Spa 2-11 Cratloe 0-10
SPA’S second goal, netted in first-half injury time, and a fortuitous point seven minutes from full time, helped the Killarney club to eventually shake off Cratloe in Mallow last Sunday.
Michael O’Donoghue, who flitted between full and centre-forward, scored that decisive 1-1 and added a further 1-2 from play in an impressive individual display.
The second goal pushed Spa into a 2-4 to 0-5 interval lead, having played against a biting wind.
The Kerry champions exploded into the Munster intermediate final and had established a 1-2 to 0-0 advantage after just seven minutes. With their defenders largely playing behind their men and only Conor McGrath looking sharp up front, the portents suggested that Cratloe might be in for a hiding.
Fielding five minors and a total of eight U-21s in their starting 15, Cratloe displayed admirable tenacity in clawing their way into the game.
Once they moved Podge Collins back to help tighten up their defence, Cratloe steadied and kicked a trio of points from Conor McGrath, Seán Collins and Liam Markham.
In this period, McGrath and Óige Murphy kicked a brace of wides, while Barry Duggan bravely diverted a Michael O’Donoghue goal effort for a 45’.
Eoin Cronin and Niall O’Mahony shot Spa into a 1-4 to 0-3 lead eight minutes before the interval, before Conor McGrath and Cathal McInerney responded with a clinical brace, leaving Cratloe just 1-4 to 0-5 adrift as the game veered into injury time. It was at that stage that O’Donoghue struck for his second and Spa’s killer goal.
As has been their custom throughout 2009, Cratloe refused to accept that the result was inevitable. Instead, they took the game to Spa for most of the second half. The fact that Spa only added a single point to their half-time total in the opening 23 minutes of the second period, underlines Cratloe’s dominance.
Cathal McInerney and Joe O’Connor from frees, along with Padraig Chaplin and Seán Collins from play, pulled Cratloe to within striking distance, 2-5 to 0-9, seven minutes from full time.
In fact, had Chaplin controlled Seán Collins’ pass a bit quicker, he could have slotted his third crucial goal of the winter.
A bizarre James Devane kick-out, which evaded everyone until it reached O’Donoghue at centre-forward, resulted in Spa’s top scorer pointing his side 2-6 to 0-9 ahead.
With Cratloe attacking from everywhere and leaving acres of space behind them, Spa hit them for five additional points within five blistering minutes. Man of the match O’Donohgue kicked two of them, while the winners’ three second-half substitutes slotted a point apiece.
Seán Collins pointed his third and Cratloe’s final score three minutes into injury time.
O’Donoghue was clearly Spa’s key man, while Fergus Clifford at corner-back, Eoin Cronin and Niall O’Mahony also excelled for the Kerry club, who were a bit sharper and cannier than their Clare opponents.
Wes De Loughrey played solidly in goals for Cratloe, while Conor McGrath and Seán Collins were the best of the Clare club’s attack. Óige Murphy, like most Cratloe men, played much better for much of the second half when he attacked the game and largely played in front of his man.
While their footballing year didn’t end gloriously, it ended honourably for Cratloe, who showed admirable pride and resolve throughout the second half.
Come 2010, they will have to contend with playing senior hurling and football. That will be another year’s work.
Spa: James Devane; Brian Gleeson, Aidan Cahill, Fergus Clifford; Bryan Russell, Hugh O’Donoghue, Eoin Cronin; Andrew Garnett, Kevin Healy; Conor Gleeson, Pa Murphy, Niall O’Mahony (captain); Cian Tobin, Michael O’Donoghue, Tomás Lynch.
Subs: Shane Lynch for Brian Gleeson, Cormac Cronin for Pa Murphy, Adam O’Reilly for Niall O’Mahony (injured) and Paul Russell for Andrew Garnett.
Scorers: Michael O’Donoghue (2-3), Niall O’Mahony (0-2), Cian Tobin, Conor Gleeson, Eoin Cronin, Adam O’Reilly, Paul Russell and Cormac Cronin (0-1 each).
Wides: 7. Frees won: 8. 45s: 1.
Yellow cards: Pa Murphy, Bryan Russell, Eoin Cronin and Fergus Clifford.
Cratloe: Wes De Loughrey; John O’Gorman, Barry Duggan, Barry Gleeson; Óige Murphy, Liam Markham, Seán Chaplin; Kevin Browne, Michael Hawes; Seán Hynan, Seán Collins, Podge Collins; Conor McGrath, Conor Ryan, Cathal McInerney.
Scorers: Seán Collins (0-3), Conor McGrath (0-2), Cathal McInerney (0-2, 1f) Padraig Chaplin (0-1), Liam Markham and Joe O’Connor (0-1 each, free).
Wides: 7. Frees won: 19.
Yellow card: John O’Gorman.
Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary).
Mistakes and inexperience cost South-East Clare side
MISTAKES allied to an element of inexperience contributed to Cratloe’s demise in Mallow, the Clare intermediate champions’ manager, Colm Collins, said after the game.
The former Kilmihil and Clare senior footballer did, however, commend his team for the manner of their second-half display.
“We made a lot of mistakes today that we never made before. I thought we stood off them a bit at the start of the game instead of being in front. They gave a great battling display in the second half but I suppose we needed a goal,” Collins said.
Having viewed the game from the embankment behind both dugouts, following a four-month suspension imposed after the provincial semi-final against Valley Rovers the week before, Collins felt that Michael O’Donoghue’s goal just before half time was a huge setback.
“It was a very stupid goal in the sense that it should have been a point at the other side. We were a bit naïve but I wouldn’t be too despondent.
“There were five minors in that team and they’ll come again. As you keep progressing you come up against cleverer players and you need to do things faster,” the Cratloe manager noted.
Next year, Cratloe will field teams at senior level in both hurling and football, which will present a fresh challenge, given that the club have up to 12 dual players.
“We’re going to have to up it a bit and we’re going to have to work hard to stay there and compete up there.
“But I think we’ve the boys to do it and hopefully we can. And hopefully we can do the two in conjunction with each other,” Collins said.
In the meantime, the club can relax and recall a year in which they brought a senior hurling, intermediate football and U-21 football title to the parish.
Lawlor rues lucky Spa point
CRATLOE selector Ger Lawlor is convinced that Michael O’Donoghue’s 53rd minute point was every bit as significant as either of the Spa full-forward’s brace of goals.
That score, which followed a Spa kick-out that evaded the clutches of several players before O’Donoghue controlled it, steadied the Kerry men at a time when they were nearly at breaking point.
“We were back in the game, just two points down. Two lads went for it. But sure that’s the way. We can’t complain. They put in a great second-half performance but we showed them too much respect starting off,” the Cratloe-based Laois man said.
“Those lads (Spa) are playing football since they can walk, so it just takes a little bit of time to get used to that. You can’t fault our lads, though. They put in a great performance. The goal before half time was definitely a killer though. That’s the joys of it,” he sighed.
As for 2010, Lawlor feels that Cratloe could do with an additional player or two.
“We’re appealing for a few players to come and join us from South-East Clare. Or maybe from East Clare,” he laughed.
Spa manager Seán Moynihan was ecstatic, yet didn’t hide his admiration for Cratloe.
“My heart goes out to Cratloe because I don’t know how I would handle it if we were beaten here today because it meant so much to us. But I’d have to congratulate Cratloe on the year that they are after having. We had total respect for them. We had a target here today. We had a game plan and we stuck to it,” Moynihan commented.
“That was a crucial goal and no better man than Mike O’Donoghue,” he said with reference to his side’s second green flag. “He really stood up to the plate today. I think Jack O’Connor should be seriously looking at this guy,” the Spa manager maintained.