*Eoghan McMahon strikes under pressure from Niall O’Connor. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A ravenous Crusheen raided for three first half goals to blitz previously unbeaten Newmarket-on-Fergus and advance to their first senior hurling championship semi-final in four years in Cusack Park.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
A Breffni Horner strike within 25 seconds of the throw-in proved an early statement of intent as two further goals in as many minutes nearing the break through Fergus Kennedy and Horner ensured an unassailable 3-5 to 0-2 half-time cushion.
Having only won one championship match prior to the quarter-final, a scorned Crusheen had a point to prove and they certainly made their mark as their superior determination and application was in total contrast to a shell-shocked Newmarket who simply couldn’t find their rhythm at any stage of a forgettable opening period.
Roles were reversed on the restart as Eanna Crimmins had the ball in Crusheen’s net after only 30 seconds of the new half but despite repairing a lot of the damage, it was always going to be a major mountain to climb to actually reel in the leaders.
Points from Eanna Crimmins, Peter Power and Eoin Hayes lessened the damage to six by the two-thirds mark but that was as good as it got for the Blues as Crusheen finally opened their second half account through a Breffni Horner free in the 42nd minute while restricting their opponents to only a single point in the final quarter.
More significantly despite the atrocious weather conditions, all but two points of Crusheen 3-7 tally stemmed from play whereas Newmarket’s first score from open play came in the 31st minute with that Eanna Crimmins goal.
Flawless up to this tie, the Blues saved their most lacklustre performance for last and more worryingly lacked leaders at crucial junctures to be able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and alter the narrative.
Crusheen meanwhile couldn’t have asked for a better jolt as alongside the potent Horner, Jamie Fitzgibbon, Diarmuid Mullins, Ross Hayes and Cian Dillon excelled throughout to steer Michael Browne’s side to a first semi-final since 2019.
Scorers for Crusheen: Breffni Horner 2-1 (1f), Jamie Fitzgibbon 0-3, Fergus Kennedy 1-0, Eoghan McMahon 0-1, Cilléin Mullins 0-1, Ross Hayes 0-1 (f)
Scorers for Newmarket-on-Fergus: Eanna Crimmins 1-1, Peter Power 0-2 (2f), Colin Guilfoyle 0-1 (f), Eoin Hayes 0-1, Eoin Guilfoyle 0-1, Mikey McInerney 0-1
1: Donal Tuohy
7: Eanna McMahon
3: Cian Dillon
4: Luke Hayes
2: Tadhg Dean
6: Ross Hayes
21: Diarmuid Mullins
12: Jamie Fitzgibbon
18: Eoghan McMahon
14: Gerry O’Grady
13: Conor O’Donnell
8: Cilléin Mullins
9: Oisin O’Donnell
20: Fergus Kennedy
11: Breffni Horner
15: Ian O’Brien for Eoghan McMahon (46)
17: Mark Perrill for Kennedy (52)
10: Luke Ketelaar for O’Grady (60)
5: Gavin O’Brien for D. Mullins (64)
1: Paudie Guilfoyle
2: Sean O’Connor
3: Colin Guilfoyle
4: Paudie McMahon
5: Jack Enright
18: Enda Barrett
6: Niall O’Connor
10: Mikey McInerney
12: John Feehily
15: Eoin Guilfoyle
19: Colin Ryan
13: Stephen Casey
21: Eanna Crimmins
11: Peter Power
20: Eoin Hayes
9: James Freeman for Ryan (47)
17: Liam O’Connor for N. O’Connor (55)
7: Mark Delaney for Feehily (56)
8: Shane Lynch for E. Guilfoyle (61)
Referee: Johnny Healy (Smith O’Brien’s)