Cratloe 0-14 Crusheen 0-6
Cratloe triumphed for only the second time in the Clare Senior hurling championship at Cusack Park Ennis, when they defeated Crusheen in the final by eight points in a poor encounter.
This victory is the first in a unique double attempt, as their footballers are due to face Éire Óg at the same venue next Sunday, in the big ball decider.
They bridged a five-year gap since their first hurling crown in 2009 and if they manage a win next Sunday, with as many as 12 dual players in the starting 15, they will be the first club in the county to do the double since Ennis Dalcassians in 1914.
Playing with the aide of the breeze in the opening half, the club from south east Clare, close to Limerick city, got off the mark early. Team captain Liam Markham scored from a long-range free within 20 seconds and it was followed by a Conor McGrath point from play on the minute mark.
However these early scores didn’t put down a marker for what was to come, as both teams were guilty of poor shooting in the opening 10 minutes. A Seán Collins point on 11 minutes put Cratloe three ahead but in the interim, Crusheen missed the target on four occasions while Cratloe struck five wides over that period.
At the half-time whistle, the scoreboard had Cratloe 0-9 to 0-2 ahead.
Crusheen, who had pulled off a surprising victory over fancied Clonlara in the semi-final with only 14 men for over half the game, only managed three points from play over the hour.
This return was never going to be good enough to win a county final against a Cratloe attack that was back-boned by a number of All-Ireland medallists. Paddy Vaughan managed Crusheen's opening score, a pointed free after 13 minutes and landed another one in the 18th. Eventually, the winners managed to string some scores together and take a seven-point lead with them to the dressing rooms.
Gearóid Considine, McGrath on three occasions, Seán Collins and Cathal McInerney all got on the score-sheet and but for a brilliant hook by Crusheen centre-back Cian Dillon early in the half, Cratloe might have added a goal to their interval tally.
Scores were at a premium early in the second period with only a Vaughan point from a free being the sole entry on the scoreboard until the 48th minute.
McGrath converted a 45 metre free after Cathal McInerney was fouled by Crusheen defender Alan Brigdale. McGrath was once again denied a goal three minutes into the half when his low shot was expertly save by goalkeeper Donal Tuohy and deflected out for a '65, which McGrath missed.
Then over a four minute period, Cratloe struck for four unanswered points as the struck up a gear. Cathal McInerney, Podge Collins, his brother David and McGrath once more from a placed ball, had them ahead by 0-14 to 0-4 by the 56th minute.
Crusheen replied with points by Colin Vaughan with a first time pull and Paddy Vaughan got the final score of the afternoon in injury time, on a day when quality hurling was thin on the ground. Nevertheless man-of-the-match and Cratloe centre-back Conor Ryan wasn't too perturbed by the poor quality of the game.
“The quality was never going to matter so long as we got over the line and we now have a long week ahead of us,” he said, in reference to next Sunday’s football final.
CRATLOE: G Ryan; S O'Leary, M Hawes, D Ryan; S Chaplin, C Ryan, E Boyce; M Murphy, L Markham (capt) (0-1); S Gleeson, P Collins (0-1), S Collins (0-2); C McInerney (0-2), G Considine (0-1), C McGrath (0-6, four frees).
Subs: D Collins (0-1) for Gleeson (37 mins), B Duggan for O'Leary (57 mins), D Browne for Considine (60 mins), J O'Gorman for D Ryan (60 mins), P Gleeson for Chaplin (60 mins).
CRUSHEEN: D Tuohy; J Greene, Cathal Dillon, A Brigdale; C O'Doherty (capt), Cian Dillon, S Dillon; P Vaughan 0-5 (three frees), F Kennedy; G O'Donnell, J Meaney, A Tuohy; C O'Donnell, G O'Grady, C Vaughan (0-1).
Subs: D O'Doherty for A Tuohy (42 mins), J Fitzgibbon for Meaney (47 mins), Cronan Dillon for G O'Donnell (55 mins), C O'Loughlin for Brigdale (60 mins).
Referee: S McMahon (Newmarket-on-Fergus).