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*Cratloe’s Shane Neville. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Cratloe have started their 2021 Clare SFC bid with a six point victory against Cooraclare.

Cratloe 1-13
Cooraclare 0-10
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Minus the services of Podge Collins and Cathal McInerney, it didn’t stop Cratloe from recording an opening round success to go top of a difficult Group 1 that also includes reigning champions Kilmurry Ibrickane and 2019 winners St Josephs Miltown plus Ennistymon.

A second quarter in which they outscored Cooraclare 1-05 0-01 was critical to Cratloe’s success with Diarmuid Ryan volleying to the net from an acute pass from David Collins.

Strengthened by the return of former Clare midfielder Sean O’Donoghue to their lineup, the Chicago man’s aerial ability remains as strong as does his sharpness. His presence was badly needed for Cooraclare who were without the injured pair of Jack Morrissey and Sean Browne.

Jack McInerney took over the freetaking duties in the absence of his older brother Cathal and was the first to register on the scoreboard. Cooraclare retreated at the first water break a point ahead thanks to scores from Thomas Donnellan, Ciaran O’Donoghue and John Lillis.

That was as good as it got for the 2015 finalists as Cratloe upped the ante in the second quarter with points coming via Ryan, Enda Boyce and McInerney with Ryan also chipping in with the vital goal to see them 1-06 0-04 in front at the interval.

Cooraclare fired the first two points of the second half but Cratloe replied with three of the next five scores. Cratloe tacked on four points in the final quarter and limited their opponents to just two. Efforts to rattle the net came to no avail for Michael Garry’s side with Pierce DeLoughrey pulling off an excellent save to deny Pearse Lillis bearing down on goal, the threat of O’Donoghue at full-forward and Micheál Garry’s move to attack also asked questions of Cratloe but they duly stood up to the task.

A clash with St Josephs Miltown awaits Cratloe next weekend. This will be a more difficult assignment especially if both Collins and McInerney remain sidelined. Smart play was evident in abundance to their opening round victory with Rian Considine, Sean Collins and Diarmuid Ryan doing well for Colm Collins’ side.

Once positioned with Sean O’Donoghue and Micheál Garry in attack, the danger of Cooraclare increases, however this comes with the caveat that it also weakens their defence and this is an issue to be grappled with by their management over the next four weeks. A win in round two is very important if the Milesians are to have aspirations of advancing past the group stages. O’Donoghue, Brian McNamara and Ciaran O’Donoghue impressed for the Sky Blues.

Scorers Cratloe: J McInerney (0-05 5f), D Ryan (1-01), S Neville (0-02), S Collins (0-02), E Boyce (0-01 1f), L Markham (0-01), D Collins (0-01).

Scorers Cooraclare: C O’Donoghue (0-04 2f), S O’Donoghue (0-03), T Donnellan (0-01), J Lillis (0-01), B McNamara (0-01).

1: Pierce DeLoughrey

6: Liam Markham
3: Kevin Harnett
4: Sean Chaplin

5: Martin Oige Murphy
8: Michael Brennan
7: Enda Boyce

9: Diarmuid Ryan
19: Shane Gleeson

12: Billy Sheehan
11: Sean Collins
10: Shane Neville

13: Jack McInerney
14: Rian Considine
15: Conor McGrath

17: Michael Hawes for Gleeson (46)
18: Sean Hynan for Sheehan (51)
4: Sean Chaplin for Boyce (51)

1: Mark Lillis

5: Thomas Donnellan
2: Niall Kelly
7: Robert Ryan

12: Ronan Donnellan
17: Micheál Garry
6: Killian Burke

20: Sean O’Donoghue
18: Thomas Downes
8: Pearse Lillis

13: Pauric O’Donoghue
10: Brian McNamara
9: Tadhg Lillis

14: Ciaran O’Donoghue
19: John Lillis

11: Colin McNamara for P O’Donoghue (26)
3: Conor Marrinan for T Lillis (43)
4: Fergal Donnellan for R Donnellan (47)
21: Eoin O’Driscoll for J Lillis (51).

Referee: Fearghal Gray (Feakle)

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