Clooney-Quin 1-10 Crusheen 0-9
Clooney-Quin have answered their critics in a defiant fashion by booking a place in the senior hurling championship quarter-finals for the first time at the expense of their fancied arch rivals Crusheen.
Their well deserved four-point victory earns Clooney-Quin bragging rights over their neighbours for the next year but more importantly it gives them a chance to realise their potential in the knock-out stages.
In recent years, Clooney-Quin have displayed a tendency to self-destruct in big games and have been accused of lacking the killer instinct to put the game beyond the reach of their opponents.
Although Pat O’Rourke’s charges should have delivered the killer blow to the lethargic Crusheen outfit long before the final whistle, their ability to survive in a tight game marks a welcome change for their supporters.
Crusheen have been something of a bogey team for Clooney-Quin, who have lived in their shadow, and this was their first win in a championship game over their deadly rivals since the late ’90s.
In the two recent Clare Champion Cup games, Crusheen were convincing winners and were expected to get their bid for the quarter-finals back on track.
Having crushed Smith O’Brien’s in their last outing with an impressive second-half display with just 14 men, it is hard to explain Crusheen’s tame exit from the championship race.
While the loss of the injured Gerry O’Grady, Tony Meaney (mumps) and the suspended Paddy Meaney weakened the 2007 county finalists, a lot more was expected from the Reds, who struggled to cope with Clooney-Quin’s greater determination and work rate. A lack of discipline is also a problem for the Reds, who finished with 14 men for the second successive game after defender Alan Brigdale was given his marching orders shortly before the final whistle.
Despite playing against a strong wind, Clooney-Quin dictated matters early on and led by 0-6 to 0-2 in the 21st minute.
The winners could have been even further ahead if Fergal Lynch, who caused problems for Cathal Dillion early on, converted a goal chance in the 12th minute. Lynch collected a great cross from Paudie Ward but stumbled at a critical time before he blazed to the left and wide.
It took Crusheen 16 minutes to register a score from the hard working Paddy Vaughan from play. Sandwiched in between a converted Paddy Vaughan free were three Clooney-Quin points on the trot from Martin Duggan, Fergal Lynch and Derek Ryan to put them four ahead five minutes later.
Crusheen eventually woke from their slumber to score four unanswered points to draw level, 0-6 apiece, at the break.
Alan Tuohy gave Crusheen the lead for the first time after the change of ends but four minutes later they were rocked by a well-taken Fergal Lynch goal set up by Paudie Ward.
Although Crusheen kept in touch with a Joe Meaney point, they were finding it more difficult to score as the second half wore on. Clooney-Quin centre-back Cillian Duggan cut off several promising attacks with a series of interceptions and long deliveries and he was ably assisted by Conor and Enda Harrisson.
Only for the efforts of Cronan Dillon, Ciaran O’Doherty, Paddy Vaughan, Cian Dillion and Fergus Kennedy, Crusheen could have suffered an even heavier defeat.
A brace of points from John Earls put Clooney-Quin 1-8 to 0-8 ahead after 47 minutes. Paddy Vaughan went for a goal from a 35m free, which was blocked at the expense of an unconverted 65’ five minutes later. Four minutes from the end, Fergus Kennedy cut the gap to just two points but Clooney-Quin finished with points from Mike McNamara and Derek Ryan to seal a rare victory.
Clooney-Quin: Cathal Hannon; Shane McNamara, Conor Harrison, Paul Clune; Enda Harrisson, Cillian Duggan, Adrian Fleming; Mike McNamara, Seán Conheady; John Earls, Cathal Egan (yellow card), Martin Duggan; Paudie Ward, Fergal Lynch (yellow card), Derek Ryan.
Sub: Michael Daffy for Paudie Ward (58 mins).
Scorers: Derek Ryan (0-5, 0-4f), Fergal Lynch (1-1), John Earls (0-2), Mike McNamara and Martin Duggan (0-1 each).
Frees for: 16. Wides: 6. 65s: 0.
“Overall, I was happy with the result and our target is to get to the semi-finals.” Clooney-Quin manager, Pat O’Rourke.
Crusheen: Donal Tuohy; John Brigdale, Cathal Dillon, Alan Brigdale; Jason Greene, Cronan Dillon, Ciaran O’Doherty; Paddy Vaughan (yellow card), Cian Dillon; Fergus Kennedy, Shaun Dillon (yellow card), Joe Meaney; Alan Tuohy, Brendan McMahon, Gearoid O’Donnell.
Sub: Conor O’Donnell (35 mins) for Brendan McMahon and Paddy O’Grady (51 mins) for Alan Tuohy.
Scorers: Paddy Vaughan (0-4; 0-2f, 0-1 65’), Fergus Kennedy (0-2), Shaun Dillon, Joe Meaney and Alan Tuohy (0-1 each).
Frees for: 17. Wides: 9. 65s: 3.
“It is very disappointing for the players and the management not to reach the quarter-finals, which was our aim at the start of the year.” Crusheen selector, Eddie Fitzpatrick.
Referee: Michael Fitzgerald.