The men in red and white blew Dripsey away by 26 points in a game that didn’t make it to the 20th minute as a contest - Charleville’s march to the final was impressive enough to install them as firm favourites, and they certainly lived up to that billing with a display of crisp striking and clever support play topped off by some clinical finishing.
Full-forward Andrew Cagney alone ended the game with 3-5 to his credit, a fair illustration of the potency Charleville could rely upon up front.
To be fair to Dripsey, they went toe to toe with Charleville in the early stages, with the score 0-4 to 1-3 after only seven minutes, but that green flag - for Charleville - was a fair representation of what was to come.
Charleville’s James O’Brien was their key player, making repeated inroads down the left wing. One of those runs ended with him passing to Cagney, who got that early goal with a well-struck finish.
Diarmuid O’Riordan had a pointed free for Dripsey on 10 minutes to make it 0-6 to 1-5 and then Charleville took the game and throttled it, hitting 2-8 before Dripsey scored again 15 minutes later.
O’Brien again was significant, marauding down the left before parting to Alan O’Connor, whose strong ground stroke ended in the net. O’Brien then drew a fine save from Aidan Buckley in the Dripsey goal, but with Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Kavanagh chipping in with points Charleville were beginning to pull out of sight.
On 20 minutes Cagney goaled again, Kavanagh pointed and Cagney chipped in with another point: it was 3-13 to 0-6 and the game was as good as over. Dripsey’s Conor Hayes took off on a long, mazy run before crossing for Diarmuid O’Riordan to goal bravely, giving the Muskerry men some hope, but O’Connor and Cagney pointed before the half-time whistle, leaving it 3-15 to 1-6 at the break.
Dripsey had the first point of the second half, a Diarmuid O’Riordan free, but their evening then deteriorated even further. A scuffle off the ball resulted in red cards for James O’Brien of Charleville and Dripsey’s John Carey, and the resulting defensive confusion was ruthlessly exploited by the north Cork men. They opened up the Dripsey centre and Cagney finished with a cracking drive for his hat-trick.
The remaining 25 minutes were hard going for Dripsey, who were overrun in the middle by Danny Flynn and Jack Barry of Charleville; Darragh Fitzgibbon’s accuracy and distribution was another key weapon in their armoury. Fitzgibbon got Charleville’s fifth goal with a clever finish as the game ticked into the final 10 minutes, and they were still hitting points as the game wound down.
To their credit, Dripsey kept looking for the goals that would give them respectability with the end approaching, but with Gavin Kelleher marshalling the Charleville defence expertly, those goal chances never materialised.
The north Cork club will certainly face into the premier intermediate grade in good heart. As noted earlier, their progress to Saturday evening’s decider was emphatic and the margin of victory suggests they’re more than ready for the next grade up.
Their manager Claude Gough made the point afterwards that Charleville needed to be able to offer their up-and-coming players quality competition, and who’s to say that will cease at premier intermediate?
A. Cagney 3-5; D. Fitzgibbon 1-9 (0-2 fs, 0-1 65); A. O’Connor 1-1, M. Kavanagh 0-4 (0-1 f); D. Flynn 0-3; J. Buckley, J. Barry 0-1 each.
D. O’Riordan 1-5 (0-5 fs); S. Burke 0-2; C. Hayes, M. O’Riordan (f), M. O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
C. Collins, M. O’Flynn
(c), A. Dennehy, F. Cagney, J. Buckley, G. Kelleher, B. Dennehy, D. Flynn, J. Barry, D. Fitzgibbon, A. O’Connor, D. Casey, M. Kavanagh, A. Cagney, J. O’Brien.
B. McCarthy for Barry, 41; D. Murphy for Casey, 45; J. Kennedy for Kavanagh, 48; J. O’Sullivan for Flynn, 50; C. Fitzgerald for F. Cagney, 55.
A. Buckley, B. Kelleher, L. Murphy, Daniel Buckley, S. O’Riordan, J. Carey, A. Murray, S. Murray, M. O’Riordan, C. Hayes, D. O’Riordan (c), S. Burke, David O’Sullivan, M. O’Sullivan, P. O’Riordan.
K. Kelleher for B. Kelleher, HT; David Buckley for S. Murray, 52; J. O’Riordan for M. O’Sullivan (blood) 52-55; J. O’Riordan for Burke, 55; Dean O’Sullivan for M. O’Riordan, 57.
J. Larkin (Douglas).