By Martin Mannering
No quarter was given or asked as both sides tore into each other across the Old Bedians turf left in a slippery condition after the early morning rain.
Lancashire made the brighter start and went two points up in as many minutes from a Ronan Crowley free after a foul on Stephen Duncan and a fine effort from the left wing by Aiden Slattery.
Warwickshire’s scorer in chief Shane Caulfield soon got his side off the mark only to see Crowley match his effort at the other end.
The early exchanges were hectic but gradually Warwickshire began to impose themselves and it was noticeable that they were winning most of the fifty-fifty challenges although having said that there were many sterling performances among the home side.
Caulfield fired over two frees and added one from play to put his side in front by the twelfth minute while Lancs struggled for scores against a resolute defence.
A quarter of an hour in John Collins may have considered himself fortunate to escape with a yellow card for a wild challenge on Ronan Crowley but it was the only abberation on an otherwise masterful display from the Warwickshire full back.
The knock clearly had an effect on the Corkman as he drove the resulting free wide. Indeed he struggled with his radar for the rest of the match as he went on to miss a number of chances that has been scoring for fun all season.
Shane Caulfield was having no such problems at the other end and added two more frees but Lancashire rallied and were soon back on level terms.
Seamus Richardson picked out Aiden Slattery with a peach of a pass and the Clare man was brought to ground as he went for goal. Michael Cremlin went the right way but couldn’t keep Crowley’s penalty out of the net. Joe Meagher and Crowley exchanged points before the break to go in on a 1-4 to 0-7 scoreline.
On the restart Caulfield picked up where he had left off by firing over from the left wing and just four minutes in came the decisive score.
The winners first line of defence was their forward line as continued pressure was forcing the home defence into hurried clearances.
When Shane Sexton attempted to clear his lines John Reddan got in a superb block and won the ensuing battle for possession to strike the sliothar to the net. Crowley pulled one back for the hosts but Ian Dwyer and Emmet McCabe pushed the gap to five.
Another Crowley free and a fine effort from Seamus Richardson brought it back to three but it was as close as Lancs were to get. Their play was hurried and they racked up the wides tally while Warwickshire were composure personified.
Emmet McCabe and Ian Dwyer scored two excellent points either side of two Caulfield frees over the next twenty minutes, a period where the losers failed to register.
Over the bar
Two points from Nathan Unwin and Sean Power near the end gave them a glimmer but Caulfield kept them at bay with a cracking score from his own half. Lancashire’s day was summed up when Crowley’s second penalty of the day flew over the bar in the last minute of injury time.
Warwickshire will head for Croke Park full of confidence and they look more than well equipped to see the job done and claim the title. Lancashire can meanwhile look back on the campaign with much satisfaction, they gained their first ever wins in the competition and were fully competitive in all their matches.
WARWICKSHIRE: Michael Cremlin, Dean Bruen, Tom Kelly, Michael O Regan, Kieran Boxwell, Paul Hobin, Donnacha Kennedy, Emmet McCabe (0-2), John Collins, Chris Convery, Shane Caulfield (0-10,7f), John Reddin(1-0), Colm McBride, Joe Meagher (0-1), Ian Dwyer (0-2) SUBS: Seamus Brough for Tom Kelly, Padraic Crehan for John Reddin, Robbie Curley for Kieran Boxwell, Ronan O Donoghue for Colm McBride.
LANCASHIRE: Vincent Morrissey, Liam Knocker, Colm Larkin, Justin Clere, Shane Sexton, Greg Jacob, Nathan Unwin(0-1), Thomas Duane, David Cahalane, Daragh O Brien, Stephen Duncan, Ronan Crowley (1-6,5f), Seamus Richardson (0-1), Daire Maskey, Aiden Slattery (0-1), SUBS: Sean Power (0-1) for Aiden Slattery, Damian O Grady for Daire Maskey Patrick Coates for Thomas Duane, Feargail McKillop for Liam Knocker, Mark Potgeiter for Seamus Richardson.