Clare SHC: Cratloe and Sixmilebridge book semi-final spots 

The pair have contested 12 county finals since 2009, so the fact that both booked their places in the last four of the Clare SHC came as no surprise
Clare SHC: Cratloe and Sixmilebridge book semi-final spots 

SHARPSHOOTER: Podge Collins was on the scoresheet for Cratloe. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Between them, the neighbours of Cratloe and Sixmilebridge have contested 12 county finals since 2009, so the fact that both booked their places in the last four of the Clare SHC came as no surprise on Saturday as the knockout stages of the Banner’s blue riband began.

And, they did so with relative ease as the pedigree that has made them so formidable and consistent over the past decade and more came to the surface as they eased past the challenges of Newmarket-on-Fergus and Wolfe Tones respectively.

It was Cratloe who opened the quarter-final double-header in Cusack Park with a dominant seven-point win, which was made all the more impressive by the manner in which they weathered a great second-half comeback from a Newmarket side that looked dead and buried at half-time.

With matters resting at 0-14 to 0-5 at the interval, it looked as if Cratloe would make short work of their listless opponents, as a five-point haul from Rian Considine, while Podge Collins, Conor McGrath and Cathal McInerney were also to the fore with good scores as they moved nine clear.

However, with less than ten minutes remaining it was back to a two-point game as a 52nd-minute goal from Peter Power ignited the Blues’ challenge and looked like bringing what had developed into an end-to-end contest right to the wire.

The force was with Newmarket, with the experience provided by Colin Ryan and Eoin Hayes playing a crucial part in the comeback, only for Cratloe to burst to life once more when it mattered most to kill the contest with goals either side of the 60th-minute from the man-of-the-match Rian Considine, who hit 1-7, and Sean Gallagher to move ten clear.

It was devastating as it was clinical, albeit Colin Ryan had a consolation goal from a late free to leave matters at 2-23 to 2-16 at the end.

Had Sixmilebridge been clinical they would have had much more than 13 points to spare against Wolfe Tone, such was their sustained dominance over the course of a one-sided hour as they cantered to a 3-22 to 0-18 victory.

In between all the scores they managed to rack up 14 wides, but it mattered little as the only thing they really ceded to the outclassed Shannon side was the opening score of the game to former county star Aaron Cunningham.

From there, their performance was another de force as another former county star in Jamie Shanahan led the way with a haul of 0-13, while Shane Golden, Séadna Morey and David Kennedy, who only came into the side for the injured Cathal Malone before the start, also caught the eye for the championship favorites.

It was Kennedy’s 30th-minute goal that put real daylight between the sides at the break as the ‘Bridge eased into a 1-13 to 0-7 lead, while Shane Golden’s strike two minutes after the resumption killed the contest.

As the 'Bridge wides mounted, Wolfe Tones battled away, but the gulf in class was showcased once more with Seadna Morey’s bullet to the net on 59 minutes as the game wound down to its inevitable conclusion.

Meanwhile, at the same time as the ‘Bridge were laying down another marker for all-comers, down the road in Clarecastle they were breathing a sigh of relief as the 12 times champions secured their senior status for 2023 with a 0-28 to 1-21 win over Whitegate in Tulla.

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