Clinical Carrig march on
OUSTED by eventual champions Courcey Rovers in a quarter-final replay last year, Carrigaline served notice that they are ready to make another bold bid for county premier intermediate hurling championship glory with this victory over their South East neighbours Tracton at Pairc Uí Rinn on Sunday evening.
Carrigaline were nine points to the good at the finish, and the fact that they were forced to operate with just 14 players for almost the entire game made their achievement all the more laudable.
Shortly after the ball was thrown in, Carrigaline lost their centre-back Peter Murphy, who was issued with a straight red card following a wild pull on Tracton midfielder Kieran Lynch. It left them facing a severe test of character from the outset.
They rose to the challenge in great style, however, and after slugging it out with Tracton in the first half, they came up with most of the answers after the interval when Rob O'Shea and, especially, Simon O'Brien were key figures as they powered home.
In the absence of regular centre-back Joe Moran due to injury, Carrigaline drafted Daniel Bagnell in at midfield, with Peter Murphy going from there to deputise for Moran in the pivotal berth.
Murphy's dismissal meant they had to restructure the team again, with Bagnell going to right-half back, Conor Hurley moving to the centre, and corner-forward Rob O'Shea teaming up with Kevin Kavanagh at midfield.
The reshuffle worked a treat, not least because of the impact made by Hurley and O'Shea in their new roles, as the former put the shackles on Tracton's ace forward Micheal O'Sullivan, who was limited to just a single point over the hour.
O'Shea, for his part, was always in the thick of the action at midfield where Kevin Kavanagh also made his presence felt, particularly in the second half.
Predictably, Carrigaline's depleted attack found the going tough in the first-half when Billy Lynch filled the role of the extra-man for Tracton to good effect, but the steadiness of the winners' defence, which hadn't a weak link, ensured that the Minane Bridge men found it equally difficult to penetrate.
Only wing-forward Joe Kingston measured up in attack for Tracton before the break, and his enforced departure through injury nine minutes into the second half was obviously a setback for the losers.
At that stage, however, Carrigaline were already beginning to build up a bit of steam, having fired over three points on the trot to move 0-10 to 0-7 ahead before Simon O'Brien stretched the gap to four in the 43rd minute.
O'Brien went on to notch two more points, as well as combining with Stephen Corcoran to create the opening for another, possibly the best score of the match, from David Drake, and he was a constant threat at full-forward in the second-half.
Others to shine up front were Drake and Stephen Corcoran, who effectively settled the issue when he latched on to a long delivery from Conor Hurley to shoot a stunning goal and make it 1-14 to 0-10 in the 56th minute. Corcoran and Rob O'Shea embellished Carrigaline's victory with a couple of sublime points before the finish, and, in the final analysis, they weren't unduly flattered by their eventual winning margin.
The teams looked evenly matched in the first half when there was never more than two points between them at any stage.
Carrigaline led by 0-5 to 0-3 after 14 minutes, but Tracton drew level again through scores from Kieran Lynch, who had a good first half at midfield, and Joe Kingston before ace free-taker Ronan Walsh nudged them in front for the first time with five minutes to the interval.
It was a case of tit-for-tat after that, but, with the sides tied at 0-7 apiece, Tracton almost made a telling breakthrough when Joe Kingston had an effort for a goal charged down by Conor Hurley in stoppage time.
Carrigaline were very much the dominant side in the second half, however, when such as Robert Cronin, Billy Lynch and John Kingston tired hardest at the back to stem the tide for Tracton.
It was all to no avail as Carrigaline, with O'Shea and Kavanagh powering the forward from midfield, and Simon O'Brien pulling most of the strings up front, steadily pulled clear before Ronan Walsh broke Tracton's second half duck from a free in the 46th minute.
A tight rein
It's testimony to Tracton's limitations in attack - where Micheal O'Sullivan, switched to full-forward before half-time, was again kept on a tight rein by Carrigaline's rock-solid number three, Gary Harrington - that they had to wait until the 52nd minute to register their only second-half score from play, courtesy of corner-forward Gearoid Kingston.
That brought them back within striking range, 0-13 to 0-10, but the irrepressible Simon O'Brien quickly replied with a point for Carrigaline, and it was hard to visualise Tracton salvaging the game after Ronan Walsh had an effort for a goal from a close-in free foiled inside the last five minutes.
Stephen Corcoran's splendid strike soon followed to remove any lingering doubts about the outcome.
Scorers - Carrigaline: R O'Shea, 0-7, 0-6 frees, S Corcoran 1-2, S O'Brien 0-4, D Drake 0-3. Tracton: R Walsh 0-5 frees, Joe Kingston 0-2, M O'Sullivan, K Lynch, G Kingston 0-1 each
Carrigaline: B Irwin; C McSweeney, G Harrington, G Dillon; C Hurley, P Murphy, C Barry; D Bagnell, K Kavanagh; D Drake, T Murphy, N Coakley; S Corcoran, S O'Brien, R O'Shea.
Sub used: B Scanlon for Coakley.
Tracton: D Walsh; M Barry, K Corrigan, C McGuinness; R Cronin, B Lynch, John Kingston; K Lynch, C Lordan; Joe Kingston, M O'Sullivan, S O'Sullivan; R Walsh, D O'Callaghan, G Kingston.
Sub used: J Harrington for Joe Kingston (inj), J McGuinness for S O'Sullivan.
Referee: C Lane, Banteer.
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