Cratloe 2-6 Kilrush 0-7
NOWHERE near as fluent as in their 11-point defeat of Cooraclare a week earlier, Cratloe did enough to hold off a limited Kilrush and secure a county semi-final place against Éire Óg in Clarecastle on Sunday.
Kilrush set themselves up to limit Cratloe’s attacking options and to close the space into which they sought to run. To a degree, this policy worked, in that it kept Kilrush competitive. Yet only Jim Young, of Kilrush’s forwards, managed even a single point from play. The Kilrush free-taker kicked five points from dead balls, while early substitute Paddy Clancy was their only additional point scorer.
Playing with a strong breeze in the opening half in Clarecastle on Sunday, Cratloe were somewhat lucky to lead 1-4 to 0-2 at half time.
Ten minutes before half time, a long delivery from Seán Collins evaded Kilrush goalkeeper Tony Burke and dropped in. Fergal Lynch, playing at full-forward, had made a run that may have unsighted Burke but the Kilrush goalkeeper should have dealt with it more capably.
Lynch also put over a lovely point from play, while Cathal McInerney pointed three Cratloe frees.
Paddy Clancy entered the fray in the seventh minute, replacing midfielder John Moody, who limped off injured. Clancy made an immediate impression, pointing after Stephen Sweeney had intercepted an Enda Boyce clearance.
Throughout the first half Kilrush operated with Rory O’Connor in a one-man full-forward line, while Jim Young played most of his football at midfield in the first 30 minutes. Corner-forward Jack Browne operated as an effective extra man around the middle, while Stephen Sweeney also played a deep lying role.
Had Kilrush not conceded that soft first half goal, they would have been delighted to trail by two, and not five, points come the interval.
Aided by the breeze, Kilrush opted to go long early in the second half but this backfired badly. Much of their kicking was poor, while ball that dropped in around their full-forward line was invariably picked up by Cratloe defenders.
Seven minutes into the second half, Cathal McInerney cut through the Kilrush defence before finishing to the net. It was a lovely move involving Michael Hawes, Seán Hynan and Óige Murphy. Frustratingly for Kilrush, Cratloe broke after picking up an ill-directed Kilrush free from near the sideline. Three minutes later, Fergal Lynch landed a second impressive point, leaving the winners 2-5 to 0-2 ahead, 20 minutes from time.
Cratloe added just a single Cathal McInerney free to their total in the closing 20 minutes, which underlines how poor they were during that spell. They were well ahead at that stage but it is almost certain that if they manage a similarly meagre closing 20 minutes’ tally against Éire Óg this weekend, they will be out of the championship come Sunday evening.
Jim Young kicked Kilrush’s remaining five points, four from frees. Along with the outstanding Niall Gildbride, who was the best defender on the field and Jack Browne, who worked exceptionally hard, Young also did well for Kilrush, while Matthew Moloney give it his best.
Cratloe weren’t as impressive as they were against Cooraclare, though Kilrush adopted a less open approach. Their full-back line kept Rory O’Connor very quiet, though he lacked support. Elsewhere, Liam Markham had an excellent second half when moved to wing-back from the half-forward line, while Fergal Lynch and Michael Hawes contributed significantly. Cathal McInerney’s goal more or less tied up the result for Cratloe, while his free-taking improved radically from the Cooraclare game.
Had Cratloe won easily and played better, perhaps they would have approached Éire Óg with a degree of over-confidence. That is now very unlikely given that Kilrush, to a degree, showed how to curb Cratloe but didn’t have the attacking threat to have a chance of winning it. Éire Óg won’t lack confidence in their offensive ability.
Cratloe: Pierce De Loughrey; Seán Chaplin, Barry Duggan, David Ryan; Oige Murphy (captain), Michael Hawes, Enda Boyce; Fergal Lynch, Cillian Duggan; Liam Markham, Seán Collins, Seán Hynan; Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath, Podge Collins.
Subs: Conor Ryan for Enda Boyce (half-time), Wes De Loughrey for Conor Ryan, Padraig Chaplin for Seán Chaplin (55).
Scorers: Cathal McInerney (1-4, 0-3f), Seán Collins (1-0), Fergal Lynch (0-2).
Wides: 8 Frees: 23
Yellow cards: Seán Chaplin, Michael Hawes.
Kilrush: Tony Burke; Niall Gilbride, Danny Lynch, Niall Clancy; Niall Brennan, Matthew Moloney, John Hayes; Chris Dixon, John Moody; Darragh Bolton, Cian Murray, Stephen Sweeney; Rory O’Connor, Jim Young (captain), Jack Browne.
Subs: Paddy Clancy for John Moody (inj – 7), Peadar McMahon for Chris Dixon (28 – inj), Conor O’Brien for Cian Murray (half-time), Donal O’Sullivan for Darragh Bolton (38), Padjoe McGrath for Stephen Sweeney (53).
Scorers: Jim Young (0-6, 0-5f), Paddy Clancy (0-1).
Wides: 7 Frees: 24
Yellow cards: Rory O’Connor, Paddy Clancy.
Referee: Pat Cosgrove.