that tiny bit short. They cleaned us out in midfield in the first half, so we said we had to get a grip there, which we did, and stopped kicking the ball out to them.
"I don't know if it was nerves or what but we went to sleep for 20 minutes of that first half and I was wishing it was basketball and that I could have called a time-out.
"Our lads are comfortable on the ball. People outside Clare mightn't know it but if Cathal concentrated on football he would probably be a household name like Declan Browne was for Tipperary.
"I honestly thought we wouldn't be led again when we got in front. I knew we would finish strong because they're exceptionally fit, they're an absolute dream to work with."
He confirmed that, as new Clare senior manager, he will be looking to share several of Cratloe's dual stars with Davy Fitzgerald next year, and yesterday's performance certainly underlined that the Banner's footballers are capable of mixing it with the best.
"You don't lose a match because you're from Clare," Collins stressed. "You lose a match because you kicked the ball away or can't put it between the posts. We have some excellent players and hopefully we can carry that into Division 4 in the league."