By Seamus Hayes
Kilmallock 1-32 Cratloe 3-18
In a cracking Munster club senior hurling championship final at the Gaelic grounds in Limerick on Sunday, a physically stronger Kilmallock dominated extra time to claim the title at the expense of Clare champions, Cratloe.
Before an attendance of 6,365, the champions of the neighbouring Shannonside counties produced a truly marvellous contest, recording some magnificent scores in the process.
It was anybody’s game in normal time as play switched from end to end with both sides looking like winners at different times. In extra time, Kilmallock dominated and deservingly captured the honours but an eight point winning margin is rather flattering.
The Limerick side’s captain Graeme Mulcahy gave his side the lead after just ten seconds but Cratloe dominated the next ten minutes, scoring 1-2 without reply and they could have had another two goals and a couple of points in that period.
Kilmallock grew in confidence as the half progressed and when the half time whistle sounded they were three points ahead, 0-12 to 1-6. They extended their advantage to four eleven minutes into the second half but Cratloe have shown all season that they have a strong side and they came storming back with 1-3 without reply to go two clear with eleven minutes remaining.
In addition to conceding these scores, Kilmallock were reduced to fourteen men when Gavin O’Mahony was shown red by referee Fergal Horgan who first consulted with his umpires
In the space of a minute the Limerick champions had levelled. Points were exchanged before Cathal McInerney edged the Cratloe men one clear with five minutes go to. Four minutes from the end Kilmallock had a goal from Jake Mulcahy and it looked to be all over for Cratloe but they refused to accept defeat and a minute from time they went in front when Conor McGrath fired home their third goal.
Now it was Kilmallock’s turn to fight back and that’s just what they did with points from the Mulcahy brothers, Jake and Graeme to lead as the tie went into ‘injury time.
Gearoid Ryan found Oige Murphy with the puckout and the midfielder split the uprights from 70m to send the game to extra time.
Sensing that Cratloe might find the extra period too much for the second week in succession, Kilmallock piled on the pressure from the outset in extra time and at the end of the first period they had opened a three point lead. This time there was no way back for the Clare champions and the winners added a further five points without reply in the second period on their way to a first Munster title in twenty years.
Paudie O’Brien, Bryan O’Sullivan, Jake and Graeme Mulcahy and substitute Robbie Hanley stood out for the Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin trained Kilmallock. Cratloe’s best on the day were Conor Ryan, Sean Chaplin, Sean Collins, Cathal McInerney and Conor McGrath.
Kilmallock;–Barry Hennessy; Aaron Costello, Mark O’Loughlin, Liam Hurley; Liam Walsh, Philip O’Loughlin, Kevin O’Donnell (0-1); Paudie O’Brien (0-4) Bryan O’Sullivan (0-7); Jake Mulcahy (1-6), Gavin O’Mahoney (0-1) Robbie Egan; Kieran Kennelly (0-1) Graeme Mulcahy (0-6), Eoin Ryan (0-5);
Subs—Robbie Hanley for Kennelly; Paddy O’Loughlin (0-1) for O’Mahony in extra time;
Cratloe;–Gearoid Ryan; Shane O’Leary, Michael Hawes, David Ryan; Sean Chaplin, Conor Ryan, Enda Boyce; Martin ‘Oige’ Murphy (0-1) Liam Markham (0-3); Shane Gleeson, Podge Collins (0-1), Sean Collins (0-3); Conor McGrath (1-6), Gearoid Considine (1-0), Cathal McInerney (1-3);
Subs—David Collins (0-1) for Gleeson; Damian Browne for Considine; Barry Duggan for O’Leary; Considine for Murphy;
Referee—Fergal Horgan, Tipperary