By Michael O Connor.
Finally Inagh/Kilnamona have won a place in the last four of the Canon Hamilton title race. A goal fest served up by the Inagh/Kilnamona forwards ably prepared by the Crusheen defence who could not handle the aerial supremacy of Cathal Lafferty and the first touch of Niall Arthur.
It was an open secret that Inagh/Kilnamona were out to test the heard of the Crusheen defence and this they direct bypassing Cian Dillon. The end result was in doubt to the final seconds but Crusheen had chances yet Inagh/Kilnamona could score easier as Crusheen depended on Pat Vaughan for scores from placed balls.
Crusheen started the game in the manner of reigning champions with two Pat Vaughan frees and a well taken David Forde score to race into a three point lead after only three minutes. Inagh/Kilnamona who looked to be at sea early on got really in the game thanks to a series of errors in the Crusheen defence as Cathal Lafferty and Conor Tierney set up Niall Arthur for a ground pull that evaded Donal Touhy. Joe Meaney responded with a point a minute later before Niall Arthur hit back with a like score as the Crusheen full back line were in early difficulties collectively. Cathal Lafferty was drifting out leaving Cronan Dillon with a decision to stay or go with Niall Arthur on his own with Alan Brigdale who after causing the error for the second goal scored by Lafferty was switched over on Conor Tierney. Having been three down in the 4th minute Inagh/Kilnamona were now three ahead by the 8th. At the end of the first quarter Inagh/Kilnamona were two points to the good (2-3) to (0-7) as Joe Meaney and Eoin Vaughan were on the scoresheet. Crusheen dragged themselves back into the lead with scores from Vaughan (2 frees and 1 65) and Fergus Kennedy to restore a three point lead as the see saw nature of proceedings was not from the ideal defensive manuals. Just when it appeared the Inagh/Kilnamona had wilted against the Crusheen revivial they struck back for two vital late first half scores as Niall Arthur and Conor Tierney hit the spot to leave the winners (0-12) to (2-5) in arrears facing into the second half.
Supporters of both sides had differing views at the break with each saying the other side were going to win. The concession of goals by Crusheen was most unusual and if it continued they would be out was the most common assertion. Pat Vaughan gave Crusheen a two point lead before Cathal Lafferty took the game by the throat. Firstly he caught the ball and with Conor Tierney too fast for Cathal Dillon ghosting in behind everyone doubled with accuracy Lafferty’s handpass to the roof of the Crusheen net. Seconds later the next high ball sent in by Inagh/Kilnamona was caught by Lafferty and evading two hit low and hard past Donal Touhy for the game’s fourth goal.
Normally this should have sunk any opposition but worryingly for Inagh/Kilnamona they allowed Crusheen to respond and with some luck and accuracy Crusheen could have gone on to win the game. The next score amazingly was another goal as Jamie Fitzgibbon struck low and hard and it skimmed in off Pat Kelly’s hurley. The game was once again back to only the minimum between the sides as mistakes that were made by both sides were being punished with conviction. In the last ten minutes the sides were on level terms no less than four times. Fergus Kennedy, Pat Vaughan and Niall Arthur exchanged scores by the 47th minute before a brace apiece from Niall Arthur and Pat Vaughan all frees once more had the sides deadlocked on (4-8) to (1-17) with seven minutes left in the game. Having no subs of real quality cost Crusheen as they were in dire need of fresh legs in the forwards and a few wrong moves let Inagh/Kilnamona off the hook. Shane Griffin introduced for an injured Ger Arthur sent Inagh/Kilnamona into the lead and despite four more forays upfield by Crusheen no score materialised. The insurance score for the winners came deep into injury time when Niall Arthur put the ball over from a free and Crusheen’s reign ended and the promise showed by Inagh/Kilnamona in 2006, 2007 and 2008 at underage is now beginning to show.
Inagh/Kilnamona now move on and wait for the winners of the Kilmaley/Cratloe replay that may surprisingly might be Kilmaley’s day. Ken Ralph’s men on this day had good performances from the excellent Jamie Davin, Damian Lafferty, Ronan O Looney, Dermot Lynch, Niall Arthur, Cathal Lafferty who was man of the hour and Conor Tierney. Crusheen had solid displays from Cian Dillon in the second half, Pat Vaughan, Cathal Dillon, Gearoid O Donnell, Ciaran O Doherty and Gerry O Grady early on.
CRUSHEEN: Donal Touhy, John Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, Alan Brigdale, Ciaran O Doherty (0-1), Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon, Patrick Vaughan (0-11), Gearoid O Donnell, Fergus Kennedy (0-2), Jamie Fitzgibbon (1-0), Joe Meaney (0-2), David Forde (0-1), Gerard O Grady, Patrick Meaney. Subs: Conor O Loughlin for Meaney
INAGH/KILNAMONA: Pat Kelly, Dermot Lynch, Jamie Davin, Milo Keane, Damien Lafferty, Ronan O Looney, Brian Glynn, Haulie Vaughan, Tomas Kelly, Gerry Arthur, Eamonn Glynn, Eoin Vaughan (0-1), Conor Tierney (1-1), Cathal Lafferty (2-0), Niall Arthur (1-7). Subs: Shane Griffin (0-1) for G Arthur (inj), David Hegarty for Haulie Vaughan
REFEREE: Rory Hickey (Eire-og)