Clare SHC Final: Clonlara 1-9 Cratloe 3-5
Defending champions Clonlara were dethroned as goal-hungry Cratloe swept to the Clare Senior Hurling Championship title with a 3-5 to 1-9 win in today’s final at Cusack Park.
Succeeding in their first ever county SHC final, Cratloe have become the first side to lift the Canon Hamilton title along with the Clare Under-21 ‘A’ and intermediate football trophies.
Young forward Conor McGrath, who was part of Clare’s Munster Under-21 title-winning panel this year, scored a brilliant 2-1 for Cratloe.
Sean Chaplin, inspirational captain Barry Duggan, Sean Collins and Liam Markham also played significant roles for the victors who are managed by Mike Deegan, Mike O’Gorman and John Gleeson.
Clonlara nudged ahead in the opening quarter, with Clare U-21 star Darach Honan, the son of Clonlara manager Colm Honan, Donal Madden and Nicky O’Connell amongst the scorers.
They were 0-5 to 0-2 ahead when McGrath struck for his first goal and Honan's charges recovered well with corner forward Cillian Fennessy raising a green flag of his own just minutes later.
As the game opened up, McGrath caught the ball on the right wing, cut through the Clonlara defence on a powerful 25-metre burst and fired home a terrific second goal to send the Cratloe support into raptures.
A Damian Browne free for Cratloe and a score from play from Clonlara’s John Conlon brought an action-packed first half to a close, with the sides level at 2-3 to 1-6.
Free-taker Browne, so important in his side’s progression to the final, struggled from placed balls and Chaplin took over the free-taking duties in a nip-and-tuck second half.
The sides swapped early points through Cormac O’Donovan and McGrath before Chaplin sent a workmanlike Cratloe ahead. They struggled to turn their pressure into scores though and Madden squared it up again.
A number of misses followed for Clonlara - O’Connell and Madden being the guilty parties - but last year’s winners edged ahead when Tommy Lynch squeezed over a point.
With barely seconds left, Cratloe produced the final twist - wing forward Chaplin smacking home the clinching goal. From full-back Duggan through to man-of-the-match McGrath, Cratloe showed tremendous hunger, spirit and goal-scoring nous and that was enough to swung it for them in the end.