AIB MUNSTER CLUB SHC FINAL:
Cratloe (Clare) v Kilmallock (Limerick)
Cratloe manager Joe McGrath says games like this weekend’s Munster club hurling final against Kilmallock are both a privilege and an opportunity.
McGrath pointed to manager and Clare native Ger ‘Sparrow’ O’Loughlin as a major asset to the Limerick champions.
“We haven’t crossed swords with Kilmallock in challenges or anything, we know they have a great tradition in the Munster club and obviously we know Sparrow on the sideline. “He’s won five championships in three different counties in the last few years, so clearly they have tradition and experience.
“That said, we were up against the same with Thurles and did the business — we look after our own end of things and try to get a performance out of the lads on the day. If that’s good enough, it’s good enough, and if not we’ll dust ourselves down and go again another time.”
McGrath says “the ante goes up” every time the Clare champions take the field.
“In the last four years, our objective was to get to the latter stages of the championship. That was the main thing, we’d have settled for two championships in five years.
“I won’t say the Ballygunner game was bonus territory but there was something different about having a championship game outside our own county, and to win it in those circumstances was fantastic.
“Beating Thurles was a huge achievement the last day too, and even though a Munster final was never on the agenda, we’ll give that a good shot too.
“Every day we go out the ante goes up, you’re playing the champions of other counties. For our lads to be on the same field as strong traditional clubs like Ballygunner and Thurles is a privilege and a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity, and we face the same task against Kilmallock.”
McGrath added: “After the Thurles game I said I’d love to be able to tell everybody I knew we’d win before the ball was thrown in, but that certainly wasn’t the case. We prepared as best we could and hoped things would work out well, and so far they have.
“Obviously this is new territory to a lot of our lads, but so far we’re just enjoying the ride.”
Cratloe departed the football championship last weekend, defeated by The Nire, but they still have momentum, McGrath feels.
“At the moment we’re on a roll, and inevitably the bubble will burst, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. We’ll enjoy it, we’ve had a couple of injury niggles ahead of this weekend but we can’t complain, really, we got through the whole summer without picking up injuries.
“We’ve missed Ógie Murphy for the last four or five weeks, he’s a significant loss and won’t be back in the near future.
“We lost Gearóid Considine, our full-forward, with a hamstring injury and it’s unlikely he’ll make it back in time for the final, but if we only lose two, we won’t be too bad.”
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