Cratloe 0-7 Corofin 0-6
PERHAPS the debate at the Cratloe GAA Club AGM last year, which centred on whether the club should continue playing football seriously or not, motivated those whose first sport is the big ball one.
Since then, Cratloe have won their first U-21A football title and have now added an intermediate crown, last won in 2004.
In sneaking past Corofin in Clarecastle last Sunday, Cratloe fought their way back to senior football, even if the quality of the game didn’t indicate that either would be capable of immediately prospering at senior level.
Yet while the standard wasn’t very high, the closeness of the scoreline ensured that there was plenty of excitement.
Cratloe wing-back Óige Murphy crowned it all when he kicked a sublime championship-winning point, from an acute angle on the left wing, three minutes into injury time.
It was Murphy’s second point from play and a score that he will have no trouble regularly recounting in the weeks and months ahead.
Cratloe led 0-5 to 0-2, three minutes into the second half, after Joe O’Connor had pointed a soft free won by Liam Markham.
They didn’t score again until the 21st minute though, when Cathal McInerney calmly pointed a 21-yard free from a tricky angle on the 21-yard line near the sideline.
Although they had dominated most of the second half, Corofin were now 0-6 to 0-5 down. Two minutes from full-time, Damien Ryan, who played excellent football following his introduction, equalised after Colm Clancy had been fouled by Seán Chaplin.
A draw, which would have caused fixture problems in both hurling and football, looked inevitable until Murphy struck for glory.
The winners had led 0-4 to 0-2 at the interval. Murphy, Seán Collins with an impressive solo effort, Cathal McInerney and Murphy scored their points, while Darren Malone pointed both of Corofin’s scores from first-half frees.
Twelve minutes into the second half, Colm Clancy won but then missed a 21-yard free, dead straight in front of the Cratloe goal.
After O’Connor’s early second-half pointed free, scores from Darragh Clancy, Dara Shannon and Damien Ryan from a free, tied the scores at 0-5 each, 11 minutes from full-time.
The final 10 minutes, along with injury time, were incident packed. After Murphy’s ultimately winning score, John Keane kicked a wild shot wide, when maybe a small bit more composure could have rescued Corofin.
They were deeply unhappy with referee Michael Fitzgerald’s display. A minute into injury time, with the teams level, Corofin were denied what looked like a certain free, when a decision was made to throw the ball in.
Earlier, Dara Shannon appeared to be fouled while kicking but he wasn’t awarded a free. Corofin missed several scoreable chances and only scored two points from play in total.
The winners had a couple of gripes too, notably when Seán Hynan was buckled by a mammoth hit, which appeared fair from this reporter’s angle but others felt was high.
Fielding eight U-21s from the start and four minors, Cratloe manfully went toe to toe with Corofin, although the winners didn’t produce the flowing football they are capable of.
Barry Duggan played outstanding football at full-back and his second-half block-down on Darren Malone contributed as much as any incident towards Cratloe’s win. His early involvement had also set a very positive tone for his side.
Elsewhere, Óige Murphy and Podge Collins played well for the winners, while Conor McGrath added zest and direction to the Cratloe forward line when he was brought on. Liam Markham was much more effective at wing-back than in the Cratloe full-forward line.
Diarmuid Daly defended resolutely for Corofin at corner-back, using his speed and anticipation very effectively. Ollie O’Loughlin, Dara Clancy and Damien Ryan were the best of the rest for Corofin.
Surely now, the forthcoming Cratloe GAA Club AGM will adopt a more benign approach towards the big ball game?
Cratloe: Jamie Joyce; Barry Gleeson, Barry Duggan, Seán Chaplin; Wes de Loughrey, Michael Hawes, Óige Murphy; Kevin Browne (captain), Conor Ryan; Liam Markham, Seán Collins, Joe O’Connor; Cathal McInerney, Padraig Chaplin, Podge Collins.
Subs: Seán Hynan for Padraig Chaplin, Conor McGrath for Joe O’Connor and John O’Gorman for Jamie Joyce (injured).
Scorers: Óige Murphy 0-2, Cathal McInerney and Joe O’Connor 0-2f each and Seán Collins 0-1.
Frees won: 25. Wides: 4. 45s: 1.
Yellow cards: Conor Ryan.
Corofin: Kieran Carkhill; Ollie O’Loughlin, Donnacha Kelleher, Diarmuid Daly; Eamon Dunne, Darragh Clancy, Neil Killeen; Luke O’Loughlin, Dara Shannon; Brendan Keane, Eamon Malone, John Shannon; Darren Malone, John Keane, Colm Clancy (captain).
Subs: Damien Ryan for Brendan Keane and Kevin Heagney for Eamon Malone.
Scorers: Darren Malone and Damien Ryan 0-2f each, Darragh Clancy and Dara Shannon 0-1 each.
Frees won: 19. Wides: 5. 45s: 1.
Yellow cards: Dara Shannon, Colm Clancy and Diarmuid Daly.
Referee: Michael Fitzgerald (Clondegad).