FOR the second successive match, Cratloe held the upper hand in this local derby but they had to endure a real scare before finally collecting the Opening points of the season. With both clubs still involved in the Under 21 championship and county senior action dominating the weekend’s fixtures, selections were hampered but it was Sixmilebridge who missed their big guns most as Cratloe dom1- nated for the majority. From the out- set, Cratloe were hungry and sharp while the Bridge appeared sluggish and at times static when striking and that combination meant that Cratloe were never behind over the hour and at times looked all too comfortable.
However, after building up a 0-13 to O-08 advantage by the 40th minute, perhaps a grain of complacency crept in as a rejuvinated Sixmilebridge tacked over five unanswered points to draw level by the 55th minute. They couldn’t take full advantage though as Cratloe finally recovered to score the final three points and avoid a ma- jor slip-up.
The early season rustiness was ful- ly evident throughout the match, em- pitomised by the amount of needless and lazy frees given away on both
sides that rival marksmen Damien Browne and Stiofan Fitzpatrick gob- bled up with ease. However, aside from Fitzpatrick and occasionally Danny Morey, Sixmilebridge never really carried a threat up front and had too many passengers while Crat- loe had a strong launching pad from their half-back line and midfield and seemed to have more options in the final third. That was essentially the difference in the first half as Cratloe, despite facing into the breeze, took the game to the Bridge and had six different scorers in their 0-10 to O-7 half-time lead while all but one point from the Bridge came from Fitz- patrick’s placed balls.
Sixmilebridge made changes at the break, introducing John Reddan at centre-forward and pushing Fitz- patrick to full-forward and that part- nership would prove fruitful later in the game. However, it would get a lot worse before it would improve for the Bridge as two Browne °65’s and a point from Gearoid Ryan cancelled out Danny Morey opening point and gave the home side a O-13 to 0-8 cushion by the 40th minute.
Then out of nothing, the game be- gan to turn. An Adrian Chaplin pull was excellently blocked by goal- keeper Hayes, John Reddan began
to win vital possession around the centre and Stiofan Fitzpatrick looked increasingly threatening inside and it gave the Bridge momentum as the lead began to topple. Points from Fit-
Zpatrick (3), Danny Morey and sub- stitute Eoin Quinn restored parity by the 55th minute and all of a sudden, it was the Bridge who looked the more likely winners.
However, ringing the changes and finally coming to life once more, Cratloe hit back and it was Gearoid Ryan who eased the tension in injury time when he pointed over his shoul- der and that relief was manifested further when Damien Browne was presented with two easy frees to ce- ment the win and continue their new- found hold over their local rivals.