Cratloe 0-12 St Patrick’s 0-6
HIGH-flying Cratloe have presented Munster Council chiefs with an unexpected fixtures headache after their intermediate footballers overcame the handicap of an early sending off to completely outclass St Patrick’s, Limerick, in the second half of this fiercely contested provincial opening tie.
Cratloe’s senior hurlers are this week gearing up for a tilt against Waterford champions Ballygunner in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship following their last-gasp win over reigning champions Clonlara in the decider on Sunday, November 1.
With at least 10 dual stars in contention for a starting place on both teams, Cratloe will be anxious to ensure there is an adequate rest period between both games.
Four years ago, Cratloe suffered a drubbing when they travelled to the backyard of Cork champions Roscarbury in the first round of the provincial intermediate football series.
The odds seemed to be stacked against Cratloe booking a place to meet Cork champions Valley Rovers in this year’s Munster IFC semi-final, when their wing-forward Liam Markham was sent for an early shower in the 14th minute in Terryglass on Sunday.
With the sides deadlocked at 0-5 apiece at the interval, one wondered whether the fatigue factor would derail Cratloe’s chances of victory, particularly following the celebrations early in the week marking the arrival of the Canon Hamilton Trophy in the village for the first time.
It has been an extraordinary season for Cratloe, whose adult and underage football and hurling teams have played championship games 14 out of 15 weekends.
Lining out with eight senior hurlers who started against Clonlara, as well as two substitutes, there was a danger that Cratloe could run out of steam in the last 10 minutes having played a man down for over 35 minutes.
However, they completely outclassed the Limerick intermediate champions in the second half, firing over seven points without reply to score a comfortable six-point victory.
Their winning margin could have been doubled if the South-East Clare men, who lined out with eight U-21s, including four minors, converted two of their goal-scoring chances in the opening half.
The most clear-cut came in the 20th minute when a Pádraig Chaplin pass put Conor McGrath through and with the goalie beaten his powerful drive rocketed off the crossbar and was temporarily cleared outfield. McGrath gained some consolation when he scored a point after winning possession for a second time.
Just before the interval, Conor McGrath was off target with a shot but had he had spotted one of his colleagues unmarked just outside the goalmouth, a goal could have easily been taken.
Although scores were at a premium in the opening half, the crowd of about 200 were treated to some bouts of good, attacking football on an excellent surface considering the downpour on Saturday.
Cratloe looked ring-rusty in the opening minutes following the four-week gap since their success in the intermediate football final against Corofin by the narrowest of margins on a 0-7 to 0-6 scoreline.
Points from Dermot Phelan and a converted John Mullane free put St Patrick’s 0-2 to 0-0 in front until Seán Collins won a free in Cratloe’s first attack in the fifth minute, which Cathal McInerney converted.
McInerney equalised with a well-taken point from play. Pat Mullins and Liam Markham from frees traded points at either end to leave the sides all-square at 0-3 apiece in the 10th minute.
Four minutes later, Cratloe suffered a real setback when Liam Markham was sent off on a second yellow card by referee Aidan Mongan, much to the disgust of their supporters, who felt the first one in the fourth minute was unduly harsh after Markham had become entangled with Dermot Phelan.
St Patrick’s right wing-back Tony Quigley operated as the extra man and even though he won a lot of possession, his colleagues couldn’t turn it into scores.
Sandwiched in between two converted John Mullane frees was a point from Cathal McInerney at the other end before a Conor McGrath point from play ensured parity at the interval.
St Patrick’s midfielder Colm Brassil was fortunate to escape with just a yellow card for a tackle on Martin Ogie Murphy off the ball a few minutes before the interval.
When Niall Phelan put St Patrick’s ahead four minutes after the re-start, Cratloe refused to become deflated and equalised two minutes later thanks to an effort from Conor Ryan.
Once Cathal McInerney converted a free to put Cratloe in front for the first time in the 41st minute, the winners grew in confidence and produced a sparkling display in the closing 20 minutes.
Cratloe looked very solid in defence thanks to the efforts of Barry Duggan and Michael Hawes while Martin Oige Murphy and Seán Chaplin worked tirelessly to set up countless counter-attacks with great solo runs and support play. St Patrick’s wing-forward John Mullane was the only forward who consistently looked dangerous any time he won possession.
Conor Ryan caught the eye at midfield while up front the pace of Seán Collins, Conor McGrath and Padraic Collins created gaps in the St Patrick’s rearguard.
Substitute Joe O’Connor put two points on the board in the 48th minute before Martin Oige Murphy finished off a great attacking movement with a superb inspirational point.
St Patrick’s were left reeling when Seán Collins, Padraic Collins and Seán Hynan fired over three successive points in the closing minutes.
Cratloe: Wesley de Loughrey; John O’Gorman, Barry Duggan, Barry Gleeson; Martin Oige Murphy, Michael Hawes, Seán Chaplin; Kevin Browne, Conor Ryan; Liam Markham, Seán Collins, Pádraig Chaplin; Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath, Padraic Collins.
Subs: Joe O’Connor 37 mins for Kevin Browne, Seán Hynan 38 mins for Pádraig Chaplin, Dean de Loughrey 58 mins for John O’Gorman.
Scorers: Cathal McInerney (0-4, three frees); Martin Oige Murphy, Conor Ryan, Liam Markham (free), Seán Collins, Conor McGrath, Padraic Collins, Seán Hynan, Joe O’Connor (0-1, each).
Frees: 22; Wides: 7; 45s: 0
Yellow cards: Liam Markham 4 mins; Liam Markham 14 mins, Conor McGrath 49 mins.
Red card: Liam Markham 14 mins.
St Patrick’s: Daragh McMahon; David Sheehan, Keith Phelan, Barry Toomey; Tony Quigley, Keith Phelan, Barry Doherty; Dermot Phelan, Colm Brasil; John Mullane, Gearóid Phelan, Cian Hanrahan; Niall Phelan, Pat Mullins, Eoin Hanrahan.
Scorers: John Mullane (0-3, frees), Pat Mullins, Dermot Phelan, Niall Phelan (0-1, each).
Subs: Pakie Bourke 41 mins for David Sheehan; Shane Considine 41 mins for Barry Toomey.
Frees: 11; Wides: 4; 45s: 2.
Yellow cards: Colm Brassil 21 mins, Barry O’Doherty 39 mins, Dave Sheehan 49 mins.
Red card: Gearóid Phelan, 58 mins.
Referee: Aidan Mongan