Sixmilebridge 0-21 Cratloe 0-15
Sixmilebridge were crowned Clare senior hurling champions for the 14th time at Cusack Park on Sunday following a six-point victory over near neighbours and fierce rivals Cratloe.
Over the hour, the Bridge were the better outfit and firmly deserved their win against a disappointing Cratloe team who misfired on the day.
The game began in a whirlwind fashion and Cratloe’s Conor McGrath opened the scoring when he made no mistake from the left wing in the third minute.
Brian Corry got the Bridge off the mark in the fourth minute, before Cratloe opened up a four-point lead by the ninth with Shane Gleeson (two), Rian Considine and Enda Boyce accounting for those scores.
By the midpoint of the half, Sixmilebridge trailed by 0-7 to 0-5 but they managed to draw level three minutes later when Cathal Malone landed a fine long-range point.
Alex Morey fired over a free from the left sideline to give his side the lead – one that was never subsequently lost. Cratloe's McGrath did bear down on goal just before the break but his shot was expertly saved by goalkeeper Derek Fahy. At half-time the Davy Fitzgerald-coached side led by 0-11 to 0-9.
Cratloe did get the first two scores of the second half through pointed frees by Gleeson to level matters. But a pair of points from sub Conor Deasy and defender Barry Fitzpatrick proved inspirational for the winners.
Cratloe had to call ashore Conor McGrath in the 51st minute due to an injury picked up in the opening half and his absence alone diluted Cratloe’s potency.
They did , have a great chance of hauling themselves back into contention with seven minutes remaining after Podge Collins ripped through the Bridge defence and off-loaded to Diarmuid Ryan. But the big teenager's bullet of a shot was just off target and sailed inches wide.
It was to be the last throw of the dice for a club who had ambitions of repeating a unique feat achieved in 2014 – that of winning a hurling and football double. They were defeated a week ago in a football semi-final and Sunday’s effort also came up short.
Nevertheless, Sixmilebridge are worthy champions and on this evidence a strong run in the Munster club championship could ensue.
SIXMILEBRIDGE: D Fahy; B Carey, N Purcell, B Fitzpatrick (0-1); C Morey, P Mulready, P Fitzpatrick; S Morey, S Golden (0-1); E McInerney, J Loughnane (0-1), J Shanahan (0-3); C Malone (0-3), A Morey (0-8, seven frees), B Corry (0-2).
Subs: C Deasy (0-2) for Loughnane (h/t), A Mulready for Corry, K Lynch for A Morey (both 59 mins), N Gilligan for Shanahan, C Lynch for McInerney (both 70 mins).
CRATLOE: G Ryan; O Murphy, S O'Leary, M Hawes; D Browne, D Ryan (0-3), L Markham; C McGrath (capt, 0-1) E Boyce (0-1); S Gleeson (0-5, three frees), B Connors (0-1), S Collins; P Collins, C McInerney (0-2), R Considine (0-2).
Subs: S Chaplin for Connors (h/t), D Collins for S Collins (39 mins), J McInerney for McGrath (51).
Referee: N Malone (Éire Óg, Ennis).