When it came to the test though it was Grenagh who produced the goods, recovering from a poor first-half display to see off a plucky Clonakilty side with a show of strength in the second period to reach their first final for 46 years.
No question fancied Grenagh looked in big trouble at the break when trailing 0-9 to 0-7. And Clonakilty, coping better with the heavy conditions, deserved their lead, never letting Grenagh get a foothold, with Denis Murphy razor sharp with his free-taking, scoring seven points. But a right interval rollicking from Grenagh selector Anthony Kenny and coach Brendan O’Driscoll had the
desired effect for Clonakilty were held to just two second-half points as the winners upped the anti big time to reach their first final since 1958 when they were beaten by Ballymartle after a replay.
Said Kenny: “Yes we used some strong words at the break, we certainly weren’t playing well enough and needed to lift it. We had to take the game to them and, fair play to the lads, they did their job. l was pleased with our second-half show, it won the game for us.”
Indeed it did. But it was a different story in the opening half when Clon stunned Grenagh with their tight marking and no nonsense hurling which left the Mid Cork champions foraging for scores. Clon were two points clear inside five minutes thanks to Murphy’s accuracy and although Adrian O’Neill replied for Grenagh, Murphy continued to punish them. And with Keith Kennedy adding a point from play the Carbery holders led 0-5 to 0-1 after 10 minutes.
Stung into action Grenagh responded, and they needed to. Diarmuid Dorgan, who had a terrific second-half, pointed a free, O’Neill followed with a great point, then Donal Daly and after the opening quarter it was 0-5 to 0-4 to Clon.
When the nippy Dean Dalton levelled matters in the 17th minute and Daly put them ahead three minutes later it was odds on a Grenagh takeover. But with Brian O’Sullivan excellent in defence, Timmy Anglin and Andrew McCarthy doing well at midfield and a hard working half forward line keeping the Grenagh half backs busy, Clon were well up for the challenge, Murphy’s accuracy earning them that deserved two point half-time lead.
But in the opening five minutes to the second-half Grenagh did some real damage and the game was won and lost. First Cillian Kenny, far happier at midfield, pointed. Then Dalton wormed his way through the Clon defence for the only goal of the game and a takeover was on the way. Dorgan followed with a free and now winning the breaking ball and working much harder Clon were in big trouble. Tom Kenny got more room to manoeuvre at centre-back, but it was Diarmuid Dorgan who stole the second-half show. His capacity for hard work and his accuracy from frees had the Clon defence on overtime as Grenagh led 1-11 to 0-10 entering the final quarter.
Dorgan continued to fire over the frees in the final 15 minutes and with Gerry Russell also rowing in with a point Grenagh, who meet Ballygarvan or Kilbrin in the final, were on their way. Clon’s lone two points from Murphy’s places balls simply wasn’t enough. Nevertheless. a good learning experience for the West Corkmen.
Scorers for Grenagh: D. Dorgan 0-7 (0-4 frees, 0-1 ‘65), D. Dalton 1-1, A. O’Neill, D. Daly, G. Russell 0-2 each, C. Kenny 0-1.
Clonakilty: D. Murphy 0-9 (0-5 frees, 0-1 ‘65), K. Kennedy, M. Nolan 0-1 each.
GRENAGH: M. Barry; Colin Kenny, M. Kenny, E. Ryan; M. Lehane, Cillian Kenny, J. O’Neill; T. Kenny, J. Russell; D. Dorgan, G. Russell, A O’Neill; D. Dalton, S. Coleman, D. Daly. Subs: Donal Dorgan for Ryan, P. McDonnell for Coleman, S. Dorgan for Daly.
CLONAKILTY: J. O’Donovan; J.P. Forristal, M. Harrington, D. Harrington; J.K. McCarthy, Tony Anglin, B. O’Sullivan; Timmy Anglin, A. McCarthy; O. Crowley, M. Nolan, D. Murphy; J. Forristal, B. Daly, K. Kennedy. Subs: P. O’Regan for Nolan, M.P. O’Regan for J.K. McCarthy, L. Ryan for T. Anglin.
Referee: D. Farrell (Mitchelstown).