I’VE always wondered what one of those ‘Monster Meetings’ that O’Connell and Parnell addressed back the centuries were really like.
Wondered how, with no public address, could the words of the wise be transmitted all the way back down the line to the very last person at the back of the crowd.
By word of mouth, of course, but surely it would be like the Guinness add of a few years back when the words would eventually get lost in transmission.
Then again, it probably was never really about the words at those meetings – much more about being there and being part of the movements.
It was about being in Cusack Park on Saturday and again on Sunday, just to have the privilege of seeing those Cratloe footballers do their stuff.
Seeing them strike a mighty blow for football in Clare by winning their first ever senior county title and then following it up 24 hours later by reaching a first ever Munster final.
In playing and winning two championship games on successive days, Cratloe were going where no football team in Clare has ever gone before and it was a remarkable achievement.
A remarkable achievement to play the games, let alone follow up Saturday with a brilliant victory on Sunday against a very good Ballinacourty side.
But it knocked nothing out of them, with Cathal McInerney who bagged eight crucial points over the course of the two days putting it best when he said, “It’s what we do and we love it,” he revealed just before Cratloe finally got down to some celebrating of their historic footballing weekend.
“We just love it, we’d play these games every day if we could. Munster Club, it’s a great honour and privilege to play Munster Club and there was no fear of us playing the two games.”
Colm Collins had more, with his post-match comments on Sunday saying as much about their character as men, as well as footballers or hurlers.
“They are an incredible bunch of players,” he said. “That’s the first thing. Last night we finished the game and we went over to cryotheraphy, went down to the pool, had a meal and we all went home. You didn’t have to worry about who was out, who wasn’t out. You knew for sure that they were all in their beds.”
No wonder Collins was emotional, because it was a momentous few days for those who have given Cratloe football so much, and in many different ways, over the years.
Men like John Ryan, whose spark of missionary genius it was in 1977 to raise the prospect of fielding a football team in the parish again, fully 90 years after they’d first kicked ball in Cratloe.
Those who were members of that Cratloe team in ’77 – men like Jack Liddane who was out on the field after the game documenting history with his camera; club chairman Jack Chaplin who got the honour of presenting the Jack Daly Cup to Martin ‘Ogie’ Murphy.
Michael Houlihan who got underage football going in the club 25 years ago; Jody O’Connor who worked away at football and hurling in the school and the rest is two huge slices of senior championship history in the hurling and football wins of ’09 and ’13 respectively.
Laoisman Sean O’Dea, who also got involved in underage many years ago and stayed with it up through the ranks all the way to being a senior selector on this greatest day.
And Martin Murphy.
A man, who hungered for this day with Cratloe every bit as much as he hungered for Kilmihil to make their big breakthrough at senior championship level.
It was PRO Jim Enright – a grandson of Cratloe’s 1887 county final captain James Enright – who put it best in his programme notes. This one was for Martin Murphy as much as it was for Cratloe.
“Over the past 40 years Martin has played a massive part in Cratloe GAA affairs,” wrote Enright in an article entitled ‘A Living Legend’. “He has seen a huge change in the club’s fortunes, enjoyed some wonderful days and nights and has seen all the big championship trophies pass through the parish. Except for Jack Daly.
“Let’s do it for Martin, he deserves it,” added Enright.
And when it happened, it said much about Doonbeg’s character as great football men that more than one Magpie sought out Murphy in congratulations.
Tommy Tubridy was one – there were plenty more. Tubridy was one of many callers to Murphy’s Cratloe home last year when he was recovering from a work accident.
They’d had many battles on the field, but they they’re kindred football spirits. Football bluebloods who live for the game – and you can be sure that Tubridy, though disappointed for the Magpies, was genuinely delighted for Murphy at the same time.
And delighted Colm Collins too, because the new Clare manager’s work towards this day started as soon as he landed in Cratloe around the turn of the millennium and walked in through the gates of Páirc Michéal O’Hehir for the first time.
Of course the greatest moment came when Barry Kelly sounded the final whistle and Cratloe’s journey from the junior B ranks to the senior summit – 1991-2013 – was complete and then embellished when Martin ‘Ogie’ Murphy clasped a hold of Jack Daly and said: “There’s no need to be reflecting tomorrow on what could have been, we have what is and that’s Jack Daly.”
Then he lifted it.
But, for me the moment goes back to what one of those monster meeting out the Gort Road in Ballycoree might have been like back the centuries.
It’s the 47th minute and minute and man of the match Padraic Collins is on the end of a move involving Cathal McInerney an Sean Collins to fire over his second point and put Cratloe 0-10 to 0-5 clear.
Suddenly there’s a din of noise around the ground.
Not cheering, not even talking, just a noise that’s hard to define or explain. More a feeling or a sense going around the ground that Clare football was finally waking up to the fact that Cratloe were now on the high road. On the N18 home with the cup.
That shuffling sound like people waking up in the middle of the night and not knowing where they were – in this case not believing that it was possible, maybe even that it shouldn’t be possible.
It was and it is – it was extraordinary; Cratloe’s success is extraordinary, but then again they’re an extraordinary bunch as they proved 24 hours later when going to the well once more.
Then, at long last, it was time to be called to bars of Setright’s and the Woodcross on Sunday and into Monday.
It was ‘Glory Cratloe’ – that’s the cant that Martin Murphy brought with him from west Clare where ‘Glory Kilmihil’ used to rent the air anytime they were playing a big championship game.
It’s ‘Glory Cratloe’ now.

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Joe Ó Muircheartaigh graduated from University College Dublin in 1989 with a degree in history and politics. After completing a Diploma in Journalism at The College of Commerce, Rathmines in 1991, he embarked on a career in journalism. Joe spent four years with Clare FM from 1992 and was with The Clare Champion from 1996 to 2005. He has won two McNamee Awards for GAA journalism and has published two books. Contact Joe on [email protected]

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