Two early second-half goals ended Kilmaley’s dream on a day when the Crusheen defence provided the foundation for victory. Cian Dillon was inspirational at centre-back while his brother Cathal and Ciarán O’Doherty kept the Kilmaley attack under wraps for long spells.
Kilmaley’s Dáire Keane opened the scoring after two minutes and the sides were level on four occasions before the break. But the champions hit a purple patch in the final stages and led by three points (0-9 to 0-6) at the interval.
Crusheen upped the gears on the restart. A Cian Dillon delivery fell to captain Gerry O’Grady who flicked the ball to Fergus Kennedy. The corner-forward made no mistake from close range and fired his team 1-9 to 0-7 in front.
Minutes later Jamie Fitzgibbon had Crusheen’s second goal and with it Kilmaley’s challenge evaporated.
In form, veteran David Forde added some inspirational points as Crusheen continued to turn the screw.
The All-Ireland medallist from 1997 hit five points over the hour and further fine scores from colleagues Paddy Vaughan and Gearóid O’Donnell completed the rout.
Scorers for Crusheen: P Vaughan 0-6 (0-4f, 0-1 ‘65), D Forde 0-5, F Kennedy 1-1, J Fitzgibbon 1-0, G O’Donnell, P Meaney, Cian Dillon 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kilmaley: K Kennedy 0-6 (0-5f), C Lynch, M O’Neill (0-2) each, D Keane, J Clohessy, C Neylon (0-1) each.
CRUSHEEN: D Tuohy; J Brigdale, Cronan Dillon, A Brigdale; C O’Doherty, Cian Dillon, Cathal Dillon; P Vaughan, J Meaney; G O’Donnell, J Fitzgibbon, D Forde; P Meaney, G O’Grady (c), F Kennedy.
Sub: C O’Donnell for P Meaney (47).
KILMALEY: K Dillon; M O’Connor, A Cahill, C McGuane; N Casey, A Markham (c) C McMahon; K Kennedy, C Lynch; D Keane, D McMahon, B McMahon; N McGuane, S Hurley, C Neylon.
Subs: M O’Neill for B McMahon inj. (14), E Enright for N McGuane (39), C Clancy for Neylon (41), J Cabey for Hurley (51), J Clohessy for Casey (53).
Referee: R Hickey (Éire Óg, Ennis)