*Fergal Lynch goaled in the opening half. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Clooney-Quin are on the brink of consolidating their senior hurling status after completing back-to-back relegation group wins with a commanding victory over Crusheen in Shannon this afternoon.
Both sides had edged their opening bouts, ensuring that one perfect record had to fall and thanks to timely first half goals through Peter Duggan and Fergal Lynch, it was Clooney/Quin who snatched the whip hand to eventually carve out a 13 point cushion by the two-thirds mark.
Crusheen did rally, ignited by a Breffni Horner goal just before the final water break. However, five points was as close as they would get to Clooney/Quin who finished with four of the last five points to cement a spirited victory.
Off the back of a storming finish to pip Clarecastle to the post at the same venue a week earlier, Clooney/Quin only gathered further momentum to punish a stifled Crusheen who appeared much more leggy in their second outing in eight days.
Once Clooney/Quin hit the front for the first time in the eighth minute through a Peter Duggan free, they would never look back, with a further brace of placed balls bolstered by a goal just before the water break that saw the 2018 All-Star intercept possession and race through to give his side a 1-6 to 0-3 first quarter advantage.
It could have been more only for Mikey Corry to pass up two glorious goal chances before a long range Duggan free was added to by Fergal Lynch in the 27th minute to hand Clooney-Quin a 2-8 to 0-4 half-time advantage.
Despite the conditions to come, Crusheen continued to be frustrated on the restart as Peter Duggan converted four successive free while down the other end an instinctive Conor O’Donnell shot on the turn was excellently tipped away by goalkeeper Keith Hogan at 2-12 to 0-05 by the 38th minute.
O’Donnell did commence a more concerted fightback with three frees before succumbing to a back injury while Breffni Horner was teed up by Fergus Kennedy to round his marker and find the net just in time for the water recess at 2-13 to 1-8.
Already without injured free taker Ross Hayes, the additional loss of Conor O’Donnell would affect Crusheen’s accuracy from frees as the final quarter developed. Points from Fergus Kennedy, Horner and Ciaran O’Doherty lowered the arrears to five by the 55 minute. However, following a ten minute barren patch, Ryan Taylor finally got Clooney-Quin motoring once more with two points from the right wing bookending a four point unanswered burst that put the result beyond any doubt.
Despite a second win, it will take still a Clarecastle victory over O’Callaghan’s Mills next weekend to actually confirm Clooney/Quin’s safety as alternatively a win for last year’s finalists would leave everything up in the air ahead of a tense final round of matches.
Scorers for Clooney-Quin: Peter Duggan (1-9, 9f); Fergal Lynch (1-1); Ryan Taylor (0-3); Martin Duggan (0-2); Luke Harrison, John Conneally (0-1 each)
Scorers for Crusheen: Conor O’Donnell (0-6, 5f); Breffni Horner (1-2); Ciaran O’Doherty (0-3f); Fergus Kennedy (0-1)
1: Keith Hogan
4: Bryan McInerney
3: Shane McNamara
2: Donnchadh Murphy
5: John Conneally
6: Cillian Duggan
7: Darragh Keogh
8: Conor Harrison
9: Luke Harrison
10: Ryan Taylor
11: Peter Duggan
12: Martin Duggan
13: Dylan Cunningham
14: Fergal Lynch
15: Mikey Corry
19: Jimmy Corry for C. Harrison (12, inj)
26: Alan Culligan for M. Corry (56)
17: Donagh O’Sullivan for L. Harrison (61)
1: Donal Tuohy
2: Tadhg Dean
3: Eanna McMahon
4: Luke Hayes
5: Ciaran O’Doherty
6: Cian Dillon
7: John Brigdale
8: Cilléin Mullins
9: Oisin O’Donnell
10: Conor O’Donnell
11: Jamie Fitzgibbon
12: Fergus Kennedy
13: Luke Ketelaar
14: Gerry O’Grady
15: Breffni Horner
28: Cathal Dillon for Hayes (18)
24: Paddy Vaughan for Ketelaar (HT)
27: Diarmuid Mullins for Brigdale (HT)
25: Alan Tuohy for C. O’Donnell (46, inj)
Referee: Rory McGann (Newmarket-on-Fergus)