The west Cork boys stamped their authority from the throw-in and on this evidence, it will be difficult to dethrone them in the final on Saturday, April 9 in Croke Park.
Admittedly, Athenry were forced to field an understrength team due to another sporting commitment, but even with a full selection, they would have struggled to beat the All-Ireland champions who oozed confidence all over the field.
Clon’s pace and finish was exceptional and the potency of their attack can be gauged by the fact that all but 1-1 of their tally came from play.
Clonakilty had a number of outstanding players throughout the field.
Jeremy Ryan was a commanding centre-back; Kevin Cormican and Eoin Hartnett dominated at midfield, but it was up front where the champions ruled supreme.
Gearóid Barry was umarkable at centre-forward with Cillian Cullinane on his right equally impressive. Barry began the Clon scoring with three points in-a-row inside the opening four minutes, and it was clear Athenry were in for testing day. It was 0-8 to 0-2 at the end of the opening quarter before Colm Mannion gave the Galway side hope with a goal. But Clonakilty hit back with a brace themselves, both superb efforts by Eoin Hartnett and Martin O’Donovan to lead 2-11 to 1-2 at the interval.
The second-half was a mere formality for Clon as the scores continued to flow. The impressive Gearóid Barry slotted home a goal from a penalty seconds after the resumption, Fiachra O’Connell and James Hayes added numbers four and five.
The West Cork school made five substitutions but it made little difference as they held sway all over the field.
Scorers for Clonakilty: G. Barry (1-0 pen.) E. Hartnett, F. O’Connell 1-3 each; M. O’Donovan, J. Hayes 1-1 each; C. Cullinane 0-4 (0-1 free); J. Ryan, A. O’Donovan, F. Butler, C. Hennessy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Athenry: C. Mannion 1-0; C. Kennedy 0-3 (0-2 frees); B. Melia, M. Hession (free) 0-1 each.
CLONAKILTY CC: A. Collins; F. Butler, D. Nyhan, J. Barrett; C. Hennessy, J. Ryan, G. O’Brien; K. Cormican, E. Hartnett; C. Cullinane, G. Barry, F. O’Connell; M. O’Donovan, J. Hayes, A. O’Donovan.
Subs: S. Sheehan for Nyhan (half time); S. White for O’Donovan (35); D. McCarthy for Barry (35); S. McCarthy for Cormican (37); G. Kirby for Collins (50).
ATHENRY VS: J. Joyce; M. Burker, K. Killilea, C. Lane; S. Linnane, D. Maher, P. Prendergast; P. Flaherty, N. Rooney; C. Kennedy, M. Hession, B. Melia; C. Mannion, D. Murphy, L. McHugh.
Subs: E. Roche for Murphy (half time); C. Dolan for Mannion (45); J. Connolly for McHugh (55).
Referee: M. Meade (Limerick).