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Cratloe tipped to win first U-21A crown

CRATLOE and Ennistymon’s rate of progression on the underage football field will be in evidence again this Thursday evening, when the clubs meet in the 2009 U-21A county final in Cusack Park.

The clubs met in last year’s minor A final in Cooraclare, with Cratloe winning their first ever title, at that level, on a 0-11 to 1-6 scoreline. Twelve months before that, Ennistymon defeated the South-East Clare club by a point in the 2007 minor semi-final. They subsequently defeated Kilmurry Ibrickane in the minor A decider.

The county board originally fixed the final for last Sunday. However, when Cratloe pointed out that the club was already down to play junior A and senior championship hurling on the Friday and Saturday nights of the same weekend, the county board ditched the ‘three-day rule’ and re-fixed the game. Of course, fixing the glut of games in the first place was total nonsense. Yet will other clubs now feel that the ‘three-day rule’ is no more?

If Cratloe had been forced to play all three matches on successive days, 11 of their U-21s would have had to play in two games, while the county board would have also expected that Liam Markham, Seán Collins and Conor McGrath would be fit and fresh enough to help Clare take on Galway in last Saturday’s All-Ireland U-21 hurling semi-final in Thurles.

Thursday’s final will feature some of the best up-and-coming footballers in Clare. County senior footballers Liam Markham and Seán Collins lend experience and ability to Cratloe, who also have 2009 Clare minors Cathal McInerney, Conor Ryan, Wes Deloughrey and Podge Collins in their starting team. Conor McGrath, Jamie Joyce, Joe Conroy and Enda Boyce are also fine footballers, who will add to Cratloe’s reservoir of talent.

Ennistymon are similarly littered with players who suggest that they will have long, potentially successful careers ahead of them.

Footballers like Ennistymon’s ’08 minor captain, Micheál O’Loughlin, ’07 minor winning captain Francis O’Loughlin, ’08 Clare minor Ronan Linnane, Michael McDonagh, Danny Rouine, Seán McConigley and David Davenport will lend plenty of ability to the North Clare club’s bid for U-21 glory.

However, even though all of Cratloe’s starting semi-final team are U-21 again next year, they should have a bit too much for Ennistymon, especially in the scoring department.

The fact, though, that several of the Ennistymon team have experience of playing senior football will be a considerable advantage to the men in black and white.

Thursday’s game will throw-in at 7pm in Cusack Park.

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