Classy Charleville hold all the aces
Lixnaw 0-11 Charleville 1-17
A MUCH sharper Charleville combination firmly put paid to Lixnaw’s brave challenge in the semi-final of the Munster Intermediate Hurling Championship at Hermitage Park last Saturday afternoon.
A lively start and a four point lead 0-5 0-1 after just ten minutes suggested that Lixnaw, playing with the advantage of a strong breeze might well have the capability to shade the verdict, but once Charleville got into their stride and overhauled the deficit to go in ahead 0-9 1-7 at the half-time break the final outcome was firmly pointing in favour of the visitors.
For a period in the second half Lixnaw maintained parity, but Charleville utilising a combination of pace and some penetrating runs, combined for a series of unanswered scores and as the encounter progressed to its inevitable conclusion they exerted a firm grip in all sectors.
Certainly there was no lack of effort or endeavour on the part of Lixnaw, but in terms of the overall quality of their hurling Charleville were the superior side. Already without a number of regulars Lixnaw’s chances were dealt with another severe blow during the week with the withdrawal through injury of their influential midfielder John Griffin.
He would, most likely, have been entrusted with the task of curbing Charleville’s All Star midfielder Darragh Fitzgibbon, a player, who ultimately played a significant role in his side’s success.
Points from Shane Conway (free) and Colin Sheehy afforded Lixnaw the perfect start inside the opening three minutes of play, but there was also some early signs at the other end of the pitch that Charleville had the capability to open up different lanes of attack with Tim Hawe being denied of what looked like being a certain goal by a brilliant stop at point blank range from Martin Stackpoole.
Charleville initially shot three successive wides, before John Buckley, who put in a huge shift throughout, increased Lixnaw’s lead with a magnificent effort from way out on the sideline in the seventh minute.
Adopting a measured build up with the hand pass, a key component, Charleville got on the scoreboard in the ninth minute, when Darragh Fitzgibbon pointed for them. He was also on target with a pointed free in the fifteenth minute, but by that stage, at the end of the opening quarter Lixnaw were still in front, 0-6 0-3 with Shane Conway having added three more points to their scoring tally.
However, a lack of concentration in defence allowed Kevin O’Connor to strike, for what ultimately proved to be a crucial goal in the sixteenth minute. It was a score which injected a lot of momentum into Charleville’s challenge, resulting in they being in front by that particular goal 1-7 0-7 by the twentieth minute.
It owed much to the level of their combination play, and, the defensive input of such as Darren Butler and Jack Buckley, both of whom were pivotal figures in their rearguard unit.
For a period, Lixnaw struggled, due to a tendency at times to deliberate too much when in possession, but with Shane Conway converting two pointed frees in the final two minutes of the half it reduced the deficit to the bare minimum 0-9 1-7 at the interval break.
Given the advantage which the elements would bring in the second half Charleville were largely in pole position at this particular juncture. Lixnaw needed to dig deep in their efforts to stay within striking distance and they started the second half with admirable intensity with Ricky Heffernan now positioned on the forty winning a lot of primary possession.
However, Charleville’s swarm defence meant that Lixnaw found it difficult to make progress in attacking situations and the ability of the Cork side to benefit from players supporting the ball carrier off the shoulder and providing time and space with players overlapping in numbers meant that they created more clear cut scoring opportunities, with their corner-back Finbar Cagney operating beyond halfway opening their second half account.
A brace of pointed frees from Shane Conway meant that the encounter was deadlocked 0-11 1-8 within eight minutes of the resumption and, with Michael Quilter effecting some fine fetches in defence, Lixnaw maintained a strong challenge for a period, with their defence being particularly resolute and compact.
However, Darragh Fitzgibbon, resourceful and influential, stepped up a gear and with Mark Kavanagh being productive from placed balls, Charleville were four points in front 1-12 0-11 going into the fourth and final quarter.
Lixnaw needed a goal to salvage the situation, but it never looked like materialising, even if, John Buckley on route to goal with a surging run was taken down, with a yellow card being the penalty for the transgression.
With more gas in the tank and yards in the legs, Charleville, ultimately cruised to a pretty comfortable and fully deserved victory. On the day, Shane Conway was somewhat short of his very best even if intermittently, he effected some trademark touches.
Once again, he lacked support in the scoring stakes and essentially that was one of the factors which determined the final outcome, with five of Charleville’s forwards scoring from play.
The loss of so many key players ultimately made Lixnaw’s task doubly difficult, but their season will obviously be remembered as one to savour, given that their ninth County Championship crown rests in the village after a break of four years.
LIXNAW: Martin Stackpoole, Michael Quilter, Stephen Power, Declan Mc Carthy, Ger Stackpoole, Darragh Shanahan, Pat Corridan, Brian Mc Auliffe, Brendan Brosnan (0-1), Shane Mc Elligott, John Buckley (0-1), Raymond Galvin, Shane Conway, (0-8 0-7 frees), Ricky Heffernan, Colin Sheehy (0-1) Subs: Jason Wallace for S McElligott (blood), Jeremy McKenna for R Galvin, Shane McElligott for C Sheehy, Michael Conway for B Brosnan, Jamie Galvin for J Wallace, Jonathon Silles for D McCarthy
CHARLEVILLE: Cian Collins. Darren Butler, Jack Meade, Finbar Cagney (0-1), Alan Dennehy, Jack Buckley, Cathal Carroll, Jack O Callaghan, Darragh Fitzgibbon (0-6 0-2 frees), Kevin O Connor (1-0) Jack Doyle (0-2), Mark Kavanagh (0-5 0-4 frees), Andrew Cagney (0-1), Conor Buckley (0-2), Tim Hawe Subs: Darren Casey for T Hawe, PJ Copps for C Buckley, James Kennedy for J Doyle, Kieran Cagney for A Cagney, David Sheehan for D Fitzgibbon
REFEREE: Rory McGann (Clare)