Eoin Brennan reports from Cusack Park, Ennis
CRATLOE WILL FACE Ballyea in this year’s Clare senior hurling final after clinging on for a minimum victory over intermediate champions Kilmaley in Cusack Park this afternoon.
19 wides apiece told its own story of a nervy low-scoring affair in admittedly blustery conditions that was in the balance right up to the final whistle as Kilmaley’s final two attacks failed to trouble the umpires.
Rian Considine marked his senior semi-final bow with 1-4 from play, with his 40th minute goal crucial to stemming the Kilmaley tide that was backed by the wind.
Indeed, that goal proved the main difference for the remainder until Kilmaley substitute Eamonn Bracken and top-scorer Mikey O’Malley fired two injury-time points to set up an anxious finale.
Cratloe did lead from start to finish though, snatching the whip hand with the wind at their backs in the opening period to build up a 0-5 to 0-2 lead by the 12th minute, two from Clare senior Cathal McInerney.
Conor McGrath forced a superb save out of goalkeeper Bryan O’Loughlin but that allied to 12 wides ensured that Cratloe would only hold a 0-9 to 0-5 advantage by the break.
With the wind to come, Kilmaley lowered the deficit to two thanks to Sean O’Loughlin and O’Malley entering the new half, only to be rocked back on their heels when Cathal McInerney and David Collins combined to tee up Rian Considine for the only goal of the game at 1-11 to 0-09.
With the wides tally mounting at both ends of the field, Kilmaley did respond with the next three points through Cian Moloney, Mikey O’Neill and Sean O’Loughlin entering the final ten minutes.
However, Considine and McGrath would do enough to protect their three point cushion as the game drifted over the hour mark.
Bracken and O’Malley’s points did suggest that extra-time might be on the cards but Kilmaley failed to grab that elusive equalising score as a relieved Cratloe held on to progress to their fifth final in ten seasons.
Scorers for Cratloe: Rian Considine 1-4; Cathal McInerney, Sean Collins, Conor McGrath 0-2 each; Podge Collins, Billy Connors (’65), Shane Gleeson (f), David Collins 0-1 each
Scorers for Kilmaley: Mikey O’Malley 0-4; Cian Moloney (1f, 1’65), Sean O’Loughlin 0-3 each; Mikey O’Neill, Daire Keane 0-2 each; Tom O’Rourke, Eamonn Bracken 0-1 each
1. Gearoid Ryan
5. Shane O’Leary
2. Martin Óige Murphy
3. Michael Hawes
20. Shane Gleeson
9. Liam Markham
6. Diarmuid Ryan
4. Enda Boyce
14. Conor McGrath
11. Sean Collins
10. David Collins
15. Rian Considine
12. Billy Connors
13. Cathal McInerney
8. Podge Collins
27. Sean Chaplin for Boyce (63)
1. Bryan O’Loughlin
2. Eoin Enright
3. Colin McGuane
4. Bradley Higgins
5. Aidan McGuane
6. Conor Cleary
7. Kenneth Kennedy
8. Cathal Darcy
9. Sean Kennedy
10. Sean O’Loughlin
11. Mikey O’Malley
12. Tom O’Rourke
15. Daire Keane
14. Mikey O’Neill
13. Cian Moloney
19. Eamonn Bracken for O’Rourke (44)
21. Paudie McNamara for S. Kennedy (48)
20. Aidan Kennedy for Moloney (52)
17. John Clohessy for A. McGuane (59)
Referee: Rory McGann (Newmarket-on-Fergus)
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