It was far from a convincing Cratloe performance but it was enough to get over Éire Óg who will be kicking themselves such was the amount of missed chances they had.
Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park
Éire Óg 1-12
Venue: Cusack Park
Over the hour Éire Óg hit a total of fourteen wides, half of those came in the final fifteen minutes when the game was there for the taking. They can have no complaints with the result as their poor shooting cost them a place in the last four of the Clare SHC.
An early bust-up saw County teammates Podge Collins and David Reidy square off, both were given yellow cards by Damien Fox. The general feeling was that this exchange inside the opening five minutes would set the tone for a fiery encounter but it failed to live up to the expectation and overall was a stop start affair that lacked fluency.
Cratloe were the superior team in the first half with Conor McGrath, Conor Ryan, David Collins, Cathal McInerney, Shane Gleeson and Damien Browne all registering on the scoreboard. In stark contrast Éire Óg failed to score from play for a full thirty minutes as David Reidy kept their flag flying with five points from frees.
Aaron Fitzgerald came to Éire Óg’s rescue at the beginning of the second half. Conor McGrath clashed with netminder Kevin Brennan and the sliotar seemed to be rolling over the line only for full-back Fitzgerald to get to the ball in the nick of time as his vital clearance from the line denied Cratloe a goal. McGrath added a point from a free with his next effort to increase their advantage.
Shane O’Donnell did what he does his best at the other end as he weaved past the Cratloe defence before batting the ball past Gearoid Ryan for the first and only goal of the game. Conor O’Halloran picked out the danger man with a superb pass to bring the Townies back to life and put one point between them.
McGrath added another free but his effort was sandwiched between two Danny Russell points. O’Donnell put Éire Óg in front for a brief spell but white flags from McGrath and Cathal McInerney had the sides back on level terms with forty one minutes played.
Éire Óg started to control matters with David Reidy Davy O’Halloran and O’Donnell all pointing to put them two points ahead. From here they began to push the self-destruct button as glorious chances presented themselves but the Townies failed to execute them.
For the final ten minutes Cratloe outscored Éire Óg 6-1 to seal their place in the last four of the Clare SHC and keep their hopes of a double alive.
In their last two outings Cratloe have been far from their usual selves but they’re still doing just enough to get over the line. They were very fortunate to get over the line today and let Éire Óg back into the game into the second half when they should have pushing clear. Their touch and decision making was below the standard they have set in previous campaigns.
Once more all six of their forwards scored while their six backs only conceded 1-04 from play. Joe McGrath’s side have yet to reach their peak but out of the four sides remaining in the hunt for the Canon they have the most improving to do, making the required progression is the biggest task for the 2014 champions. Conor McGrath with 0-09 was their main man while Conor Earley and Shane O’Leary also stood out.
No team can expect to hit fourteen wides, fail to score from play in thirty minutes and still come out on top, which was the case with the Townies. Their full-forward line comprised of Shane O’Donnell, Danny Russell and Davy O’Halloran, a dangerous trio yet they were starved of possession in the first half and nothing was done to try get a more regular supply of ball into them.
In sixty minutes Gerry O’Connor’s men scored 1-04 from play which is rarely going to win any game. Yet when all is said and done, they could have easily won this game and if it wasn’t for their meltdown in the final ten minutes that saw them score one point and hit four wides, two of them clear cut goal chances they could preparing for a last four outing. In recent seasons Éire Óg have shown that they are good enough to be making the quarter-finals but they are seeming to stay at this level, more needs to be done to ensure they reach their potential and the latter stages of the championship. Aaron Fitzgerald, Shane O’Donnell, Conor O’Halloran and David McNamara did well for the Ennis men.
Cratloe: Gearoid Ryan; Shane O’Leary, Michael Hawes, Oige Murphy; Conor Earley, Conor Ryan (0-01), Sean Chaplin; Liam Markham (0-01), Sean Collins (0-01); Damian Browne (0-01), Podge Collins (0-01), Shane Gleeson (0-01); Cathal McInerney (0-02), Conor McGrath (0-09 6f), David Collins (0-01). Subs: Enda Boyce for Gleeson (41), Daithí Collins for D Collins (63).
Éire Óg: Kevin Brennan; Liam Corry, Aaron Fitzgerald, Conor O’Halloran; David McNamara, Kevin Moynihan, Ciaran Russell; David Reidy (0-07 7f), Aidan McGrath; Bryan Dolan, Ronan Keane, Barry Nugent; Shane O’Donnell (1-02), Danny Russell (0-02 1f), Davy O’Halloran (0-01). Subs: Marc O’Donnell for Moynihan (24), David Durack for Dolan (41), Niall McMahon for Corry (52), Éinne O’Connor for Nugent (56).
Referee: Damien Fox (Clooney/Quin)