The Cork side had a dream start and never let up with a powerful display which had their manager Donagh Duane smiling at the final whistle. “I was delighted with the way our fellas approached the game. From the word go we had a tactic to run at them and that paid off with our first goals. Those gave us a cushion all the way through and it didn’t seem to matter to the players what the scoreboard said, they just kept driving it on. We have experienced games before where we were up eight points and were brought back to level so we knew that the job was far from done at half-time.
“At half-time we spoke about work rate, blocking, hooking and we continued where we left off after the break. Our shooting was good also which was another plus and other than a few small knocks we seem to have come through okay.”
Duane was quickly turning his attention to an All-Ireland final in Croke Park against the Kilkenny and Leinster champions, Ballyragget.
“We have just eight days to go. The town and the players will be buzzing. We will head to training on Monday night and work hard again. We know it will be difficult but that’s what you have to expect ahead of an All-Ireland final. We did well last year playing weekend after weekend so I am sure that getting up again for next weekend will not be a problem”.
Early goals from Alan O’Keeffe (1st minute) and intercounty keeper Anthony Nash (14th minute) proved crucial, leaving the Ulster outfit shell-shocked. Ian and Aidan Walsh impressed throughout from their wing forward berths while Lorcán McLoughlin deputised superbly for the club’s absent free-taker Liam O’Keeffe who remains a doubt for the final with a hand injury.
Credit to Middletown Na Fianna - and in particular Ryan Gaffney - they stuck to the task in the first half managing five points (four from frees) which left them just within touching distance as the sides headed for the changing rooms (2-8 to 0-5). Kiernan McKernan also showed his worth fwith a brace of points.
Kanturk ratcheted up the pressure on the resumption and when James Fitzpatrick bundled the ball over the Middletown line it was merely a case of closing things out and commencing plans for Croke Park next Sunday.
L McLoughlin 0-7 (four frees); A Nash 1-1 (1-0 Pen, 0-1 free); A O’Keeffe, J Fitzpatrick 1-0 each; A Walsh 0-2; I Walsh, J Browne, L O’Neill 0-1 each.
R Gaffney 0-6 frees; K McKernan 0-2; N Curry (one free), M Maguire, C Carvill, D Carvill 0-1 each.
A Nash; P Walsh, J McLoughlin, E O’Connor; J Browne, M Healy; L McLoughlin, R Walsh; I Walsh, L O’Neill, A Walsh; A Sheehy, A O’Keeffe, J Fitzpatrick. Subs: D Kennelly for J Fitzpatrick (45), M O’Riordan for A Sheehy (52), D O’Connor for A Walsh (55), D O’Donoghue for A O’Keeffe (56).
F Woods; O Curry, P Gaffney, P Hughes; P Lappin, N Curry, T Nevin; P McBride, K McKernan; P Gaffney, C Carvill, D Carvill; M Moran, M Maguire, L Woods. Subs: S Toal for P Hughes (45), P Curry for P Lappin and B Mallon D Carvill (both 58).
G McGrath (Wexford)