Despite getting the game's first two points through a Vaughan free and one from Fergus Kenneally, Crusheen soon found themselves behind as Carrig reeled off four points in quick succession, Niall McCarthy with the best of them in the 13th minute. And when Crusheen pulled level, Carrig once again pushed ahead, McCarthy, Stephen Dineen and Liam O'Sullivan on target to make it 0-7 to 0-4 by the 20th minute.
The only real goal chance of the half came five minutes later, as Brian Lordan found Tomas Hogan, who evaded the clutches of three Crusheen defenders, but while he struck his shot well, Donal Touhy pulled off a good save and cleared before any Carrig attackers could follow up.
A long-range Vaughan free left just the two points in it at half-time and, with a greater experience of this stage of the competition, they played better hurling in the second halfAt the end of a fairly even first half, Carrigtwohill led by two points (0-8 to 0-6), but given that the home side had played with the aid of a stiff breeze, it wasn’t much of a cushion.
After the break, and with those bitter memories of last year driving them on, it was Crusheen taking charge and Carrigtwohill had no answer. Three points in four minutes, one each from Gearoid O’Donnell, free-taker Pat Vaughan and Patrick Meaney, was interrupted briefly with a point from Carrigtwohill’s Michael Fitzgerald (dangerous throughout), but that was all it was, brief interruption. Another three unanswered points in four minutes, then four more on the trot, and with only 12 minutes left on the clock, the game was out of sight for Carrig, 0-16 to 0-9 behind.
They kept fighting, and had a chance in the 42nd minute but Touhy had again come to Crusheen’s rescue, a close-range save from Fitzgerald, and full-back Cronan Dillon saved likewise from midfielder David O’Mahony in the 57th minute. Carrigtwohill did finally manage a goal, in the 60th minute, a combination from two of their best attackers, county star Niall McCarthy (three fine points in the hour) lobbing to Fitzgerald who finished with authority. Too little, however, and of course too late.
A good game overall, fine defence from both sides. The Carrig inside line was magnificent, Crusheen never even getting a sniff of Liam McCarthy’s goal, centre-back Noel Furlong also starring, but the Cian Dillon-led Crusheen defence was absolutely suffocating. And yet we also witnessed some outstanding points, McCarthy and Fitzgerald individually for Carrig, a succession of superb team points by Crusheen, former Clare star David Forde pulling the strings.
"A good, hard, tough game," reckoned Browne. "Obviously the opposition was very strong and we were concerned about what they’d do in the second half, but our backs were tremendous. I was a small bit critical of them at half-time, but there’s no criticism of them now."
Scorers for Crusheen: P Vaughan 0-6 (0-5f, 1 ‘65’); P Meaney 0-3; D Forde 0-3; J Fitzgibbon 0-3; F Kennedy, G O’Grady, G O’Donnell, A Brigdale, 0-1 each.
Carrigtwohill: M Fitzgerald 1-3 (0-2f); N McCarthy 0-3; S Dineen, T Hogan, B Lordan, L O’Sullivan, 0-1 each.
CARRIGTWOHILL: L McCarthy; P O’Sullivan, R Power, M Foley; C O’Connell, N Furlong, M O’Riordan; D O’Mahony, L O’Sullivan; S Dineen; T Hogan, N McCarthy; B Lordan (c), R White, M Fitzgerald. Subs: A Gosnell (Foley 39); S O’Farrell (Hogan 44); S Kidney (Lordan 57).
CRUSHEEN: D Touhy; J Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, A Brigdale; C O’Doherty, Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon; P Vaughan, J Meaney, G O’Donnell, J Fitzgibbon, D Forde; P Meaney, G O’Grady (c), F Kennedy. Subs: C O’Donnell (Kennedy 46); T Meaney (Forde 60).
Referee: J Ryan (Tipperary).