Kilmurry Ibrickane were crowned Clare Senior Football Champions for the first time in four years when they had thirteen points to spare over Cratloe in replay of the Clare SFC final.
Páraic McMahon reports from Cusack Park
Kilmurry Ibrickane 2-13
Venue: Cusack Park
Aidan ‘Horse’ Moloney has become the first Kilmurry Ibrickane man to captain and manage his club to success in the Clare SFC after they overcame an underwhelming Cratloe side that registered just two points from play during the course of the game.
Two weeks on from the drawn decider in which both teams played below their optimum, The Bricks upped their game and Cratloe although they didn’t make as many handling mistakes failed to play to their ability which will be the biggest regret for them as they reflect on where this went wrong.
Played in front of a crowd of 3,722 Kilmurry Ibrickane’s greater workrate off the ball proved decisive, they put their opponents under immense pressure and each turnover lifted the crowd. They were first on the scoresheet with Keelan Sexton kicking over the opening score on the seventh minute, Enda Coughlan rose highest to claim the resulting kickout and passed to an on-rushing Michael Hogan who doubled their lead.
Cathal McInerney got Cratloe out of the traps on the eleventh minute with a free that was won by David Collins but his effort was cancelled out by a Sexton free. A well worked Cratloe move was finished off with wing-back Martin Oige Murphy pointing to reduce the gap to the minimum.
Peter O’Dwyer’s inclusion from the start at the edge of the square caused some problems as he held up possession well over the hour, he registered on the score on the twenty first minute. Cathal McInerney added two frees which were sandwiched between points from Shane Hickey and Ian McInerney to leave two points between the sides at the interval.
Pierce DeLoughrey was called upon early in the second half to deny Mark McCarthy a green flag. DeLoughrey’s counterpart Ian McInerney converted a placed ball on the thirty sixth minute.
Two minutes later Martin McMahon turned the contest on its head, he received a pass from Keelan Sexton with space right in front of goal and the Clare corner-back finished excellently to give DeLoughrey no chance in getting a hand to the shot. From here the Bricks never looked to be in doubt.
Mark McCarthy and Keelan Sexton increased the gap before Cathal McInerney kicked the two time champions’ first score of the half on the forty eight minute. Shane Hickey and Michael O’Dwyer raised further white flags while McInerney added an excellent score from play.
Once more McCarthy and Sexton pointed as the game entered the final five minutes. The South Clare side were reduced to fourteen men when Conor Cooney picked up a second yellow card. Substitute Johnny Daly almost got in on the scoring stakes but he was dragged down and a penalty was duly awarded. Sexton made no mistake and finished off superbly to seal the win for the Bricks.
Over the course of the game fifty three frees were awarded almost one per minute of the game. It resulted in a stop start affair that wasn’t a fantastic spectacle, though Kilmurry Ibrickane followers won’t mind as the main focus for them was to win which they did.
Colm Collins’ side really felt the loss of Conor McGrath on this occasion, he adds a flair to any team he plays with and there was certainly a spark missing for them. They lost Antóin McFadden inside the first quarter which was a big blow. Their display will hurt as much as the result but they will come back fighting in 2017 however to win back the Jack Daly they need to strengthen their panel. Martin Oige Murphy and Cathal McInerney did best for Cratloe.
After going four years without winning the Clare SFC Kilmurry Ibrickane were determined not to let this chance slip which they nearly did the first day. In hindsight the draw benefited them as they learned the most, their defence limited Cratloe to six points two from play which is a fantastic achievement, they played with five forwards and all of them scored from play.
This year The Bricks turned a corner, players such as Declan Callinan and Mark Kileeen returned to the cause and everyone involved bought into the setup. There was unity and camaraderie but most importantly a bond that wasn’t going to be broken. Their bench was stronger than their counterparts while the management team in place is one of the strongest if not the strongest at club level in Clare. Keelan Sexton capped off a fine personal year by collecting the top scorer award, he was to the fore along with Darren Hickey, Enda Coughlan, Michael Hogan, Martin McMahon and Peter O’Dwyer.
Next weekend they host Dr Crokes in Quilty which is a repeat of the 2012 Munster quarter-final, a tie in which the Kerry club prevailed by the smallest of margins.
Kilmurry Ibrickane: Ian McInerney; Darren Hickey, Martin McMahon (1-00), Mark Killeen; Darragh Sexton, Enda Coughlan, Ciaran Morrissey, Declan Callinan; Mark McCarthy (0-02), Keith King; Michael Hogan (0-01), Shane Hickey (0-02), Michael O’Dwyer (0-01); Peter O’Dwyer (0-01), Keelan Sexton (1-04 1’Pen, 1f). Subs: Noel Downes for Callinan (40), Niall Hickey for Downes (47) (Inj), Evan Talty for Morrissey (55), Thomas O’Connor for McCarthy (57), Johnny Daly for M O’Dwyer (61).
Cratloe: Pierce DeLoughrey; Sean Chaplin, Barry Duggan, Liam Markham; Martin Oige Murphy (0-01), Michael Hawes, Enda Boyce; Conor Ryan, John Galvin; Shane Gleeson, Sean Collins, Antóin McFadden; Cathal McInerney (0-05 4f), Podge Collins, David Collins. Subs: Conor Cooney for McFadden (12) (Inj), Stephen McHugh for Gleeson (40).
Referee: Pat Cosgrave (Corofin)
All photos by Martin Connolly