Cratloe wear down 14-man Thurles Sarsfields to earn first Munster final spot
Tipperary champions lost Denis Maher to red card after throw-in incident
Cratloe’s Pádraic Collins scores his side’s goal despite the efforts of Pádraic Maher of Thurles Sarsfields during the AIB Munster Club Senior Hurling Club semi-final at Cusack Park in Ennis. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Cratloe 1-18 Thurles Sarsfields 0-14
Cratloe’s winter of wonder continues, their 1-18 to 0-14 win over Thurles Sarsfields here propelling them into their first ever Munster club final. This victory over the Tipperary champions was made all the more straightforward by the fact of having to play against only 14 men for the entire game after Sars wing forward Denis Maher was red-carded at the throw-in.
Some days are not yours. Thurles must have suspected as much when Maher saw the line not 10 seconds into the game after a wild swing at the throw-in caught Cratloe midfielder Liam Markham in the head. Referee Cathal McAllister had barely moved out of the way after the throw-in when he was reaching for his pocket and sending Maher to the stands.
The Tipperary side hung on to reasonable effect through the first quarter-hour but eventually their want of an extra body around the middle began to tell. Though Mickey Cahill sprinted forward to take a score and late addition Tommy Doyle chipped in with a couple, the ball soon stopped sticking in the Cratloe half-forward line.
The resultant traffic flowed only one way and most of it got routed through Conor McGrath. The Clare star took full advantage, filling his boots with greater and greater relish the longer the afternoon went. He ended the day with 11 points, five from play.
Cratloe went to the break 1-8 to 0-4 ahead, their goal arriving just a minute before half-time. A McGrath shot from distance dropped short and when it squirted out from the clash between Gearóid Considine and David Maher, Podge Collins nipped in to bat the ball home. From there, it was impossible to see a way back for the Tipp champions.
To their credit, they made a fair fist of the second half. Pádraic Maher moved himself out to centrefield and as his influence grew, so Thurles got a foothold. Pa Bourke started popping over frees, Stephen Cahill and Conor Lanigan scored one each from play. On another day, given a fairer wind, they could have made a game of it.
But they were never able to close the gap to anything less than five points. Anytime they inched closer, Cratloe lengthened their stride just enough to stay out of reach. McGrath put them to the sword as he pleased, racking up eight points in the second half by himself.
Onwards then, with the final on November 23rd. Before that, they have a chance to make it a double with a Munster football semi-final next weekend against The Nire.
CRATLOE: Gearóid Ryan; Shane O’Leary, Michael Hawes, David Ryan; Seán Chaplin, Conor Ryan, Enda Boyce; David Collins, Liam Markham (0-3, one free); Shane Gleeson, Podge Collins (1-2), Seán Collins (0-1); Cathal McInerney (0-1), Gearóid Considine, Conor McGrath (0-11, five frees, one 65). Subs: Damian Browne for Considine (35 mins); Barry Duggan for D Collins (55 mins).
THURLES: Patrick McCormack; Stephen Maher, Mickey Cahill (0-1), David Maher; Ronan Maher, Pádraic Maher, Michael Gleeson; Stephen Cahill (0-1), Billy McCarthy (0-1); Denis Maher, Aidan McCormack, Conor Lanigan (0-1); Tommy Doyle (0-2), Pa Bourke (0-8, seven frees), Lar Corbett. Subs: Richie Ruth for A McCormack (39 mins); Michael O’Brien for Doyle (43 mins).
Referee: Cathal McAllister ( Cork).