Thomas McCurtains: 3-12
Sean Treacy’s B: 2-4
by Fiona O’Brien
An inspired opening quarter for Thomas McCurtains ensured their place in the finals of the Intermediate Hurling Championship, after they held their opponents from scoring for almost half an hour.
Within five minutes, the Essex based team were a goal and four points up due to brilliant team work from play, with Philip Murphy securing the opener for his side within two minutes.
Anthony Higgins doubled their lead soon after before the man of the match Conor Hogan took his first goal from the most powerful of long range strikes.
McCurtains were certainly the hungrier in this semi-final clash, and were leaving nothing to chance following the second half comeback their final opponents Cu Chullains showed in the earlier semi-final. Immediatley afterwards Higgins doubled up with corner forward Ollie Delaney with his back to goal to give their side a 1-3 lead.
With the half-forward line doing a superb job, Sean Murphy was under no pressure when stepping up for frees and successfully got two either side of a Sean Costelloe point from play, giving his side a now monstrous 1-7 lead.
Sean Treacy’s had struggled to barely gain territory in McCurtains’ half until they brought on substitute Rob Healy on 25 minutes. The replacement made an almost immediate impact, scoring two goals within 90 seconds to bridge the gap to only four points, which was not reflective of the run of play at all.
Murphy stepped up for another free, before Costelloe secured his second point, but Healy was on hand again, twisting and turning between the defensive sandwich he was caught in, bringing the half-time deficit to just five.
Just before the half-time whistle was due, Damian Power and Paul Doyle were both given their marching orders for striking each other with the hurls in an off the ball incident.
Although there was a bit more space in the second half, it was not as lively an opening that was seen in the first, as it took ten minutes for the first score, courtesy of yet another Murphy free.
Super sub Healy responded with a finely struck free of his own, and was still the only player to score for his side who now laid on 2-2.
McCurtains were not playing as fluidly as they had been in the first half, but were proving extremely efficient in ensuring no comeback from their South London opposition.
It was another ten minutes before either side scored again, but it was well worth the wait as half-forward Hogan who had dominated the battle against his opposite number, opened up the defence, making space for himself to blast the ball between three bodies and beyond the reach of Mick Walsh.
The game was done and dusted at this stage as Treacy’s looked no threat, and Murphy and Hogan picked up another couple of points before the latter secured his well-deserved hat-trick that marked the final nail in the coffin.
It required another Treacy’s substitute, in the form of Noel Murtagh, to pick up a consolation point just before the final whistle to give his side a respectable 2-5 total tally.
Thomas McCurtains’ performance was ultimately clincial, bursting out of the blocks to ensure a lead but then bode their time until the final whistle so as not to exert themselves too much for Cu Chullains who await them in the final.
Thomas McCurtains: Dave Enright, Dameon Power, Keiran Dowling, Craig Doyle, Sean Murphy (0-5, 4 frees), Brian Ryan, Dean Corrigan, Philip Murphy (0-1), Eoghan Caldwell, Anthony Higgins (0-1), Sean Costelloe (0-3), Conor Hogan (3-1), Maurice Somers, Shane Kelly, Ollie Delaney (0-1) Subs: Kenny Fitzmaurice for Power, Conor Nagle, Conor Curtain
Sean Treacy’s: Mick Walsh, Greg Harkin, Shane Kennedy, Niall Murphy, Liam Barron, Keith Murphy, Seamus Humphreys, Aidan Webster, Donal Dunne, Eamon Skehill, Paul Doyle, John Murphy, Maurice Geary, Steve Casey, Tom Fitzgerald Subs: Robbie Healy (2-3, 1 free) for Geary, Noel Murtagh (0-1) for Casey, Kieran Tobin for Dunne, Jimmy Cormack for Fitzgerald