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McGrath the Cratloe hero as Maher's early red sinks sorry Sars

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Cathal McInerney, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Maher, Thurles Sarsfields

Cathal McInerney, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Maher, Thurles Sarsfields

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Padraic Collins, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Maher, left, and David Maher, Thurles Sarsfields

Padraic Collins, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Maher, left, and David Maher, Thurles Sarsfields

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Conor McGrath, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Cahill, Thurles Sarsfields

Conor McGrath, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Cahill, Thurles Sarsfields

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Conor McGrath, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Cahill, Thurles Sarsfields

Conor McGrath, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Cahill, Thurles Sarsfields

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Cathal McInerney, Cratloe, in action against Stephen Maher, Thurles Sarsfields

DENIS MAHER was red-carded just seconds after the throw-in as Thurles Sarsfields were dumped out by Cratloe yesterday.

Maher's day ended early at Cusack Park in Ennis as Clare kingpins Cratloe advanced to a first provincial hurling decider on November 23, when they will play Limerick outfit Kilmallock.

Disaster struck at the very start for Sars as Tipperary senior panellist Maher was dismissed by referee Cathal McAllister for a swipe at Cratloe captain Liam Markham.

And with that went any hopes of a Sars win as 7/4 pre-match outsiders Cratloe went on to upset the formbook.

Clare forward and All Star nominee Conor McGrath bagged 0-11 for the winners, including five points from play.

And Podge Collins, who has committed exclusively to the Clare footballers for 2015, hit 1-2, including a priceless goal in stoppage-time at the end of the first half.

It was a day to forget for 2012 Munster winners Sars, who were clinging on to a four-point deficit approaching half-time before Collins pounced from close range, after McGrath's attempted point dropped short.

To their credit, Sars did 'draw' the second half playing against the breeze but there were too many elements to contend with.

After half-time, the visitors were playing against the breeze and with McGrath in red-hot form, he was profiting from a regular supply of ball coming his way.

Michael Cahill and his defensive colleagues battled manfully against the tide but Cratloe were driven forward by their partisan supporters in the 4,708 attendance.

Sars would manage just seven points from play over the hour as Tipp star Lar Corbett endured a miserable afternoon as nothing went right.

Maher, as Cratloe manager Joe McGrath noted afterwards, was the key man in attack for Sars, having hit five points in the county final victory over Loughmore-Castleiney seven days before.

But he was sent off and Aidan McCormack, who also hit 0-5 in the Loughmore win, was held scoreless and substituted.

Cratloe had McGrath and Collins firing the bullets in attack, and Conor Ryan was a tower of strength at centre-back .

Markham pulled the strings at midfield, decorating his display with three points.

Despite playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze blowing towards the scoreboard end in the first half, Cratloe capitalised on their numerical advantage to post 1-8.

They also registered eight wides and saw two efforts bounce back into play via the upright.

On the resumption, it was all about consolidation for Cratloe as they kept the scoreboard ticking over, with the sides sharing 20 second-half points.

Sars did get to within five points but McGrath scored three of the final four scores as Cratloe closed the game out.

Thoughts now turn to next Sunday's provincial football semi-final against Waterford champions The Nire as a remarkable dual season shows no signs of ending.

And manager McGrath smiled: "We're a bit like kids in a sweet shop coming up to Christmas time and the shopkeeper is gone.

"We don't know whether to turn left or right at the moment - we're enjoying the experience."

scorers - Cratloe: C McGrath 0-11 (5fs, 1 '65'), P Collins 1-2, L Markham 0-3 (1f), S Collins, C McInerney 0-1 each. Thurles Sarsfields: P Bourke 0-8 (7fs), T Doyle 0-2, M Cahill, S Cahill, B McCarthy, C Lanigan 0-1 each.

Cratloe - G Ryan; S O'Leary, M Hawes, D Ryan; S Chaplin, C Ryan, E Boyce; D Collins, L Markham; S Gleeson, P Collins, S Collins; C McInerney, G Considine, C McGrath. Subs: D Browne for Considine (35), B Duggan for D Collins (55).

Thurles Sarsfields - P McCormack; S Maher, M Cahill, David Maher; R Maher, P Maher, M Gleeson; S Cahill, B McCarthy; Denis Maher, A McCormack, C Lanigan; T Doyle, P Bourke, L Corbett. Subs: R Ruth for McCormack (37), M O'Brien for Doyle (41).

ref - C McAllister (Cork)

 

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