Cratloe and the ’Bridge tipped for victory
Over the coming weeks, they have senior championship action in hurling and football, while they have a number of players in both the Clare U-21 and minor squads. They are the defending county U-21A football champions and a date has yet to be found for their semi-final re-fixture with Ennistymon in this competition.
Victory over Wolfe Tones this week will edge them closer to the quarter-finals. The champions expect to have a full squad available for the tie, although there are doubts about the fitness of Barry Gleeson and Gearóid Ryan.
“We are anxiously awaiting Wednesday’s U-21 final and hoping that all of our representatives will come through without injury,” said Cratloe mentor, Mike Deegan.
Wolfe Tones, following a loss to Inagh-Kilnamona, go into this weekend’s game knowing that another defeat would considerably dent their hopes of progress in the championship. Having won promotion to the top division in the Clare Champion Cup last week, they will be keen to build on that and will be looking to Frank Lohan, John Coen, Brian and Daithí O’Connell, the McPhillips brothers and Barry Loughnane to lead the charge against the title holders.
With a full squad available, Cratloe will be expected to maintain their unbeaten run and will be looking to Michael Hawes, Barry Duggan, David Ryan, Ogie Murphy, Liam Markham, Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath and Seán Collins to lead the way. They should be strong enough to be ahead at the final whistle.
Clare Champion Cup semi-finalists Sixmilebridge will carry the favourites’ tag into their clash with Tubber at Cusack Park. In their only outing in this competition this season, they put in a strong finish to snatch a draw with Cratloe, while Tubber suffered a three-point loss to Wolfe Tones, despite scoring 13 times against Wolfe Tones’ 10.
It remains to be seen if county U-21 player Patrick O’Connor will get to play a part in Tubber’s challenge this week. He suffered a leg injury in the league a week ago and has been receiving physiotherapy all week in an effort to be ready to play for the Clare U-21s in the Munster championship.
If he is not fit to play on Sunday, it will represent a huge blow to Tubber’s hopes of causing an upset. The team, managed by Pat O’Connor senior, could also be without Blaine Earley, who has missed much of the season due to injury.
Tubber will again be looking to the Earleys, the O’Connors, county minor hurling goalie Ronan Taaffe and veteran Eamonn Taaffe. While they can be relied on to make things difficult for any opposition, it will be a surprise if a Sixmilebridge outfit that will include Niall Gilligan, Tadhg Keogh, Caimin Morey and Aidan Quilligan doesn’t come out on top.