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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
Ryan Byrne/INPHO The Cratloe team warm down after their Munster hurling semi-final win over Thurles Sarsfields.
# Dual Stars
Clare dual champs Cratloe have only had one weekend off since mid July but won't complain
Cratloe take on Kilmallock next Sunday after a hectic season of action.

ONE DREAM DIED but the planning to realise another began straight away.

When Clare saw their status as All-Ireland senior hurling champions crushed in Wexford Park last July, Conor Ryan shifted his focus amidst the wreckage of defeat.

The Clare county campaign had ended, the Cratloe club campaign had just begun.

“It was probably a low enough day. The last thing on your mind was playing club the next week.

“But the minute we got off the bus in Cratloe, I turned to Sean Collins who was living with me at the time and said, ‘we’ve talked about the double in Clare before and this is the best opportunity we might ever have to win it’.

“The silver lining to losing to Wexford if you wanted to find one was that we had the club to concentrate on. We trained as we had done all year, let nothing slide and controlled the controllables.”

Double

Their attiude paid dividends. They landed the double in Clare, the first time it had been achieved in the county since 1929. That was the springboard for a double Munster assault and that attempt was only halted last Sunday in Dungarvan by The Nire footballers.

Conor Ryan scores their second goal Ken Sutton / INPHO Conor Ryan fires home a goal for Cratloe against The Nire last Sunday. Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

The hurling hopes persist with an AIB Munster hurling final next Sunday against Kilmallock next Sunday. Their recent schedule has been hectic and frenzied.

“Since I lost that game to Wexford, I think I have played a game every weekend since with the club bar one, between league games and championship”, outlines Ryan.

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“We got into a rhythm and routine very quickly. We promised ourselves  in the dressing room last Sunday that as of Monday we’d wake up with a clear head and a clear heart.

“Joe McGrath has a great phrase, that if you try to live off yesterday’s dinner you will starve. It’s the same for winning and losing you have to get over a win as quick as you have a loss.”

AIB GAA Club Championships - #TheToughest Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE Cratloe's Conor Ryan. Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE / SPORTSFILE

Sunday is the biggest day in the club’s hurling history. This year is only their second ever Munster hurling journey, losing out back in 2009 against Ballygunner after they landed their first Clare crown.

Irrespective of the outcome in the Gaelic Grounds, they will still have local business to take care of. The Clare Cup hurling final against Clonlara is still a box to be ticked and a Division 3 football final that’s been pencilled in for Stephen’s Day.

Travel

Ryan works for Davy Stockbrokers in Galway and treks from Oranmore to Cratloe for training midweek. But he isn’t complaining that his diary is packed and shows no sign of clearing.

“It’s an hour, once you get out of Galway traffic. I just tip down the motorway. Working with Davy Stockbrokers and it’s a good team dynamic there. They’re very understanding of the GAA.

Conor Ryan, Cathal McInerney and David Collins celebrate James Crombie / INPHO Conor Ryan, Cathal McInerney and David Collins celebrate the recent Clare hurling final win. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“I drive down on a Tuesday and Thursday night with a smile on my face, the whole way. To train with your best mates is very enjoyable and we’re not being killed at training either, the fact we’re playing week on week. It’s the skills, all the stuff you love.

“We’ll be long enough on a break over the winter night and we’re not looking past
Sunday. If you said in January that you’d still be hurling this close to December, you would have bitten someone’s hand off for the opportunity so it is great.”

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