*Diarmuid Cahill collides with Ashley Brohan. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
COROFIN’s bid to win the Clare intermediate hurling title for the first time in over two decades is firmly on track after they dispatched of the challenge of their neighbours Ruan on Sunday evening.
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge
Better in the air, superior when it came to showing for the ball, more clinical in front of goal and possessing the greater discipline, Corofin were fully deserving of their six point win semi-final win over Ruan.
It sets them up for a final showdown with Sixmilebridge’s second string, a tie that they will certainly carry the favourites tag for and it brings them within sixty minutes of becoming a senior dual club, following in the footsteps of Éire Óg, Cratloe and St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield.
At the beginning of the tie, Corofin blew their neighbours out of the water and built up a 1-5 0-0 lead inside the opening seven minutes. Kevin Keane struck for the goal on two minutes after Michael Kelly turned over a Ruan defender and supplied the delivery.
Kelly had a point to his name with two each from Diarmuid Cahill and Gearoid Kelly plus a single from Jamie Malone to have them in such a healthy position early on. Gearoid Cahill’s assist for Malone’s score where he won a fifty fifty break in the middle of the field off a Ruan puckout epitomised exactly where and how Corofin dominated their opponents early doors.
It took eight minutes for Ruan to register a score, a free from Shane Punch, he had their second four minutes later in between Michael Kelly’s second point and a yellow card for Corofin coach Matt Shannon after he questioned if Ruan mentors were allowed to be down near the Corofin dugout.
Two pointed frees from Gearoid ‘Turbo’ Kelly and another Diarmuid Cahill white flag fleshed the margin out to ten points on nineteen minutes.
Moments earlier, Aidan Lynch had a goal chance for Ruan but his effort went just wide, the long-serving forward who had previously been on county underage panels did well to put a shot together considering he was hobbling on one leg. The thirty two year old was injured heading into the semi-final and was forced off after this attempt, his departure serving as a huge blow to the 2012 champions.
Leaders needed to step up for Ruan at this juncture, there was a glimmer of hope when they scored 0-3 from play without reply, two from Robin Mounsey and one from Ryan Power. Kelly and Punch both added three frees each before the half was out while Diarmuid Cahill and Patrick O’Halloran swapped scores to leave Corofin 1-13 0-9 ahead at the interval.
Spectators could have expected Ruan would be the last of the sides back onto the field in O’Garney Park for the restart but instead it was Corofin that received the extra words of wisdom, the wait prompted ex Clare U21 panellist Mikey Lyons to lead a Ruan warm-up in the centre of the field.
This wait did Ruan no harm and they started the brighter with another tally of three points in succession, O’Halloran, Piarás Ó Sé and another free from Punch lowering the gap to four points with thirty three minutes on the clock
Conor Leen responded with a long range free before Ruan substitute Frankie Lyons pointed with his first touch.
Kelly added three more converted frees but each time Ruan replied, twice with placed balls from Punch and Ó Sé’s second point.
Crucially they could never make the deficit lower than four points and it was effectively game over on forty nine minutes when Michael Kelly raided for Corofin’s goal, latching onto possession and sticking the sliotar to the roof of Keelan Mounsey’s net.
Kelly and Punch again exchanged scores before Jamie Malone popped over a shot with two more Kelly frees added to their tally.
Ruan pulled back a late consolation goal through an unlikely suspect, defender Killian Ryan had wandered up the field and managed to get on a breaking ball, letting fly on the ground and sticking the sliotar past Liam Corbett.
Conceding twelve points from free is always going to be costly and it was part of Ruan’s downfall. They really struggled in the aerial battle in the opening half, allowing Corofin to successfully win their own long puckouts and not alone did Joe Cahill’s side claim the ball in the sky but on each occasion they made a successful catch they had a runner coming off the shoulder looking to create the score, this is where the bulk of Diarmuid Cahill’s four point tally stemmed from.
Undoubtedly there is ability within the Ruan ranks, this is their second semi-final appearance in three years and it is the stage of the competition they should be aspiring to be in. While players on the field would have preferred to see a mix of short and long puckouts, they appeared to be a side who had little work done on the short option so attempting to bring into practice in the penultimate stage of the championship would always be difficult.
In what will be a repeat of the 1988 intermediate decider, Corofin will square off with Sixmilebridge. The North Clare side have been one of the standout teams of the championship but must now back it up by claiming the ultimate prize. Their balance across the team results in a very strong unit and anything other than them winning a first intermediate title since 2002 would be a major upset.
They showed the greater fight on this occasion and won the majority of breaks, their ravenous start to proceedings created a solid foundation and they never let Ruan within four points, even when their opponents were most threatening. Best for the winners were Diarmuid Cahill, Jamie Malone, Gearoid Kelly, Damien O’Loughlin, Gearoid Cahill, Michael Kelly and Conor Leen.
Scorers Corofin: G Kelly (0-12 12f), M Kelly (1-2), D Cahill (0-4), K Keane (1-0), J Malone (0-2), C Leen (0-1 1f).
Scorers Ruan: S Punch (0-10 9f), K Ryan (1-0), R Mounsey (0-2), P O’Halloran (0-2), P Ó Sé (0-2), R Power (0-1), F Lyons (0-1).
1: Liam Corbett
3: Fionn Clancy
4: Marc O’Loughlin
2: Shay Malone
5: Damien Ryan
9: Damien O’Loughlin
7: Conor Leen
11: Gearoid Cahill
8: Cillian McGroary
15: Jamie Malone
22: Diarmuid Cahill
10: Gearoid Kelly
14: Shane O’Brien
12: Kevin Keane
13: Michael Kelly
19: James Organ for McGroary (42) (inj)
21: Killian Neylon for D Cahill (51)
17: Micheál Duffy for Keane (59)
20: Fergus Killeen for O’Brien (59)
1: Keelan Mounsey
2: Alan Woodford
3: Killian Ryan
4: Jason Power
7: Darragh McInerney
6: Colm Rice
5: Michael Lyons
9: Patrick O’Halloran
8: Ashley Brohan
12: Aidan Lynch
11: Ryan Power
10: Piarás Ó Sé
15: Jack McDonagh
13: Robin Mounsey
14: Shane Punch
18: Conall Ó hÁiniféin for Lynch (15) (inj)
17: Tom O’Halloran for McInerney (HT)
19: Frankie Lyons for McDonagh (37)
21: Patrick O’Gorman for M Lyons (51) (inj)
24: Conor Wynne for Ó Sé (51)
Referee: Joe Mullins (Clonlara)