*Liam Markham was very impressive for Cratloe. Photograph: Mark Hayes
Shane Gleeson scored the all-important winner of sixty minutes to send Cratloe into the last four at the expense of Clonlara who once again fell short when it mattered most.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Trailing for the majority of the contest, Cratloe scored the final four points of the contest in the last six minutes plus additional time to ensure they are the first name in the semi-finals of the 2019 Clare SHC.
Billy Connors got Cratloe off to a steady start with two points in as many minutes. Conor Bourke, a late addition to the Clonlara side swung the momentum in their favour, his effort firing off both posts before nestling in the net.
Dave Cuddy’s Clonlara although they fell behind for a three minute spell in the second quarter of the half, managed to dominate for the most part with Cathal ‘Tots’ O’Connell and Ian Galvin adding white flags to give them a two point advantage at half-time.
John Conlon hit his first score of the day on thirty five minutes. Less than thirty seconds later, he ended up in possession on the resulting puckout, his shot had such power that netminder Gearoid Ryan had no chance of getting a touch to it.
With a five point lead at their backs, Clonlara just had to keep the scoreboard ticking and limit the influence of their opponents’ key men. Cratloe responded with the next three points, immediately cancelling out Conlon’s green flag. The South East Clare men would hit three of the next four scores but crucially Mícheál O’Loughlin’s point on the fifty first minute would be their last.
Alan Neville’s Cratloe on the other hand showed character in abundance and added points through Conor McGrath, Cathal McInerney and Shane Gleeson to win out.
Far from Cratloe’s best outing, it was still enough to get over the line and progress to the last four. Liam Markham was outstanding at wing back for the winners with Conor McGrath as usual playing a key role.
They could have easily won and the subsequent narrative would subside but once again when the pressure was on, Clonlara did not complete the task at hand. Unquestionably, some of the most talented hurlers in the county are on their panel but year on year they are failing to get over the line when it matters most. Remedying such a problem can not be done overnight but the problems have been flagged on several occasions, coming up with a solution is urgently needed before many of their excellent players call it a day.
Scorers Cratloe: S Gleeson (0-07 6f), B Connors (0-03 2f), C McInerney (0-03), C McGrath (0-02), D Ryan (0-02), P Collins (0-01)
Scorers Clonlara: Tots (0-05 3f), J Conlon (1-02), C Bourke (1-01), M O’Loughlin (0-02), I Galvin (0-01).
Cratloe: Gearoid Ryan; Martin Oige Murphy, Michael Hawes, Enda Boyce, Damian Browne, Shane O’Leary, Liam Markham; Conor McGrath, Diarmuid Ryan; Shane Gleeson, Rian Considine, Sean Collins; Padraic Collins, Cathal McInerney, Billy Connors.
Subs: Sean Chaplin for Boyce (24) (Inj), Jack McInerney for S Collins (29)
Clonlara: Ryan Morris; Garrett Kennedy, Dylan McMahon; David Fitzgerald, Oisin O’Brien, Ger Powell; Cathal ‘Tots’ O’Connell, Kieran Galvin, Cormac O’Donovan, Colm Galvin, Mícheál O’Loughlin; Ian Galvin, John Conlon, Conor Bourke.
Subs: Nicky O’Connell for Kennedy (27) (Inj), Paraic O’Loughlin for O’Donovan (40), Seamus Downey for Fitzgerald (45), Aidan Moriarty for K Galvin (47)
Referee: Jarlath Donnellan (Wolfe Tones)