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A Podge Collins inspired Cratloe advanced to their first Clare SFC final since 2016 narrowly defeating an impressive St Breckans side.

Cratloe 2-16
St Breckans 1-15
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Leading for the majority of the tie, St Breckans fell behind on fifty four minutes following a wonder strike from Podge Collins, it was the first time in the second half where Cratloe went ahead and from here they never looked back.

Prior to this, the general feeling in Cusack Park was that St Breckans would deservedly be heading to their first senior final since 1996. However, Cratloe showed their class by refusing to lie down and kept plugging away at the scoreboard, the substitutes made also aided in curtailing the influence of key danger man in the final stages.

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Collins opened the scoring on two minutes before Breckans replied through Jamie Stack and Aiden Davidson, both of whom demonstrated fantastic footwork before executing their shot. Cratloe replied with three points in succession before a Stack double had the sides on level terms once again.

Goalkeeper Pierce DeLoughrey produced an excellent save to keep an effort from Davidson out of the net on twelve minutes. Jack Sheedy added a fine point for the North Clare men sandwiched between white flags from Shane Neville and Conal O’Hanlon, the latter of which resulted from a visionary Liam Markham pass.

Advantage swung firmly in St Breckans’ favour on twenty minutes when a superb Colm O’Brien run set up danger man Joe McGann who expertly weaved through the Cratloe defence before tapping past DeLoughrey for the first goal of the game. They followed this with two Davidson scores before Cathal McInerney did likewise at the other end but a white flag from Dale Masteson would see Breckans hold a justified 1-08 0-08 half-time lead.

For their first two attacks on the restart, St Breckans were denied by the upright as efforts from Colm O’Brien and Jamie Stack came agonisingly close. Cratloe’s opening attack of the half resulted in a penalty which Cathal McInerney made no mistake in tucking past Tristan O’Callaghan even though the LIT student got his finger tips to the shot.

Donie Garrihy’s charges responded as strong as they could to the concession of the goal with three points in as many minutes to regain a three point advantage. Frees from McInerney and Conal O’Hanlon reduced the deficit while a Jamie Stack point left just the minimum between the sides.

Podge Collins was through a goal but an immaculately timed tackle from Jack Sheedy snuffed any danger. Collins made no mistake with his next attack a minute later firing the ball to the top right corner of O’Callaghan’s goal to put Cratloe in the lead.

Matters got worse for Breckans when Jack Sheedy picked up a second yellow card and they were down to fourteen men. Points from McInerney and Collins pushed the gap to four points as Colm Collins’ men realised that they were now the outfit in the driving seat. Both sides fired three points each but it would not change the outcome as Cratloe once again recorded a character building victory when the odds looked against them.

Football followers that watched St Breckans claim the intermediate championship last year and their subsequent provincial run would have been aware of their pedigree and ability. It wasn’t just by reaching the last four that they made more people aware of this but rather how they played and the ability of some of their men. Their recycling of the ball and movement at pace is very difficult to stop once they hit their stride, they dominated Cratloe for large parts but crucially fell behind at the worst possible time.

They must now build on this campaign but they will certainly be viewed as title contenders in 2021. Colm O’Brien, Jamie Stack, Joe McGann, Conor Burke and Jack Sheedy impressed for the men from Doolin and Lisdoonvarna.

Experience in a side is all well and good but it is how you use it that counts. Look no further than Cratloe for an example on how to utilise it. By all means, this game was not going the way they wanted but they kept cool heads having been in difficult scenarios on many days before. When the need was greatest, players that had up till then a quite showing became more prominent, particularly Conor McGrath.

They last contested a SFC final in 2016, their opponents then will be the same in two weeks time. Cratloe having dethroned St Josephs Miltown and now with a victory of this nature in their locker will find themselves in a very positive place. Colm Collins will be well aware that they have to up their game when they face a seasoned Kilmurry Ibrickane. Podge Collins was outstanding for the winners with Cathal McInerney, Pierce DeLoughrey and Oige Murphy all making valuable contributions to the win.

Scorers Cratloe: Cathal McInerney (1-09 6f 1’Pen), Podge Collins (1-03), Conal O’Hanlon (0-02 1f), Shane Neville (0-01), Conor McGrath (0-01).

Scorers St Breckans: Jamie Stack (0-07 4f), Aiden Davidson (0-04 3f), Joe McGann (1-01), Jack Sheedy (0-01), Dale Masterson (0-01), Colm O’Brien (0-01).

1: Pierce DeLoughrey

4: David Collins
3: Michael Brennan
17: Enda Boyce

7: Liam Markham
6: Sean Collins
5: Martin ‘Oige’ Murphy

9: Diarmuid Ryan
10: Shane Gleeson

22: Shane Neville
11: Podge Collins
12: Conal O’Hanlon

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

2: Sean Chaplin for Boyce (41)
8: Billy Sheehan for Gleeson (47)
18: Damien Browne for Considine (64)

St Breckans:
1: Tristan O’Callaghan

2: Conor Burke
17: Raphael Considine
6: Jack Sheedy

12: Colm O’Brien
5: Alan Sweeney
7: Rowan Danaher

8: Liam Tierney
9: Maccon Byrne

10: Dale Masterson
14: Joe McGann
11: Padraig Kelly

13: Jamie Stack
26: Cathal Guerin
15: Aiden Davidson

25: Eoin Guerin for C Guerin (42)
3: Evan Barrett for Danaher (60).

Referee: Chris Maguire (Wolfe Tones)

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