Crusheen build path to decider on solid defence
Crusheen 0-19 Carrigtwohill 1-10
AN EXCELLENT second-half performance at Pairc Ui Chaoimh propelled Crusheen into the final for the first time.
Trailing by 0-8 to 0-6 having played against the wind in the first period, the back-to-back Clare champions outscored their opponents by 0-6 to 0-1 in the 10 minutes after the restart and, from then on, they always looked likely to progress.
While attackers Jamie Fitzgibbon, Patrick Meaney and former Clare star David Forde each scored three points and were prominent in the second-half turnaround, it was in defence that Crusheen had their real heroes.
Time and again Carrigtwohill forwards found themselves bottled up when in possession, and while a goal from their full-forward Mickey 'Da' Fitzgerald in the 60th minute gave them a glimmer of hope as they got to within four points, further scores by Crusheen's Pat Vaughan and Gerard O'Grady ensured that they took victory.
For Crusheen manager Michael Brown, it was a case of a building on the first-half display rather than having to recover from it, as he cited the wind as being a big factor.
"I don't accept that we had a poor first half," he said. "Because there was a strong breeze there and to end up at only two points down wasn't too bad.
"We felt we were in a very good position and we were praising the team at half-time."
Despite getting the game's first two points through a Vaughan free and one from Fergus Kenneally, Crusheen soon found themselves behind as Carrig reeled off four points in quick succession, Niall McCarthy with the best of them in the 13th minute. And when Crusheen pulled level, Carrig once again pushed ahead, McCarthy, Stephen Dineen and Liam O'Sullivan on target to make it 0-7 to 0-4 by the 20th minute.
The only real goal chance of the half came five minutes later, as Brian Lordan found Tomas Hogan, who evaded the clutches of three Crusheen defenders, but while he struck his shot well, Donal Touhy pulled off a good save and cleared before any Carrig attackers could follow up.
A long-range Vaughan free left just the two points in it at half-time and, with a greater experience of this stage of the competition, they played better hurling in the second half.
The first 10 minutes were key, with Crusheen 0-12 to 0-9 ahead after a brilliant effort from corner-back Alan Brigdale, but Carrig could have pulled level only for a great Touhy save from Fitzgerald on 42 minutes.
Buoyed by that, Crusheen strung four more points together before McCarthy brought Carrig back to within six, 0-16 to 0-10, in the 50th minute. Generally, however, the Cork champions were lacking imagination in attack and Fitzgerald's goal came too late to have any material effect.
Scorers -- Crusheen: P Vaughan 0-6 (5f, 1 '65'), P Meaney, D Forde, J Fitzgibbon 0-3 each, G O'Donnell, G O'Grady, F Kennedy, A Brigdale 0-1 each. Carrigtwohill: M Fiztgerald 1-3 (0-2f), N McCarthy 0-3, S Dineen, B Lordan, L O'Sullivan, T Hogan 0-1 each.
CRUSHEEN -- D Touhy; J Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, A Brigdale; C O'Doherty, Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon; P Vaughan, J Meaney; G O'Donnell, J Fitzgibbon, D Forde; P Meaney, G O'Grady, F Kennedy. Subs: S Dillon for J Meaney (16-20, blood), C O'Donnell for Kennedy (46), A Meaney for Forde (56).
CARRIGTWOHILL -- W McCarthy; P O'Sullivan, R Power, M Foley; C O'Connell, N Furlong, M O'Riordan; D O'Mahony, L O'Sullivan; S Dineen, T Hogan, N McCarthy; R White, B Lordan, M Fitzgerald. Subs: A Gosnell for Foley (39), S O'Farrell for Hogan (43), S Kidney for Lordan (57).
Ref -- J Ryan (Tipperary).