Crusheen booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Clare Senior Hurling Championship with a four point win over Éire Óg.
Éire Óg 0-16
Venue: Cusack Park
2014 County Finalists Crusheen made their experience count when they knocked Éire Óg out of the Clare SHC outscoring the Townies 0-11 to 0-04 in the second half. For a spell it looked like Éire Óg would cause an upset but as with all their games in the 2015 Championship they failed to put a solid sixty minute performance together.
Colin Vaughan was first off the mark with a free forty four seconds in. Éire Óg replied with three scores from Danny Russell on the trot to give them a two point lead with six minutes played. Fergus Kennedy and Darragh O’Doherty levelled matters on the eighth minute.
Five scores in succession three via Danny Russell and one each from Davy O’Halloran and Ronan Keane pushed the Ennis club into a five point lead with fifteen minutes on the clock.
A high-ball sent in towards the Éire Óg goal was fielded by Patrick O’Grady but the towering Crusheen full-forward was dragged down and referee Ambrose Heagney awarded the penalty. Up stepped Donal Tuohy and he fired an excellent shot past Kevin Brennan to give his side a much needed boost with eighteen minutes gone.
Danny Russell and Tom Downes added white flags to restore Éire Óg’s lead but they then hit three wides in succession and these misses proved costly for a finish. Points from Colin Vaughan and Conor O’Donnell lowered the gap and this was followed by Russell and Vaughan exchanging scores. The final score of the half fell to Danny Russell as he converted a free on the stroke of half-time to leave Seamus Durack’s side three points clear at the break.
Crusheen started the second half with vigour and they needed to with Colin Vaughan and Alan Tuohy pointing inside the first five minutes. Darragh O’Doherty and Vaughan added points to put Crusheen in front for the first time since the opening minute of the tie. Davy O’Halloran picked up Éire Óg’s first score of the second half with forty five minutes played.
John Carmody’s charges responded with two scores in succession from Darragh O’Doherty and one from substitution Paddy Vaughan who lifted the Crusheen crowd upon his introduction. Russell and Alan Tuohy traded scores on the twentieth minute to leave the 2010 and 2011 Champions three points clear.
Paddy Vaughan was on target from his right-hand side on the twenty third and his side added another point via the hard-working Gearoid O’Donnell on the twenty fifth minute. Substitute Tadgh Connellan got his name on the scoresheet for the Townies as did Barry Nugent while Conor O’Donnell sealed the win with a point on the thirty second minute.
After a stunning first half it was hoped Éire Óg would be able to repeat it in the second thirty minutes but they went flat as Crusheen powered on. It has been a constant feature of their year, they were tied with Sixmilebridge with twenty two minutes remaining in Round One but lost by twelve points while in the second round they let a nine point half-time lead become one but they just held out against Tubber. This and three wides on the trot in the first half killed their challenge.
Their first half display contained some of their best hurling all year and had they kept this going they would have caused an upset. Éire Óg struggled to feed their dangerous attackers with enough possession in the second half and paid the price for it. Michael Moloney put in a solid hour for the Townies while Danny Russell, Dara Walsh and Shane O’Donnell stood out.
It was a scare for Crusheen but it is one that they will learn from and perhaps will make them an even stronger outfit for the quarter-finals. They hit an uncharacteristic eleven wides over the hour but they were always confident they would come out on top. They lost Jason Greene and Cathal Dillon to injury but showed their strength in depth by bringing players of Paddy Vaughan and Joe Meaney from the bench.
The Kevin O’Grady trained side showed their nerve by keeping their heads when things didn’t go their way and confirmed the theory that Crusheen aren’t beaten until the final whistle. With a number of players returning from injury, they will only build on this and are a force to be reckoned with in the last eight. Alan Tuohy, Cathal Dillon, Darragh O’Doherty and Cian Dillon did best for the victors.
Crusheen: Donal Tuohy (1-00 Pen); Jason Greene, Gerry O’Grady, Alan Brigdale; Shaun Dillon, Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon; Ciaran O’Doherty, Darragh O’Doherty (0-04 3f); Alan Tuohy (0-02), Fergus Kennedy (0-01), Gearoid O’Donnell (0-01); Conor O’Donnell (0-02), Patrick O’Grady, Colin Vaughan (0-05 3f 1’65). Subs: Mark Perill for Greene (02) (Inj), Paddy Vaughan (0-02) for Kennedy (44), Killian Mullins for P O’Grady (49), Sean Weir for Cathal Dillon (53) (Inj).
Éire Óg: Kevin Brennan; Michael Moloney, Ciarán Russell, Marc O’Donnell; Dara Walsh, Noel Whelan, Liam Corry; Tom Downes (0-01), Dean Ryan; David Durack, Brian Dolan, Ronan Keane (0-01); Danny Russell (0-09 7f), Shane O’Donnell, Davy O’Halloran (0-02). Subs: Conor Stack for Whelan (14) (Inj), Niall McMahon for Stack (35), Barry Nugent (0-01) for Durack (37), Kevin Moynihan for Ryan (42), Tadgh Connellan (0-01) for Downes (49).
Referee: Ambrose Heagney (Corofin).
All photos courtesy of John Meyler.