Cratloe’s adopted sons share a quiet word, a smile or two flashed, but refrain from engaging in the zealous celebrations of their team-mates.
It’s understandable. Lynch linked up with the panel only earlier this year, while Saturday was Bugler’s first afternoon to don the blue jersey in 2013. There is no doubting the pair’s commitment but it’s fair to say the victory registered greater with Podge Collins, Cathal McInerney and the aforementioned captain; Cratloe born and bred.
“It is a different type of a feeling,” surmised Lynch.
“If you were from your own club, it would be the lads you grew up with and the fellas you went to school with. Look it, I am playing with these lads with Clare for the last number of years. I know them all very well from my ties with Cratloe. It means as much to win a championship with them as it does with anyone else.
“Our first championship match this year was against Quilty and that was my first day togging out. I am married down this country and I was kind of forced in by Colm [Collins]. Unfortunately my own club had no team. We won a couple of junior A and junior B championships. I’d say not too many people in the country have a junior B, two junior As and a senior championship medal. It is great, really. Any day you win a county championship is very special. It is great to win a championship, no matter what club you are from.”
In what was a desperately poor, error-ridden encounter, both sides started tentatively enough, neither willing to throw down the gauntlet. Podge Collins and Brian Dillon exchanged opening efforts, but it was wasn’t until Liam Markham delivered two beauties on the hop that the sizeable gathering begun to get some return on the €15 admission fee.
Doonbeg, to be fair, were breaking even around the middle, but never threatened in front of goal unless talisman David Tubridy was the player in possession. The Clare forward levelled matters with two consecutive efforts, though it was far from a memorable afternoon for the championship’s top scorer as he kicked wide three first-half frees and was starved of possession when moved to the edge of the square.
Tied at 0-3 apiece, the winners made the crucial burst on the run in to the break. Cathal McInerney punished corner-back Cian Clancy for his foul on Podge Collins, before landing two more placed ball efforts in the subsequent action. Colm Collins’ squad led by double scores at the break and never looked back thereafter.
“We knew Doonbeg were really going to shore up in defence,” said Lynch. “On our mind was to keep possession and pull the trigger any time we got a chance. At half-time, we knew all we had to do was keep our heads. Thankfully, at the end of the day we came out on top.”
Tubridy narrowed the deficit to two (0-6 to 0-4) at the change of ends, that however, was as close as Doonbeg would come with McInerney, Martin Óg Murphy, Sean and Podge Collins floating over further points to seal a first Clare title for the Cratloe men.
Scorers for Cratloe: C McInerney (0-4fs), P Collins, L Markham (0-2 each), S Collins, M Óg Murphy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Doonbeg: D Tubridy (0-5, 0-3fs, 1 45), B Dillon, C Downes (0-1 each).
CRATLOE: P De Loughrey; S Chaplin, B Duggan, D Ryan; M Óg Murphy, M Hawes, E Boyce; F Lynch, C Duggan; L Markham, P Collins, S Collins; C McInerney, C Ryan, C McGrath.
Subs: P Chaplin for McGrath (58).
DOONBEG: E Tubridy; P Gallagher, C Whelan, C Clancy; P Ahern, B Dillon, J Blake; F O’Dea, C Dillon; R Good, D Tubridy, S O’Brien; C Downes, E Doyle, S Ryan.
Subs: J Whelan for Clancy (50), B Egan for Gallagher (54), P Dillon for Ryan (58).
Referee: Barry Kelly (Miltown).