Crusheen have qualified for the Clare SHC semi-finals for the first time since 2015 dethroning reigning champions Ballyea.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Their success was fully merited as they displayed their trademark desire and grit to overcome a Ballyea side who themselves showed such traits in recent seasons claiming the Canon Hamilton in 2016 and 2018.
A dominant opening half for Crusheen in which they scored eleven points through eight different scorers saw Ballyea enter the dressing room at half-time knowing their status as county champions
was on the brink.
Ballyea upped their game considerably in the second half, Tony Kelly returned to the field having been substituted moments before half-time after receiving a shoulder from Alan Brigdale. In fact, they outscored their counterparts 2-05 0-07, the goals coming courtesy of Gary Brennan and a sixty sixth minute Kelly free.
During the seven minutes of additional time, six were signalled, Niall Deasy who in recent campaigns has been instrumental in Ballyea’s success saw his free from the opposing 65m line tail to the right hand side of the goalpost in what turned out to be the last puck of the game. Without Deasy today, they would not have been in contention towards the closing minutes.
With the conclusion of their year, Kevin Sheehan’s Ballyea will be disappointed. They can have no excuses, they squandered too many scoring chances hitting fourteen wides, their opponents had eight. It was in their own attack where the game fell from them, not only because of the missed chances but the absence of workrate. At times in defence their use of the ball caused self-inflicted problems which Crusheen punished. Jack Browne was the standout player for the two time champions.
They may have been guilty of easing up on the gas in the second half but Crusheen lived to tell the tale. A semi-final is the prize and none of the remaining clubs will be keen to draw the Blood and Bandages. Their spread of scorers, nine different players registered on the scoresheet in comparison to Ballyea’s three and proved to be the groundwork of their success.
Critical to their progress has been how James Carrig’s management have blooded in young players to accompany their experienced men. Jamie Fitzgibbon, Ciaran O’Doherty, Donal Tuohy and Paddy Vaughan were most impressive for the winners.
Scorers Crusheen: J Fitzgibbon (0-04), R Hayes (0-04 2f), C O’Donnell (0-03), B Horner (0-02), É McMahon (0-01), F Kennedy (0-01), P Vaughan (0-01), J Brigdale (0-01), Cian Dillon (0-01).
Scorers Ballyea: N Deasy (0-07 4f), T Kelly (1-04 1-00f), G Brennan (1-00)
Crusheen: Donal Tuohy; John Brigdale, Cathal Dillon, Alan Brigdale; Tadhg Dean, Cian Dillon, Ciaran O’Doherty; Jamie Fitzgibbon, Ross Hayes; Paddy Vaughan, Fergus Kennedy, Éanna McMahon; Conor O’Donnell, Cilléin Mullins, Breffni Horner
Subs: Mark Perill for Vaughan (42) (Inj), Gavin O’Brien for A Brigdale (55) (Inj), Sean Weir for Mullins (57), Darragh O’Doherty for McMahon (60), Luke Hayes for Kennedy (64).
Ballyea: Barry Coote; Brian Casey, Paul Flanagan, Peter Casey; James Murphy, Jack Browne, Brandon O’Connell; Gary Brennan, Tony Kelly; Pearse Lillis, Tadhg Lynch, Ryan Griffin; Martin O’Leary, Niall Deasy, Aonghus Keane.
Subs: Morgan Garry for Kelly (30), Tony Kelly for Garry (HT), Damien Burke for Keane (36), Aaron Griffin for O’Leary (46), Morgan Garry for Lynch (57).
Referee: Jim Hickey (Cratloe)