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Clare Champion Pundit View: Who Wins The Clare SHC Title?

We asked a number of expert pundits for their predictions for Sunday’s Clare SHC Final. 

Pundit View: Brendan Bugler

Thoughts on Sixmilebridge and Cratloe in the championship to date

They are both deserving of their place in the final because they are the two teams that have played the best hurling in the championship to date. It will be a really interesting battle and the rivalry between the two parishes will only add to that. Over the last decade Sixmilebridge have an excellent record in getting to finals and their record in those games is not bad either. Cratloe have been the club of the decade for what they have done in both codes and how consistent they have been. Both teams are capable of playing really exceptional hurling and it should make for a great final.

Key Areas

It is going to be a real tactical battle. A lot of work will be done before the game on both sides in relation to getting things organised properly. I can’t see Cratloe getting the same amount of space they got in the second half against Crusheen and in other games throughout the year. Sixmilebridge will be pushing hard to disrupt their possession game and stopping them setting up attacks early. There will be a lot of bodies between the two 45m lines so whoever comes out on top of the match ups in the respective inside lines will be key.

Who wins?

It is really hard to call to be honest because they are two really excellent teams. I can’t split them so I am going to call it as a draw.

 

Pundit View: Tommy Guilfoyle

Thoughts on Sixmilebridge and Cratloe in the championship to date

They have been the two most impressive teams to date and bring a huge amount of experience to the table. On form, Cratloe have been the better team in terms of the semi-final performances but everyone knows that the Bridge are a different animal when they reach the final. Sixmilebridge seem to playing in patches in their games particularly in their games with Eire Óg and Inagh-Kilnamona so they will be looking for a little more consistency. Cratloe have been building momentum after their early round loss and have a real scoring threat.

Key Areas

Conor McGrath’s influence at midfield here will be vital. Paidi Fitzpatrick has always been the man that the Bridge have detailed on him so it remains to be seen will that be the case again. The supply of ball and movement of the Cratloe forwards will be of concern for the Sixmilebridge defence because there are still questions around their full back line in particular. On the other hand, the Bridge have players up front who can be match winners in the form of Alex Morey and Cathal Malone so they will take watching.

Who wins?

A lot will depend on the conditions on the day. If it comes down to a battle and it is kept tight, Sixmilebridge will have that bit more power. If it is an open free flowing game, it will suit Cratloe better. Cratloe will be hurt after last year’s loss but they are back there again now in consistent form and on the day, if they play to their potential, they might just edge it.

 

Pundit View: Fergal Lynch

Thoughts on Sixmilebridge and Cratloe in the championship to date

It is certainly the two most in-form teams in the championship that will be lining out on Sunday. Cratloe will have to bounce back from their loss in the football but there is no better way to do that than being able to get straight back out on the field this weekend, and they will have an axe to grind with Sixmilebridge. The Bridge have been in good form too throughout the championship and the fact that they are neighbouring parishes all just adds to what should be a really tasty affair.

Key Areas

Sixmilebridge are going to look at Conor McGrath who is undoubtedly still one of the best players in the county and still inter-county material for Clare. They will eye him up and try to nullify his influence on the game because he has been central to a lot of what the Bridge have done to date from the middle of the field. If they can do that, they will have a lot of work done in trying to beat Cratloe. Shane Golden is one of the best club hurlers in Clare and I am sure that Alan Neville and Mike Deegan will have plans in place to deal with him. I am expecting it to be a tactical affair but it will boil down to who can come out on top of their own individual battles.

Who wins?

I am going for Cratloe. The reason for that is that they have a stronger 15 than Sixmilebridge. The Bridge have a number of changes from their county final of 2017 and I think those changes have weakened the team.

 

Pundit View: Colin Ryan

Thoughts on Sixmilebridge and Cratloe in the championship to date

I saw Sixmilebridge as the team to beat from the outset and after the first few rounds they seemed to be the only team that were really pulling everything together and were real contenders. As the year has worn on, they haven’t really been beating teams as comfortably as you would have thought but they have shown real character to hold on and win a few tight games. They are a tough psychical unit and they have a team of players that can get the job done and with Davy Fitz there, they are playing that bit more tactically and have been the most consistent team so far. Cratloe have been really opening teams up and seem to have a sense of freshness about them but making sure there are no injuries after that Kilmurry game will be their main concern

Key Areas

Cratloe will need to keep the game open and keep it wide to try and work it to the danger zone. Sixmilebridge could sit with a sweeper to protect that area and to counteract Cratloe’s free-flowing scoring but Cratloe are well capable of working around that when they hit their groove. It will be an intriguing tactical battle and you could see Sixmilebridge trying to isolate Cathal Malone and Alex Morey but then Cratloe will be doing everything to keep it open and get the likes of Rian Considine moving into space. If the Bridge do go with a sweeper, Cratloe could sit their man in front of the danger zone and negate that threat.

Who wins?

It is a really hard one to call. If it is a dry day then Cratloe could put up a big score and all their big names are in great form. If it gets into a physical battle, then it is hard to see Cratloe holding out against a big Sixmilebridge unit. They are two really different teams and it is going to be a really tight battle. If I was pushed for an answer, maybe Cratloe seem to have the greater scoring threat and are playing with a real sense of freedom.

 

 

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