Newmarket-on-Fergus 3-10 Cratloe 0-09
It’s taken 31 years since their last win but Newmarket-on-Fergus are once again the kingpins in Clare hurling, victors over 2009 champions Cratloe and thus extending their record at the top of the roll of honour to 23 titles.
"This is for every player who has worn this jersey for the last 31 years," said Newmarket captain Enda Barrett (who had played a real captain’s role with a storming display at centre-back) in accepting the Canon Hamilton Cup.
It was a sentiment echoed by man-of-the-match Colin Ryan, who finished with 1-8 to his credit. "This is a day we’ve been waiting for and it has finally come," he said; "All the hurt of the last 31 years is finally ended.
As the scoreline would suggest it was a victory well earned by Newmarket, though belying that same scoreline is the fact that it wasn’t easily earned. Goals were the difference, the first of the three conceded by Cratloe inside the first minute but setting the tone for the rest of the game.
It came off a massive free by long-striking full-back James McInerney (another of Newmarket’s outstanding performers on the day), corner-forward Shane O’Brien jnr. pouncing on a breaking ball to give Seán Hayes no chance in the Cratloe goal.
Cratloe managed to battle back from that early blow, were two points behind after 17 minutes courtesy of points from Seán Collins and Conor McGrath (2), but in the 21st minute came the second body-blow, young O’Brien again the finisher from close range. That score made it 2-3 to 0-3 and when Cratloe lost their captain Barry Duggan to injury a couple of minutes later, it left them with a mountain to climb.
"Obviously Barry was a loss," said Cratloe manager Joe McGrath; "He’s a leader on our team and losing him before half-time wasn’t good news for us, but even before that we were in a bit of trouble."
Those two goals remained the difference at the break, 2-6 to 0-6, and Cratloe would now have the wind at their backs. Conditions then began to deteriorate, however, very heavy rain on top of the bitter cold, and scoring, even for a team with a plethora of senior county panellists, was now going to be at a premium. So it proved. With James McInerney and Enda Barrett rock solid down the middle, the outstanding Eoin O’Brien and Seán O’Connor in control in the corners, Niall O’Connor and Alan Barrett winning their individual battles on the wing, Newmarket simply shut up shop in that second half.
Three points was all that high-powered Cratloe attack could manage in the second half, the first of those not coming until the 47th minute, Seán Collins with the finish. It wasn’t just the Newmarket back six excelling in denying Cratloe, however, nor even keeper Darren Duggan who made a brilliant save in the 54th minute to deny the same Seán Collins; the attack also played their part, said captain Enda.
"The forwards played like real warriors, they defended, worked so hard to close Cratloe down when they had the ball. The defence started there, up front, and it worked its way all the way to the back. It was a great team performance."
Newmarket weren’t finding it easy to come by scores either in that second period, let it be said, managed just 1-4 and all of that came from Colin Ryan, his cracking individual goal in the 59th minute really putting the cap on an impressive display, both individual and team.
An emphatic win then for Newmarket-on-Fergus who now go on to meet De La Salle of Waterford in the Munster club championship.
Scorers for Newmarket: C Ryan 1-8 (7f); S O’Brien jnr. 2-0; D Barrett 0-2.
Scorers for Cratloe: C McGrath 0-5 (4f); S Collins 0-2; D Browne, L Markham (f), 0-1 each.
Newmarket-On -Fergus subs: J Liddy (Kilmartin 44); R Goode (Hayes 58); N Enright (D Barrett inj. 60).
Cratloe subs: D Browne (Duggan inj. 23); A Browne (D Ryan 30); S O’Leary (G Ryan 39); S Gleeson (Chaplin 45).
Referee: A Heagney (Corofin).