*Colm Collins celebrates Cratloe getting an equalising score in Cusack Park. Photograph: Ruth Griffin.
VICTORIOUS CRATLOE boss Colm Collins has said they would have preferred to have played a replay rather than letting the Clare SFC semi-final be decided on a penalty shootout.
Cratloe advanced to the county final for the first time since 2020 when they ended Éire Óg’s reign as champions on Sunday in Cusack Park.
It finished 1-17 apiece after eighty minutes of football meaning penalties were required. In this shootout, Cathal McInerney, Conal O’Hanlon, Enda Boyce and Podge Collins all hit the target to see them prevail 4-2.
Speaking to The Clare Echo, Colm Collins voiced his dissatisfaction with the use of penalties to decide a winner. “I don’t want them at all, I hate penalties, I think it is a bad thing from another code and whatever about adults, I think it is terrible for kids that the stigma of a young kid missing a penalty that should never happen. In this case, this game could have been played next weekend, I’m sure myself and Paul (Madden Éire Óg manager) would have loved to be playing here next Sunday”.
That both sides are out of the hurling championship meant the option to play a replay next weekend at a venue outside of Cusack Park would have been a potential runner but all fixtures are compiled as a masterplan months before a ball is kicked or a sliotar pucked when the teams remaining in the business end of either championship are unknown.
To be solely preparing on football rather than alternate weeks with hurling commitments has been “fantastic,” Collins said. “It’s an amazing way to prepare, we’ve always had one week on and one week off, we thanked our stars because the players are in good shape but this time we’ve been able to give to football has been fantastic and it has shown, they played some really good stuff and hopefully we can go one better the next time”.
Members of the Cratloe side would point to Sunday’s win over Éire Óg as one of their greatest ever, this despite winning two senior football championships in 2013 and 2014 plus hurling equivalents in 2009 and 2014.
Reflecting on an absorbing afternoon of football, Colm stated, “Dramatic is an understatement, it was unreal from start to finish, drama at full-time, in extra-time and then it went down to the last penalty, it was heart in the mouth stuff”.
Character was to the fore for the South Clare side who kept clawing back at everything Éire Óg threw at them. They went down to fourteen men in either half, first when Tommy Rooney picked up a black card and then a red card in the second half while they forced extra time with a Cathal McInerney converted free and penalties when Liam Markham split the posts.
Colm expressed his pride with their showing and outlined the difficulty in curbing the many threats at Éire Óg’s disposal. “One thing you’ve to be fantastically proud of is the display of the lads today, they get it everything, they never died, we said before we went out that whatever happened and whatever the result was we wouldn’t be outworked, we did that and we gave it everything, it was a massive display, you’d have to be so proud of the lads and the way they got the result against a brilliant Éire Óg team, there is ten of those lads that have served Clare with aplomb, they’ve distinguished themselves with Clare and every one of them have put their shoulder to the wheel and have been fantastic players with Clare. We have to remember that it is only a semi-final and there was no cup handed out, we’ve a big task ahead of us to play St Breckan’s in the final”.
Extra belief was gained with the manner in which St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield forced extra time against the county champions in the quarter-final. “There was an aura about Éire Óg that they were unbeatable, Donagh and Bobby (Vaughan and Kelly, St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield manager and coach) blew that out of the water, they set up tactically very well, they asked the questions and were desperately unlucky not to bring it to penalties, that did give people a lift. I studied their game and we tried to negate where they are strongest but it is very hard because in most clubs you have one or two players but with Éire Óg you have to negate about seven, they’re that good. We’re delighted to have won the game but it is only a stepping stone”.
In the final, Cratloe will meet St Breckan’s, it pits Colm against Declan O’Keeffe who served as goalkeeper coach during his time as Clare manager. “A great guy, a fantastic coach and he has done a tremendous job with St Breckan’s, a fantastic guy, I know they will be well prepared and well coached, they have a fine young team, I’m familiar with a lot of their players. This is just a semi-final, it’s a bit early to be bursting the balloon but that is the fact of it”.