*Podge Collins. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Cratloe’s perfect senior championship start was extended to six matches after edging out Lissycasey to clinch Group 2 in Cusack Park, Ennis on Saturday afternoon.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Following a hurling group decider victory over champions Ballyea seven days previously, two thirds of that side followed suit for Cratloe’s footballers after seeing control in the second period.
Level on five occasions by the turn of the final quarter, Colm Collins’ side kicked four of the last six points to see off fellow club-mate John Ryan.
In what was a really open end-to-end contest that befitted the freedom of both sides already qualified for the quarter-finals, Cratloe, led by the omnipresent Podge Collins held the whip hand for the majority.
Crucially, their superior spread of threats was emphasised by the fact that five points of their total stemmed from defenders as Liam Markham (2), David Collins, Shane Neville and Sean Collins all got in on the scoring action.
On the flip side, Lissycasey created five glorious goal opportunities but only took one as Cratloe goalkeeper Padraigh Chaplin repeatedly frustrated Shane Griffin in particular.
Cratloe corner-backs David Collins and Liam Markham bookended a positive start that saw them take a 0-4 to 0-1 lead by the 13th minute.
With Shane Griffin twice denied by Chaplin, Lissycasey did get a large dollop of fortune in the 22nd minute when Conor Finnucane cleverly anticipated a Cratloe restart and immediately played in Aaron Griffin to find the top right corner of the net at 1-4 to 0-5. However, that advantage would only last three minutes as Cratloe surpassed Lissycasey’s unlikely goal with one of their own when Podge Collins’ shot for a point dipped viciously into the top right corner at 1-5 to 1-5.
The sides would trade points twice more by the break while Lissycasey also reeled in a Cathal McInerney-inspired burst for Cratloe by the two-thirds mark but it would be the last time they were on parity as Cratloe utilised all their experience to see out the contest.
Points from McInerney, Sean Collins, Liam Markham and Conal O’Hanlon were only solaced by similar efforts through Shane and Aaron Griffin as Cratloe protected their three match winning streak to become a seeded side for the quarter-finals.
Lissycasey, who had a last gasp Conor Finnucane 14 metre free saved on the line, will also be a match for anyone but will need to gain a clinical edge in front of the posts in order to reach a third successive semi-final.
Scorers for Cratloe: Cathal McInerney (0-6, 4f); Podge Collins (1-2); Liam Markham (0-2); David Collins, Jack McInerney, Shane Neville, Sean Collins, Conal O’Hanlon (0-1 each)
Scorers for Lissycasey: Conor Finnucane (0-5, 4f); Aaron Griffin (1-2); Connor Meaney, Enda Finnucane (2f) (0-2 each); Oisin Hanrahan, Shane Griffin (0-1 each)
1: Padraigh Chaplin
2: David Collins
3: Kevin Harnett
4: Liam Markham
5: Sean Collins
6: Mike Brennan
7: Shane Neville
8: Diarmuid Ryan
9: Conal O’Hanlon
10: Shane Gleeson
11: Cathal McInerney
12: Tommy Rooney
15: Rian Considine
14: Podge Collins
13: Jack McInerney
33: Conor Cooney for Rooney (58)
28: Mikey Hawes for J. McInerney (61)
1: Killian Normoyle
2: Cyril Sheehan
4: Ryan Griffin
17: Martin Moran
5: Oisin Hanrahan
6: Seamus Collins
7: Niall Kelly
3: Matt O’Shea
8: Enda Finnucane
10: Luke Griffin
11: Aaron Griffin
19: Cathal Doohan
15: Connor Meaney
14: Conor Finnucane
13: Shane Griffin
31: Cian Meaney for Doohan (33, inj)
Referee: Niall Quinn (St Joseph’s Miltown)