Monageer-Boolavogue 1-16 Craanford 0-11
Monageer-Boolavogue turned an already impressive season into a potentially memorable one when they comfortably brushed aside the challenge of a depleted Craanford with a 1-16 to 0-11 quarter-final victory in The Courtyard Ferns Intermediate hurling championship at a windy St. Patrick's Park on Saturday.
The fare served up by either side in a drab first-half was more ready-made meal than Michelin Star, with perhaps the biggest indication of its low quality the fact that only one point was scored from play in the first 20 minutes. And that was even a rather hopeful shot from distance by Monageer-Boolavogue's Larry Murphy on two minutes.
Earlier, his team-mate Brian O'Loughlin set out his stall with a bone-crunching shoulder on an unsuspecting Niall Berney, and the number 15's consistency from frees that was the defining feature of this win.
O'Loughlin had five such scores on the board by the 20th minute, while his rival free-taker Matthew Nolan converted four himself, before John Fleming nicked a neat score on 21 minutes as Craanford only trailed by 0-6 to 0-5.
His colleague, Ger Lyons, followed suit with a fine score over his shoulder, but incredibly they would subsequently register only once more from play as Monageer-Boolavogue's defence more or less dominated.
Meanwhile, four more O'Loughlin efforts (three frees) and a long-range free from the outstanding Tommy Breen preceded O'Loughlin and Pádraig Flynn combining for Bertie Gahan to confidently tuck away the game's only goal in first-half injury-time as Monageer-Boolavogue held authority by 1-10 to 0-6 by that juncture.
Craanford resumed with another Nolan free, but he then encountered a faulty radar with three wides from scoreable placed balls as their chances began to fade.
In contrast, O'Loughlin was only off-target from one free, and he even popped up in the pocket to point from play on 59 minutes, while Gahan's insurance point deep into injury time confirmed a deserved semi-final berth for Joe Kearns' surprise packets.
Monageer-Boolavogue: Seán Murphy; Niall O'Reilly, Chris Daly, Liam Gahan; Paddy Breen, Tommy Breen (0-1 free), Mick Sweeney; Ian Hawkins, Larry Murphy (0-1); Stephen Murphy, Brian O'Loughlin (0-13, 11 frees), Pádraig Flynn; Diarmuid Fenlon, Matthew Dunne, Bertie Gahan (1-1). Subs. - Mark Gahan for Fenlon (45), Colm O'Loughlin for Murphy (52), Shane Gahan for T. Breen (56), Peter Mernagh for Flynn (62).
Craanford: Derek Finn; Michael O'Loughlin, Pat Kenny, Joe Berney; Pat Murray, William Conroy, Michael Lyons; James O'Loughlin, Niall Berney; Ollie Doran, James Byrne, Ger Lyons (0-1); Tony Kavanagh, Matthew Nolan (0-9, 8 frees), John Fleming (0-1). Subs. - Jim Kenny for J. O'Loughlin, inj. (HT), Jamesie Nolan for Byrne (53), Des Kavanagh for T. Kavanagh (59).
Referee: Brian O'Leary (Crossabeg-Ballymurn).