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2010 Co.Snr.H.Final Crusheen V Cratloe

posted 15 Oct 2010, 04:38 by Unknown user   [ updated 15 Oct 2010, 04:39 by Denis Tuohy Agricultural Consultant ]

Somewhere over the din, Martin Murphy’s voice sailed out with the cheers
after Barry Duggan’s acceptance speech last October. “Glory Cratloe”,
trumpeted Martin and the crowd rowed in. The slogan had made itself a
friend to Jack Murphy and Kilmihil football in Martin’s playing days of
the 1970’s and 80’s. In 2009, Cratloe had adopted it. This year it has
made it onto Paddy Mac’s Wall, Donaghue’s Bridge, Lamposts, Silage Bales,
Bunting and even under the collar of the jersey that Cratloe will wear
next Sunday.

However what ‘Glory Kilmihil’ doesn’t tell you is the history of the team
that had befriended it. Kilmihil’s friends in Kilrush, the bluebloods of
Clare football in the 70’s were quick to congratulate their neighbours of
their ‘one in a row’ when Kilmihil, who came home from the County Final
emptyhanded five times between the two decades, at last breached the
surface as champions of  1980. One day in the sun maybe, but what a day.
It punched an interuption of six County titles in seven years for The
Shamrocks including their legendary five on the trot. So ‘Glory Kilmihil’
rang out once, but it rang out loud.

The same challenge present itself to Cratloe this Sunday. Are they a good
team in an open championship? A “one in a row” team. Or are they a right
good team, the first to be engraved back to back on the base of the Canon
Hamilton since St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in 1998/99. Nobody calls
Joseph’s a flash in the pan.

Much much more than any of the history or the statistics that stand in
their way on Sunday is the village of the little cross – Crusheen. Three
times Crusheen have marched behind the Tulla pipes only to fall short on
all three – 1970, 74 and most recently in 2007 when their current manager
and native Michael Browne stood in the opposite dressing room with Tulla.

“It was one of those bittersweet occasions”, said Browne in this weeks
Clare Champion. “One year prervious to that final you would have got a
million to one on a Crusheen-Tulla final. My aim when I got involved last
year was to try and get them back into a County Final. I really wanted
them to get back there to another and so long as we can say we have done
ourselves justice and I can say I have done no more, that is all we can
ask for”.

Browne’s Crusheen side have garnered the reputation, and rightfully so, of
having the meanest defence in Clare hurling. So much so perhaps, that the
talk tends to thin out their attacking threat. But an interesting
statistic uncovered in the build up to Sunday’s final is that they have
only fallen eleven points behind Cratloe’s 2010 scoring total….with a game
less played. Any attack with Paddy Meaney, Gearoid O Donnell, Niall
Kennedy and their intercounty talisman Gerry O Grady are worthy of a place
in a County Final and perhaps Crusheen six up front may be the final’s
surprise package. There’s little to be said for Crusheen’s backs. They’re
touted as the perfect antidote for Cratloe’s pacey forwards. It’s not
every club that can sacrifice losing an all-star nominee, turn him into a
forward and yet hold their standing as Clare’s tightest rearguard.

The journey to the County Final saw Crusheen overcome Sixmilebridge their
Semi in an enthralling game which swapped hands again and again by 13pts
to 12. They accounted for Clarecastle in the Quarters by a goal 1-10 to
0-10 and in their group games they qualified with very comprehensive wins
over Corofin, Ballyea and St. Josephs. The only blip being a one point
defeat to Clonlara.

Cratloe arrive after wins v. Wolfe Tones and Inagh/Kilnamona, a draw with
Sixmilebridge and a loss to Tubber. Newmarket were pipped the quarter
finals before Clonlara were defeated in last weekends Semi at the second
time of asking.

Sunday’s pairing is certainly seen as a collision of two contrasting
styles. Crusheen to date thrive on a compact physical game. Dominant under
puckouts in their half back line and quick to limit space to the
opposition. The opposite techniques are what Cratloe’s game thrives upon.
Their forwards and their scoring potential is no secret at this stage but
their duel against these backs is expected to be their hardest yet. And
maybe Cratloe are in the same boat as their contenders. Does the talk of
their attack veil the steel of their backs?. The second half performance
of Michael Hawes, Barry Duggan and co. against Clonlara in the replayed
Semi final and most notably in their Quarter Final tie with Newmarket
showed a sterness not associated with Cratloe before last years

All these stats, ifs, buts, and maybes will be Mondays cat-litter if the
last four County Finals are anything to go by. Four in which the underdogs
have always won. That’s probably a warning to Cratloe, as ever so slightly
they may wear the favourites tag this weekend. To get to where they are
now though, Cratloe have had scant regard for form and it may serve them
well to do so again Sunday. They know Crusheen will be doing anything not
to let another title slip.

Ar Aghaidh Linn

Cratloe vs Crusheen
2010 Co. SHC Final – Cusack Park Ennis, 3;30pm Sunday
Referee; Seanie McMahon, Cora Chaitlín