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Clooney-Quin captain Patrick Finneran launches the celebrations after this side defeated Cratloe in the U15A hurling championship final. Photographs by Eugene McCafferty

GALLERY: Patience crucial to Clooney-Quin’s U15 triumph

U15A hurling final Clooney-Quin 2-16 Cratloe 2-11

Clooney-Quin relievedly made the perfect start to 2022 when finally holding off an obstinate Cratloe with the last four points to cement a first U-15A Hurling title since 2019 in Cusack Park on Saturday afternoon.

Having agonisingly suffered championship final defeats at Under 13B, 14A, 15B and Minor A in 2021, two of which were in Cusack Park, Clooney-Quin deservedly made full amends last Saturday to further enhance their growing underage influence.

In essence, Clooney-Quin possessed the better balance and having been the most consistent team in the competition throughout, there were some excellent displays in particular on Saturday from Darragh McNamara, Jerry O’Connor, Sean McNamara, Matthew Corbett, Cathal Leamy, Sean Cassidy and captain Patrick Finneran.

Cratloe, U-14B champions from 2021, were greatly reliant on Marc O’Brien and it was easy to see why as the towering centre-forward possessed pace, power and an ever-present threat to favourites Clooney-Quin.

Morris Ryan, Tadhg Lohan, Cian O’Gorman, Sam Mulholland and captain Eanna Collins were others to impress in a match in which Cratloe always seemed to be playing catch-up.

Indeed, despite being level on three occasions in the opening period and only a point in arrears entering the final ten minutes, Cratloe never managed to get their noses in front at any stage which was testament to Clooney-Quin’s defiance and constant ability to be able to roll with the punches.

A goal in the opening minute of both halves certainly helped, with captain Finneran teeing up Darragh McNamara to get off to the dream start after only 30 seconds of the throw-in.

A trio of long range frees from Marc O’Brien wiped out that goal by only the fourth minute but Jerry O’Connor was equally adept from placed balls and managed to hold off O’Brien’s best efforts to keep Clooney-Quin in the ascendency at 1-5 to 0-6 by the 25th minute.

Cratloe were always within striking distance though and after Sam Mulholland pointed in the 27th minute, inevitably O’Brien was on hand to regain full parity by the break with his seventh point of the contest at 1-5 to 0-8.

That pattern would be replicated for the new half as Clooney-Quin shot out of the blocks once more to raid for 1-2 within four minutes including a pulled goal from Patrick Finneran to soar 2-7 to 0-8 clear.

O’Brien’s prowess ensured that the lead was never comfortable as evidenced when he looted 1-1 in the space of a minute to slash the arrears to just one by the 37th minute.

Crucially, Clooney-Quin never panicked despite seeing a treble goal chance from Conor Clancy, Lochlann Carey and Darragh McNamara somehow repelled by some superb last ditch defending from Sean O’Gorman at the two thirds mark.

They had much more luck over O’Gorman’s crossbar as five unanswered points through O’Connor (2), Donncha Mahon, David Cahill and Darragh McNamara provided Clooney-Quin’s biggest advantage of the afternoon at 2-12 to 1-9 by the turn of the final quarter.

And yet they simply couldn’t shake off Cratloe whose powers of elasticity to keep bouncing back were admirable, this time a brace of Marc O’Brien points sandwiched a rousing Mulholland goal in the 50th minute to lessen the damage to the minimum again at 2-12 to 2-11.

Time wouldn’t be on their side to do likewise for a final time when Clooney-Quin impressively got themselves back on the frontfoot with the last four points, three from the guiding light of Jerry O’Connor to finally seal victory in what was only the club’s third ever Under 15A crown.

Clooney-Quin: Ben O’Halloran; Sean Cassidy, Sean McNamara, Matthew Murphy; Michael Hassett, Matthew Corbett, Cathal Leamy; David Cahill, Jerry O’Connor; Conor Clancy, Patrick Finneran (Captain), Donncha Mahon; Lochlann Carey, Darragh McNamara, Conan Fennell Sub: Mark McGrath for Mahon (54). Scorers: Jerry O’Connor (0-10, 9f); Darragh McNamara (1-2); Patrick Finneran (1-1); Lochlann Carey, Donncha Mahon, David Cahill (0-1 each)

Cratloe: Sean O’Gorman; Rian Collins, Eanna Collins (Captain), Harry Strogen; Odhran Sheppard, Morris Ryan, Cathal O’Doherty; Tadhg Lohan, Gareth Murphy; Sam Mullholland, Marc O’Brien, Aaron Kelly; David O’Callaghan, Cian O’Gorman, Ian O’Brien . Subs: James Boyce for O’Callaghan (23), Jack Rafferty for Boyce (51). Scorers: Marc O’Brien (1-10, 6f); Sam Mulholland (1-1)

Referee: Gus Callaghan (Feakle)

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