*Keelan Sexton. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A devastating 2-6 unanswered second half blitz ensured that Kilmurry Ibrickane maintained their unbeaten title defence and also their Indian sign over Cratloe in a compelling incident-packed showdown in Cusack Park.
Kilmurry Ibrickane 2-13
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
In what was the ‘Bricks fifth consecutive victory over their familiar foes, a brace of Keelan Sexton goals bookended a 16 minute rally of destruction that catapulted the champions 14 clear of a shell-shocked Cratloe entering the final ten minutes.
Amazingly, that handsome cushion would be slashed to just six before the finish but in truth, there was never any danger of Kilmurry Ibrickane easing their grip on Group 1.
With outrageous purple patches, 12 goal chances, a rescinded red card and even an extended half-time rumpus, anyone that thought that this repeat of last year’s final would be anything less than fiery hasn’t been following this gripping soap operatic rivalry over the past decade and beyond.
Indeed, while the scoring took time to build up, the tetchiness was abundantly clear from the outset. Level on three occasions by the 20th minute, a three point surge through Daniel Walsh, Keelan Sexton and Darragh Sexton helped Kilmurry Ibrickane to a 0-6 to 0-4 half-time lead before tensions were allowed to needlessly spill over long after the short whistle.
It added an extra edge to proceedings for the second period but after trading early points, that expectant bubble burst all too quickly after the holders punished a Cratloe error royally on the counter-attack in the 33rd minute.
Daniel Walsh offloaded to Keelan Sexton to weave through and find the net, a score that would lift Kilmurry Ibrickane to new heights and Cratloe to almost an all-time low over the next 15 minutes.
With Cratloe’s kick-out wiped out, everything the champions kicked appeared to go over as successive points from Daryn Callinan (2), Sexton (2), Enda Coughlan and Andrew Shannon ensured a 1-13 to 0-05 advantage by the final water break.
And if that wasn’t ruthless enough, Sexton was again at his poacher best to flick home a teasing Aidan McCarthy delivery on the resumption to ease 14 clear.
Remarkably, with the result beyond any doubt, the ‘Bricks alarmingly took their foot off the gas after that, with Cratloe creating six goal chances but only converting two for Podge Collins and Diarmuid Ryan.
It was merely damage limitation stuff for Cratloe after a 16 minute meltdown but fortunately they do have the chance to bounce back against Ennistymon in their final group outing in a month.
Kilmurry Ibrickane are already through to the quarter-finals with a game to spare but will want to keep up their unbeaten record despite a mounting injury list that saw Diarmuid King and Paudie Murrihy join Shane Hickey, Dermot Coughlan and Michael O’Dwyer on the treatment table ahead of their last group match against Cooraclare in a fortnight’s time.
Scorers for Kilmurry Ibrickane: Keelan Sexton (2-4, 3f); Daryn Callinan (0-3, 1f); Daniel Walsh, Enda Coughlan (0-2 each); Darragh Sexton, Andrew Shannon (0-1 each)
Scorers for Cratloe: Podge Collins, Diarmuid Ryan (1-1 each); Cathal McInerney (0-3, 2f); David Collins, Jack McInerney (0-1 each)
1: David Sexton
15: Martin McMahon
4: Mark Killeen
3: Darren Hickey
7: Daragh Sexton
6: Ciaran Morrissey
8: Diarmuid King
5: Daniel Walsh
9: Aidan McCarthy
12: Andrew Shannon
17: Paudie Murrihy
10: Joe Campbell
13: Keelan Sexton
14: Daryn Callinan
11: Enda Coughlan
18: Jason McCarthy for King (11, inj)
29: Darragh Pender for Murrihy (42, inj)
24: Colin Brigdale for Coughlan (50)
21: Evan Talty for Campbell (50)
1: Pierce DeLoughrey
4: Liam Markham
3: Kevin Harnett
2: David Collins
5: Martin ‘Oige’ Murphy
6: Michael Brennan
7: Enda Boyce
8: Conal O’Hanlon
9: Diarmuid Ryan
12: Shane Neville
11: Sean Collins
10: Rian Considine
13: Cathal McInerney
14: Conor McGrath
15: Podge Collins
22: Shane Gleeson for Neville (45)
20: Jack McInerney for McGrath (45)
21: Billy Sheehan for Considine (49)
18: Sean Hynan for Boyce (49)
17: Michael Hawes for Murphy (51)
Referee: Barry Keating (Lissycasey)