By Seamus Hayes
Cratloe 2-10 Clonlara 2-8
Cratloe completed another double in what has already been an historic year for the club when the senior hurlers won their first ever Clare Champion cup (senior hurling league) title on Saturday.
A two point win over their neighbours Clonlara brought the curtain down on the club’s most successful year even and completed the senior hurling league and championship double for the club.
It was a most entertaining contest played in cold conditions which made hurling difficult for all involved. O’Garney park in Sixmilebridge was in tremendous condition for this attractive fixture which saw the sides level on six occasions.
For much of the game a draw looked the likely outcome but Cratloe s truck a decìsive blow in the 59th minute when Conor McGrath fired home their second goal.
At the end of an evenly contested first half the sides went to the dressing room with 1-4 each on the scoreboard. Podge Collins and Conor McGrath had early points for the winners but Clonlara responded with four unanswered points from John Conlon, Cathal O’Connell, Darach Honan and Neil Ryan to lead by two at the end of the first quarter.. Sean Collins and Conor McGrath replied for Cratloe before a Liam Markham goal, four minutes from the break gave the Cratloe men a three point lead. It was shortlived as a great break by Darach Honan ended with a William Slattery goal for Clonlara.
Within twenty seconds of the resumption, John Conlon had pointed Clonlara into the lead and they looked to be in a strong position ten minutes into the half when Honan raced through the middle and fired home his side’s second goal.
Cratloe’s response was impressive and four unanswered points from Cathal McInerney and Conor McGrath (3) had the teams level with ten minutes to go. An excellent score from Conor Ryan put Cratloe ahead but John Conlon responded from a free for Clonlara to tie up the contest yet again.
With extra time looming, Cratloe launched an attack which ended with a Conor McGrath goal. Clonlara piled on the pressure again but all they could manage was a Cormac O’Donovan point from play.
John O’Gorman, Barry Duggan, and Conor McGrath were prominent for the winners while Domhnaill O’Donovan Cathal O’Donnell, John Conlon and Darach Honan were to the fore for Clonlara who were without the injured Colm Galvin.
After the game Clare GAA vice chairman Joe Cooney presented the cup to the winning captain Liam Markham while the Clare Champion’s Liam Duggan presented cheques to John Ryan, Cratloe chairman(€3,500) and Flan Mullane, Clonlara chairman (€1,500).
Cratloe–Gearoid Ryan; John O’Gorman, Michael Hawes, David Ryan; Sean Chaplin, Conor Ryan (0-1), Barry Duggan; Martin ‘Oige’ Murphy, Liam Markham (1-0) Captain; David Collins, Sean Collins (0-1), Shane Gleeson; Conor McGrath (1-6), 0-5 frees, Cathal McInerney (0-1) Podge Collins (0-1);
Subs—Shane O’Leary for D. Ryan (inj); Enda Boyce for Gleeson; Alan McNamara for D.Collins;
Clonlara;–Ger O’Connell; Senan Nihill, Shane O’Brien, Pat O’Hare; Nicky O’Connell (0-1), Cillian Fennessy, Domhnaill O’Donovan; Cathal O’Connell (0-1), Oisin O’Brien; John Conlon (0-3), Darach Honan (1-1), William Slattery (1-0); Neil Ryan (0-1), Cormac O’Donovan (0-1). Ian Galvin;
Subs—Micheal O’Loughlin for Ryan; Michael White for O’Loughlin; Seamus Downey for O’Hare
Referee—Ambrose Heagney, Corofin