Cratloe 1-14 Inagh/Kilnamona 0-14
Cratloe will meet Newmarket-on-Fergus in the Clare SHC final on Sunday week after they came from behind to defeat Inagh/Kilnamona at Cusack Park, Ennis yesterday.
A goal by Cathal McInerney five minutes from the end proved the turning point in a game that saw underdogs Inagh/Kilnamona lead from the 17th to the 65th minute.
2009 champions Cratloe would not be happy with their opening half performance having trailed by 0-10 to 0-5 at the break. But a gritty comeback, drawing on an amount of experience, enabled them to contest a third decider in four years.
From the restart, Cratloe recorded four unanswered points inside 12 minutes. However, Inagh/Kilnamona managed to keep their noses in front until a splendid movement by Cratloe full-forward Conor McGrath provided McInerney with the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the square and make it 1-12 to 0-14.
McGrath added a point before an Inagh/Kilnamona 20m free by goalkeeper Pa Kelly was stopped on the line in injury time. He hit a point at the death but they could not force the goal they needed.
Scorers for Cratloe: C McGrath 0-11 (9fs, 1 65), C McInerney 1-1, G Ryan, S Collins 0-1 each.
Scorers for Inagh/Kilnamona: N Arthur 0-7 (5fs), G Arthur 0-4 (1f), E Glynn 0-3.
CRATLOE: S Hayes; J O’Gorman, B Duggan, E Boyce; M Hawes, C Ryan, L Markham; M Murphy, S Collins; S Chaplin, P Collins, D Browne; C McInerney, C McGrath, G Ryan.
Subs: D Ryan for Chaplin (41), S Gleeson for Browne (46).
INAGH/KILNAMONA: P Kelly; M Keane, J Davin, D Lynch (capt); D Lafferty, R O’Looney, B Glynn; T Kelly, H Vaughan; E Vaughan, E Glynn, G Arthur; C Tierney, C Lafferty, N Arthur.
Subs: S Griffin for H Vaughan (54).
Referee: R Hickey (Éire Óg, Ennis).
Newmarket 0-12 Clonlara 1-8
Two minutes from the end of this hard fought tie at O’Garney Park, wing-back Niall O’Connor struck a magnificent point for Newmarket to seal victory and a place in the Clare Senior Hurling Championship final.
There was no quarter asked or given in this tie and both sides were fortunate to finish the game with a full complement of players.
With the lead changing on a number of occasions and the teams drawing level three times, Newmarket put in the stronger finish and outscored their opponents, 0-5 to 0-1, in the last 25 minutes.
In the view of their team manager Bob Enright, “it had to be a fierce battle. If we came in and played an open game of hurling, Clonlara would have killed us on the scoreboard. We had to make it a battle and we did.”
He was quick to pay tribute to Clonlara for their part in this contest “It just happened that after 60 minutes we were a point ahead. It’s desperate hard luck on Clonlara, they fought equally hard, It takes two teams to do this,” he said.
“The one thing we said at half time was that this was panning out the very same as our other three or four games, not an inch given, fight and scrap for everything.
“If you look at our record for the last three or four years, we came up short but we were always beaten by the county champions or the team that went on to win it. We were always very close and we have put ourselves in a position now to win it,” he said.
Nothing is won yet, he warned. “We are still only in the next round. There is a quietness and a calmness about the lads that we need for the next two weeks which is the one thing that impresses me about them,” he added.
Meanwhile Clonlara coach Donal Madden was clearly disappointed with the result but he acknowledged “they were better than us on the day. They wanted it more. They won more of the 50-50 breaks. We are bitterly disappointed”.
He agreed that his side “had a few chances especially early in the game. We had a goal chance that we didn’t take. We are gutted now,” he said.
Newmarket created the first scoring opportunity but Colin Ryan’s decision to take a quick free resulted in possession being lost and Clonlara launched a counter attack that ended with a free which Cathal O’Connell converted for the game’s opening score in the third minute.
Newmarket levelled with a superb point from Colin Ryan in the sixth minute and he followed with a huge strike from a 100m free for the lead score in the ninth minute. Mike McInerney had their third a minute later as they looked to be getting a grip on the tie.
Clonlara had a slight edge in the middle period of this tie and points from a Cathal O’Connell free from an acute angle and from play by John Conlon had the sides level by the 18th minute.
Shortly before this Clonlara’s William Slattery and John Conlon picked up injuries in the same passage of play. Slattery went off to receive attention and while he returned a few minutes later he was replaced at the break. Conlon continued but the leg injury he suffered clearly slowed him down.
Ten minutes from the break Clonlara had a great goal chance. Darach Honan superbly grabbed a delivery from outfield and he laid the ball off to Tommy Begley whose strike went to the wrong side of the posts with the Newmarket defence beaten.
This let-of sparked a response from Newmarket and they hit back with points from David Barrett and a brace from Ryan in as many minutes. Again it was Clonlara’s turn to respond and this they did impressively. Cathal O’Connell converted another free before they struck for the game’s only goal.
Newmarket goalie Darren Duggan won possession and, as he soloed away, was dispossessed by Darach Honan who shot low to the net. Colin Ryan missed from a 65 and things looked to be going in Clonlara’s favour as Cathal O’Connell converted another free to go two points ahead.
Four minutes of injury time followed and in the last of these Clonlara conceded a rather soft free which Ryan converted to leave the half time score at 1-5 to 0-7.
Clonlara had the better of the early second half exchanges and added points by Colm Galvin and Nicky O’Connell (free) to open a one-goal advantage. The Blues responded with a brace from Colin Ryan before the respective freetakers Cathal O’Connell and Ryan exchanged points from placed balls to leave the score at 1-8 to 0-10 at the turn of the final quarter.
There were just two further scores in the game, a Ryan point from a 20m free in the 21st and then O’Connor’s matchwinning score two minutes from the end of normal time.
Newmarket: Darren Duggan; Eoin O’Brien, James McInerney, Sean O’Connor; Niall O’Connor, Enda Barrett (capt), Alan Barrett; Eoin Hayes, Martin O’Hanlon; David Barrett, Niall Enright, Mike McInerney; Shane Kelleher, Anthony Kilmartin, Colin Ryan.
Subs: James Liddy for Kilmartin (37m); Shane O’Brien junior for Kelleher (48m); Ronan Goode for Enright (53m); Darren O’Connor for D Barrett (61m).
Scorers: Colin Ryan (0-9, 6f, 1 65); Mike McInerney, David Barrett, Niall O’Connor (0-1 each).
Clonlara: Ger O’Connell; Shane O’Brien, Domhnaill O’Donovan, Pat O’Hare; Cillian Fennessy, Nicky O’Connell, Paul Nihill; Cormac O’Donovan, Colm Galvin; William Slattery, Tomas O’Donovan, John Conlon; Tommy Begley, Darach Honan, Cathal O’Connell.
Subs: Ronan Carey for Slattery (inj half time); Jason Murphy for T O’Donovan (47m); Michael O’Loughlin for Begley (55m);
Referee: Ambrose Heagney, Corofin.