THIS generation of Cratloe players just keep on giving to their club. Their latest delivery is the Jack Daly Cup and a first senior football championship title in the club’s 126-year history. They landed Jack with the minimum of fuss and without playing close to their optimum. This was underlined when the new champions played significantly better on Sunday in their provincial semi-final defeat of Ballinacourty.
Even in winning, Cratloe were somewhat understated. They greeted an era defining championship win in the same manner another club might celebrate a league title. Of course, the fact that they had to play again the following day was unquestionably a factor in that.
There was a nice symmetry to their success in that Óige Murphy captained Cratloe, 33 years after his father and Cratloe selector Martin, captained Kilmihil to their only senior championship in 1980.
What will disappoint Doonbeg most is that they didn’t really go for it. They defended fairly well as their concession of 10 points indicates but a return of just two points from their forwards in open play, clearly shows that they did not have the attacking thrust to sufficiently threaten Cratloe, who themselves didn’t score in the closing 13 minutes.
They did score two invaluable points however as half time approached. Cathal McInerney pointed both from frees, the first of which was a dubious free awarded against Conor Whelan for a foul on Podge Collins. Those points put Cratloe into a 0-6 to 0-3 half-time lead.
Podge Collins had earlier pointed Cratloe’s opening score, thereby becoming the first man from his club to score in a county football final. Cratloe failed to score in their 0-14 to 0-0 defeat to Newmarket in the 1887 final.
Liam Markham, who had an excellent first half, kicked two points from play, while McInerney also pointed a 23rd minute free, given for a foul on Podge Collins.
Brian Dillon put over Doonbeg’s first point from centre-back, while David Tubridy pointed The Magpies other first half scores, one from a free. His point from play was a lovely finish, after Óige Murphy had spilled possession.
Neither team set Cusack Park alight in the opening half. In fact, most of the excitement came before the ball was thrown in as the teams wheeled away from the parade and exchanged a few impolite blows before calming down for the national anthem.
A foul on Shane Ryan at the start of the second half led to David Tubridy pointing the free, leaving Cratloe 0-6 to 0-4 ahead. However points from a McInerney free and Seán Collins, set up by Fergal Lynch and Enda Boyce, helped Cratloe to re-establish control. They now led 0-8 to 0-4, seven minutes into the second half.
Conor Downes replied for Doonbeg but they were then hit by two crucial points from Óige Murphy and Podge Collins. Now 0-10 to 0-5 ahead, the title was Cratloe’s to lose. They should have completely wrapped it up, eleven minutes from time when Conor McGrath was put through by Liam Markham. However, McGrath delayed his shot and Doonbeg cleared to keep them in with a chance of rescuing it.
Ten minutes from full-time, David Tubridy pointed a free, won by Frank O’Dea, to reduce the deficit to four points. However, they didn’t add to their total until Tubridy pointed an injury time ’45, which was the game’s last score. It was awarded following an incisive Doonbeg move, which culminated with Paraic Aherne zipping a low, deflected shot just wide. At that stage Cratloe had opted for a defensive strategy with Podge Collins sitting back as an extra defender.
To Doonbeg’s credit they defended well and McGrath’s goal chance was the only goal opportunity they coughed up. However, perhaps they were a big too cautious, which limited their support play going forward. It must be said though that their attack was not threatening enough to win a county final.
Podge Collins was awarded the man of the match accolade and he did have a fine game, kicking two points, creating three more through frees or from play and winning two missed yet kickable frees.
However, Podge did kick five wides from play, albeit that further indicates how much he was involved in the play in the attacking third.
Conor Ryan must have been in serious contention for the award as well. Starting at wing forward, Ryan roamed all over the middle third of Cusack Park, repeatedly winning primary possession for Cratloe and defending with zest and purpose.
Fergal Lynch also had a fine game in the middle of the field, while Barry Duggan excelled at full-back, in what was generally a rock solid Cratloe back division. In attack, Liam Markham did his best work in the first half, putting over two critical points.
Doonbeg will be very disappointed with their display. When it mattered they didn’t have leaders in the middle third of the field, where they were significantly outworked by Cratloe. While Cratloe weren’t brilliant themselves, Doonbeg showed none of the bite and self-belief evident in their collection of 18 championships since 1955. They will enter 2014 with two titles on the sideboard since 2001. That would be a good return for most clubs but it doesn’t cut it in the Long Village and its environs.
In his first senior final, referee Barry Kelly blew for just 37 frees and overall was balanced in his officiating and kept up with the play. The skirmish, near the sideline before the game started, was partially down to the Tulla Pipe Band’s route in their march around the field. Their trek finished very close to the Doonbeg dugout.
However, Kelly didn’t appear to issue any cards to the bemused band members, who hadn’t factored in taking part in a row, when they packed their instruments on Sunday morning.
Cratloe: Pierce de Loughrey; Seán Chaplin, Barry Duggan, David Ryan; Óige Murphy (captain), Michael Hawes, Enda Boyce; Fergal Lynch, Cillian Duggan; Liam Markham, Podge Collins, Conor Ryan; Cathal McInerney, Seán Collins, Conor McGrath.
Sub: Pádraig Chaplin for Conor McGrath (58).
Scorers: Cathal McInerney (0-4f), Liam Markham, Podge Collins (0-2 each), Seán Collins and Óige Murphy (0-1 each).
Wides: 11; frees: 17; 45s: 1
Yellow cards: Seán Chaplin, David Ryan, Cathal McInerney.
Doonbeg: Eamon Tubridy; Pádraig Gallagher, Conor Whelan, Cian Clancy; Paraic Aherne, Brian Dillon, Joe Blake; Frank O’Dea, Colm Dillon; Ronan Goode, Shane O’Brien, David Tubridy (captain); Conor Downes, Enda Doyle, Shane Ryan.
Subs: Jamie Whelan for Cian Clancy (51), Brian Egan for Pádraig Gallagher (54, inj) and Paul Dillon for Shane Ryan (54).
Scorers: David Tubridy (0-5, 3f, 1 45’), Brian Dillon and Conor Downes (0-1 each).
Wides: 9; frees: 20; 45s: 2
Yellow cards: Frank O’Dea, Colm Dillon and Brian Egan.
Referee: Barry Kelly (St Joseph’s, Miltown).