By Seamus Hayes
St Jospeh’s 2-6
CRATLOE went into Saturday’s clash with St Joseph’s in the knowledge that victory was essential and it was also important to win by as big a margin as possible, as scoring difference could end up deciding what teams will progress from this group to the knock-out stage.
They left Cusack Park having achieved their target and they are now right back in contention for a place in the play-offs. They will, of course, be pleased with that but will readily acknowledge there is room for improvement, especially when it comes to taking chances as they hit a total of 16 wides against the Doora-Barefield side.
Their manager, Joe McGrath, observed, “It took us a while to get going. We got off to a nice start and had control of the game but we conceded two sucker punches that put us on the back foot. We recovered reasonably well and were ahead at half-time, which was our objective.
“We had 14 to spare, which is two or three off Crusheen but we are back in the race. We said if we could get it down to the Crusheen match and make a dog fight of it, we are in with a chance now.”
The Cratloe boss conceded his side “did have a lot of wides but we converted a good few as well”.
“St Joseph’s are a strong team and a very proud club. They are not gone away and could have a big part to play in this championship yet.”
St Joseph’s manager, John Halpin said, “A return of two points in the second half wasn’t good enough. Cratloe defended better in the second half. We had a couple of opportunities, which we didn’t convert. Cratloe have very sharp forwards and they took their scores well. We need a win next week. We are still team building and we will keep going,” he promised.
The South-East Clare club dictated play in the early minutes and had points from Conor McGrath and a brace from Shane Gleeson, who had a fine game. They could have been much more than three ahead by the 10th minute but their finishing was poor.
The winners were rocked in the 10th minute when Alan O’Neill won possession from an Aaron Landy effort and shot to the net. Within a minute, he repeated the feat to put his side three clear.
Cratloe, to their credit, didn’t show any signs of panic and points from Liam Markham, McGrath, Podge Collins and Gleeson had them back on terms by the 19th minute. They went on to take a two-point lead to the break, when the score stood at 0-12 to 2-4.
For the second half, Cratloe introduced Damian Browne in place of Sean Chaplin but it was the Doora-Barefield men who scored first when they pointed in the fifth minute. Cratloe responded impressively, with points from the Collins brothers, Podge and Sean, and Conor McGrath, inside two minutes.
They struck a major blow at the midpoint of the half when Shane Gleeson found the net, which saw the winners go seven clear, 1-16 to 2-6.
In the final quarter, they hit 1-7 without reply, with their second goal coming from Cathal McInerney.
Conor Ryan, Ógie Murphy, Sean Collins and Shane Gleeson stood out for the winners, while St Joseph’s had good performances from Brian Clancy, David Conroy, Jarlath Colleran and Alan O’Neill.
Cratloe: Gearóid Ryan; John O’Gorman, Barry Duggan, David Ryan; Conor Ryan, Mike Hawes, Martin ‘Ógie’ Murphy; Enda Boyce, Liam Markham; Sean Collins, Podge Collins, Sean Chaplin; Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath, Shane Gleeson.
Subs: Damian Browne for Chaplin (half-time) and Shane O’Leary for D Ryan (56 minutes).
Scorers: Conor McGrath (0-8, 3f, 1 65’), Shane Gleeson (1-4), Sean Collins (0-5), Cathal McInerney (1-1), Podge Collins (0-3) and Liam Markham (0-1).
Frees for: 12; wides: 16; 65s: 1
St Joseph’s: Paul Madden; Cathal O’Sullivan, Ken Kennedy, Brian Clancy; Mark Hanrahan, Kevin Dilleen, Jarlath Colleran; Niall De Loughrey, David Conroy; Alan Duggan, Ivor White, Leo Duggan; Brian Guilfoyle, Alan O’Neill, Aaron Landy.
Subs: Eoin Hanrahan for A Duggan (40 minutes), Donal O’Halloran for White (55 minutes) and Conor Lyons for L Duggan (55 minutes).
Scorers: Alan O’Neill (2-4, 3f), Brian Guilfoyle and Niall De Loughrey (0-1 each).
Frees for: 10; wides: 10; 65s: 2.
Bookings: Ivor White (47 minutes).
Referee: Rory Hickey, Éire Óg.