*Oisin O’Donnell scored 1-04 for Crusheen. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

CRUSHEEN saved their senior status and sent Smith O’Briens into a relegation battle less than a year after their promotion.

Crusheen 2-20
Smith O’Briens 0-13
Venue: O’Garney Park, Sixmilebridge

By Derek Dormer

After their remarkable heroics two weeks ago when defeating last season’s beaten finalists Inagh/Kilnamona, one wondered could the Killaloe men get themselves back up to that level of performance or would Crusheen who were in the last chance saloon rescue their season and by doing so take themselves out of the dreaded relegation scenario.

With so much on the line a fierce frenetic battle was anticipated by all and that was exactly what we got in a physical battling first half.

Crusheen started on the front foot and raced into a five points to one lead by the 9th minute. A monster Cian Dillon score from his own 45 was the spark that ignited the Crusheen men into action and terrific scores followed from Oisin O’Donnell, Diarmuid Mullins and two incredible long distance points from Conor O’Donnell.

Smith O’Briens did respond with a Tommy Reddan free and a superb Eddie Bourke score but with Cian Dillon being given the freedom of O’Garney Park, Crusheen landed the next five scores in succession which included a 100 plus yard monster point out on the touchline from Conor O’Donnell. To their credit Smith O’Briens reacted to Cian Dillon’s dominance by placing a man directly on him and suddenly they came roaring back into the contest.

Donal Tuohy was then called into action making a point blank save from David O’Shea after a terrific run and offload by centre forward Keith Stritch. At this point Crusheen led 10 points to three but with the Killaloe men now going man to man they hit three of the last four to trail at half time on a scoreline of 0-11 to 0-6.

The second half though was probably Crusheen’s best thirty minutes of the last two years. They completely took over from the start and within minutes Oisin O’Donnell plucked the sliotar from the heavens before turning on the afterburners leaving defenders in his wake and blasting home past Mark McInerney.

The sides did trade scores for a period with Tommy Reddan scoring a touchline beauty but from the forty fifth minute on Crusheen were simply sensational scoring 1-6 without reply. The goal a superb team move which freed up Cillein Mullins who bore down on goal firing a bullet that Mark McInerney did tremendously well to save only for Ross Hayes to pull first time on the rebound into the net and in tennis parlance it was game set and match.

A huge victory for Crusheen which will now see them continue their season in Senior B competition while for the East Clare side coached by Tony Gleeson, it’s the horrible scenario of a one off game to retain their senior status.

Best for the winners were Cian Dillon and the O’Donnell’s Oisin and Conor while Tommy Reddan and Cian Nolan performed best for the Killaloe outfit.

Scorers for Crusheen: Oisin O’Donnell 1-4, Ross Hayes 1-4(3f), Jamie Firzgibbon 0-4, Conor O’Donnell 0-3, Ian O’Brien 0-2, Cian Dillon, Diarmuid Mullins, Gerry O’Grady 0-1 apiece

Scorers for Smith O’Briens: Tommy Reddan 0-8(6f), Eddie Bourke, David O’Shea, Marc O’Halloran, David Gough, Jason Monaghan 0-1 apiece

CRUSHEEN
1: Donal Tuohy

2: Tadgh Dean
3: Cian Dillon
4: Mark Perill

5: Diarmuid Mullins
6: Eanna McMahon
7: Ross Hayes

8: Cilléin Mullins
23: Cathal Dillon

10: Oisin O’Donnell
11: Jamie Fitzgibbon
18: Fergus Kennedy

13: Conor O’Donnell
14: Gerry O’Grady
20: Ian O’Brien

SMITH O’BRIENS
1: Mark McInerney

2: Cian Maloney
3: David Gough
4: Mark Stritch

5: Cian Nolan
6: Eddie Bourke
7: Dwane Sheedy

8: Mìcheàl Ryan
9: Tommy Reddan

10: Marc O’Halloran
11: Keith Stritch
12: Patrick Aherne

21: Mikey Gough
14: Mikey O’Shea
15: David O’Shea

Subs;

Referee: Kevin Corry (Sixmilebridge)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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