AIB Munster Senior Club Hurling Championship – Kilmallock (Limerick) 2-11 Crusheen (Clare) 0-14

Clinical Kilmallock keep Crusheen at bay

Crusheen (Clare) 0-14 Kilmallock (Limerick) 2-11

By Michael Moynihan for the Irish Examiner newspaper

Monday, November 01, 2010

A KILMALLOCK scoring burst – 2-4 in six minutes at the start of the second-half – was the turning point in this AIB Munster club SHC quarter-final yesterday in Cusack Park. The outbreak of goals and points transformed what had been a dull encounter into a rip-roaring contest between the Limerick champions and Clare kingpins Crusheen, and though Kilmallock won, their opponents lost little in defeat. Seven points down early in the second half, the Clare champions could have been forgiven for folding their tents, but they dug in and with two minutes left were only two points down. However, it was Kilmallock that would close the game out. “That five-minute spell… the second goal killed us,” Crusheen boss Michael Browne said afterwards. “One goal you could make up, but the second goal was the real killer.”

His opposite number, Tony Considine, agreed, adding that some “raw things” had been told to the Kilmallock players at half-time and they’d responded. “The two goals – there’s no such thing as a bad goal. You’ll take any one you’ll get, and once we got those goals, that was it. We drove on from there.” Kilmallock defended the scoreboard end in the first half and maybe showed the effects of a few weeks’ inaction – Crusheen thundered into the game, driven on by a dominant half-back line. Gerry O’Grady and Gearoid O’Donnell snapped over points either side of a Pat Vaughan free, which put the Clare champions three points up in as many minutes.

The springboard for Crusheen’s dominance was their much-vaunted defence, but there was an early blow to that sector. On ten minutes, star centre-back Cian Dillon dislocated a thumb and had to go off for lengthy treatment; though he returned, he wasn’t the same player, and with Paddy Vaughan, Crusheen’s scorer-in-chief, carrying an injury into the game the Clare side were under pressure. Kilmallock settled to their task, too. It took the Limerick champions fifteen minutes to collect their first score, through Paudie O’Dwyer, but by the 21st minute they’d cut Crusheen’s lead to one through Jake Mulcahy and an Andrew O’Shaughnessy free. The highlight of the half came on 23 minutes, when a sumptuous sideline cut from Pat Vaughan was given as a point, despite Barry Hennessy’s valiant effort in the Kilmallock goal. O’Shaughnessy responded with a free and Vaughan answered for Crusheen from another dead ball. Eoin Ryan had a late score from distance for Kilmallock but Vaughan – who else? – punished Kilmallock indiscipline with another free, leaving it 0-7 to 0-5 at the break and the crowd, frankly, desperate for a spark to the game.

“We should have been more than two points down,” Considine admitted. “We weren’t hurling with our normal fluency and we weren’t finding our men the way we usually do – but then, Ennis isn’t an easy place to come to for a result.” Informed by Considine that they’d given Crusheen too much respect in the first half, Kilmallock wired into the game on the resumption, snapping over four points in four minutes. On 35 minutes, Crusheen ‘keeper Donal Tuohy dropped a Bryan O’Sullivan delivery and Andrew O’Shaughnessy swept home the game’s first goal; within sixty seconds a high dropping ball into the square enticed Tuohy off his line, only for Shane O’Donnell to touch the ball home. Suddenly it was 2-9 to 0-7. Crusheen rallied – Gearoid O’Donnell drove forward for two points, while Vaughan, injured though he was, cut another sideline over the bar, but the Claremen needed goals and with Gavin O’Mahony excelling at centre-back for Kilmallock, they never looked like getting one.

Joe Meaney eventually cut the deficit to two points for Crusheen with two minutes left, but Kilmallock, fittingly, had the last word when Paudie O’Brien lofted over their final score from halfway. Considine acknowledged that Kilmallock still have some work to do, despite their second-half scoring burst. “We were still loose after the scores and that won’t do against other teams, teams that will take advantage. We have a tendency to sit back, size up the opposition, score a few goals and then sit back again. We have to get that out of them – they can’t be admiring hurlers and feel they’ve the game won if they’ve a couple of goals scored. .” Kilmallock will now host Tipperary champions, Thurles Sars, at home. “We said coming up that we wanted to bring the Tipp champions to Kilmallock,” Considine concluded. “It’ll be a great occasion, but occasions are for spectators. Matches are for teams to win, and we’ll be looking to have a good cut at it.”

Scorers for Crusheen: P. Vaughan (0-7, 0-4 frees, 0-2 sidelines), G. O’Donnell, J. Meaney (0-1 f, 0-3) each, G. O’Grady (0-1).

Scorers for Kilmallock: A. O’Shaughnessy (1-3, 0-3 frees), J. Mulcahy (1-2), G. Mulcahy, P. O’Dwyer (0-2) each; E. Ryan, P. O’Brien (0-1) each.

CRUSHEEN: D. Tuohy, J. Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, A. Brigdale, Cathal Dillon, Cian Dillon, C. O’Doherty, T. Meaney, P. Vaughan, G. O’Donnell, J. Meaney, D. Forde, C. O’Donnell, G. O’Grady ( capt), F. Kennedy.

Subs: P. Meaney for Cian Dillon (11), Cian Dillon for P. Meaney (21), P. Meaney for T. Meaney (39), P. O’Grady for P. Vaughan (55).

KILMALLOCK: B. Hennesy, L. Hurley, P. O’Loughlin, K. O’Mahony, L. Walsh, G. O’Mahony (capt), B. O’Sullivan, E. Ryan, P. O’Brien, P. O’Dwyer, S. O’Donnell, G. O’Sullivan, G. Mulcahy, A. O’Shaughnessy, J. Mulcahy.

Subs: P. Connery for S. O’Donnell (51), K. O’Donnell for J. Mulcahy (57).

Referee: C. McAllister (Cork)