The 19th with Joe O’Muircheartaigh

THE pity was that Cratloe manager Colm Collins didn’t bring on a sixth sub before the end of the game. And, a great pity it was too.
If Collins had chosen to do so, the thing to do would have been to pick that last sub from a gang of three made up of John O’Gorman, Gearóid Ryan and Philip Gleeson.
That would have given yet another layer of history to what was a truly historic afternoon for Cratloe and Clare GAA.
Here’s why!
Of the county final winning football team there were 11 starters who had played in the hurling final the week previously. On top of that throw in David Ryan, Shane O’Leary and David Collins who came on as subs on Sunday and you have 14 dual senior medalists on the field of play only seven days apart.
How fitting it would have been had Collins decided to round it off to 15 players and have a full team of dual medal winners on the field by throwing O’Gorman, Ryan or Gleeson on for the final few minutes.
It’s remarkable stuff really, particularly against the backdrop of what has been concerted drive at local and national (probably internationally too) level to bring about the death of the dual star.
It became the cause célèbre of Dónal Óg Cusack on The Sunday Game, when for a while there during the summer all he seemed intent on doing – whether he was put up to it or it was off his own hurley – was to take pot shots and lower his blade on members of the Collins clan over their wish to play both hurling and football.
And, it’s been a cause célèbre closer to home too, with Clare football goalkeeper Joe Hayes taking to twitter on Sunday night to say “‘some guys think they can do both but they can’t’ a manager said this year,” before he adding the hash tags of #justaskthecratloeboysnow and #doublechampions.
Against the backdrop of the knocking of dual stars, Cratloe’s victories couldn’t have come at a better time, however painful it was for yours truly to see the Townies come out on the wrong side of Sunday’s game.
It was a tough day and a tougher night. And on it went into Monday. And beyond.
But it was Cratloe’s day and night; Cratloe’s week and Cratloe’s year.
The day, night, week and year that they struck a mighty blow for the very concept of the dual club and the dual player.
Of course an Éire Óg win would have done the same, but to a lesser extent because it was Cratloe’s sheer weight of numbers and those 14 players who played in both county finals and the fact that both finals were won seven days apart that makes it the greatest week of their lives.
This was living history – living hurling and football history being played out before our eyes. Something that never had been done before and truth told, it’s something that will probably never be done again.
Yes the famous Ennis Dalcassians of 1929 when both the hurling and football teams were captained by the legendary Turlough ‘Tull’ Considine did the double, but the hurling was by dint of a walkover from a disgruntled Newmarket-on-Fergus team.
Yes the Dals won both titles for 1914 on the field of play, but the hurling title was won in ’15, while it was ’16 before they finally laid claim to the football title.
That’s why Cratloe are a club apart in the history of Clare GAA. It’s taken them all of 130 years since the foundation of the GAA to reach that pedestal, but the perch they now occupy will always be theirs.
In hurling they lived in the shadow of behemoths like Sixmilebridge, Newmarket-on-Fergus and Wolfe Tones for generations, while in football there was no shadow simply because the seat of football power and influence never crossed the GAA’s very own Mason-Dixon line which meant that all serious football was west of Ennis.
It’s all changed now though, because Cratloe have stared history, tradition and old orders down in both hurling and football over the past five years and created their own special chapter. Their own New Order.
And it’s why Cratloe should be a template for others – for people within clubs not a million miles away from them who would privately boast of a determination to stab every football in sight for fear the game would ever take real hold and threaten the higher authority of hurling.
But more importantly the Clare County Board should take note of Cratloe and learn from their remarkable achievements.
After all on Sunday, from his vantage point in Cusack Park’s Ard Comhairle it was the board chairman Michael McDonagh who said “Cratloe must be doing something right and for those of you who have won the double in Clare it’s is something that will live with ye for the rest of your lives”.
Now to learn from them.
Now to put a policy in place at board level – written down, monitored and practiced – when it comes to dual players.
Best to start with the county minor teams for 2015.
Both will be under new managements – under those managements provision has to be made for players to play both codes. It’s in Tipperary; it’s in Waterford; it’s in Cork. It has to be in Clare, unlike this year just past when the only dual county minor was Eoin Hanrahan of St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield. Without naming all the names again, there should have been at least five or six more.
It has to be said that the early indications that change to this dual player policy could be afoot at minor level aren’t that encouraging.
Take last Monday week’s Under 17 Munster football tournament game between Clare and Tipperary in Gurteen – there were no players from dual clubs like St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield (2014 under 16 A champions) or Éire Óg (2014 under 16 B champions and minor A finalists) invited, while the Lissycasey/Kilmaley alliance (minor A football and hurling champions respectively) were also left out of the loop.
The under 17 tournament is a preparatory tournament for the county minor team that will be there in 2015, so was it a case of players from the above clubs not being invited in because there might be dual players among them and the policy is that dual players are not wanted?
Or was it something more sinister whereby it was an early attempt to backbone the 2015 minor team with players from the traditional heartland of west Clare?
That’s hopefully changed a bit a week on for the second game in the tournament – it was taking place at the time of writing on Monday night (yesterday) against Limerick in Rathkeale – but if it has it’s probably only because serious questions were asked by the Lissycasey, Éire Óg and St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield clubs.
Only right too, because if Cratloe’s success has taught us anything it’s that the football map in Clare has been re-drawn.
It’s why they’re out on their own this week, with those 14 dual county medalists on the field of play part of something truly special.
It’s why it’s only right that the 14 be named, because within the wider success of Cratloe’s unbelievable story they stand above everyone else.
Sean Chaplin, Barry Duggan, Shane O’Leary, Martin Murphy, Michael Hawes, Enda Boyce, Conor Ryan, Sean Collins, Liam Markham, Conor McGrath, Cathal McInerney, Padraic Collins, David Ryan and David Collins.
Take a bow.

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