Friday, 21 November 2014

Cappoquin look to become first Waterford Club to win Munster Intermediate Club Championship

Each year here in Waterford we have high expectations that one of our county champions would reach a Munster Club hurling final. The most likely side in the eyes of many to reach a provincial final is the senior hurling champions, but the chances of our county senior football champions cannot be dismissed.

If at the start of the year someone told you that three of our sides would reach a Munster Final you might be forgiven for thinking you were reading something from a Roy of the Rovers comic strip and if someone told you that there was a chance of four of our six champions reaching a Munster Final then some might say you were reading from a Roy of the Rovers Christmas Annual where more space could be handed over to the stories appearing in the publication.

We in Waterford are having a great year in the club championships as half of our six champions have reached provincial finals, two of our six champions were eliminated after their first game against strong opposition and the sixth of our champions are in action this weekend for the first time this year.

Also this weekend the first of our three sides that have reached a Munster Final are in action.

That honour falls on Cappoquin who will travel along the banks of the Blackwater as far as Mallow where they will take on the Limerick Premier Intermediate Champions – Bruff where the cornerstone men are expected to bring a large gathering of support, not just from the Cappoquin and Affane areas but from many of the other clubs in the area and even across the county as a whole.

Cappoquin will know that they face stiff opposition this weekend in Bruff.

The Limerick side played in the senior championship in 2013 but for this year they were one of four sides who competed in the Senior Championship last year who were relegated as the Limerick County Board decided to cut the numbers playing senior from 16 to 12 for this year and to bring up four sides from the intermediate grade in 2013 to play in a brand new competition, one that has worked successfully in Cork for some years.

All year the Limerick side have looked impressive, winning six of the eight games they played in the league section of the championship before going on to have a successful run in the knockout stages of the championship.

They began the year with a 2-14 to 2-13 win over Bruff but lost in round two to Garryspillane on a 1-14 to 1-13 score-line before winning their next two games, 0-15 to 0-10 against Dromin Athlacca and 4-14 to 1-13 against Croom.

Blackrock proved marginally too strong in the fifth round winning a high scoring game 3-16 to 1-19 but the eventual champions got back to winning ways in their remaining two league games, beating Hospital-Herberstown 5-13 to 1-8, Knockaderry 1-17 to 1-11.

In their most recent games in Limerick Bruff beat Garryspillane 0-21 to 1-9 in the county semi final they beat County Final they proved too strong for Croom for the second time this year winning 2-14 to 0-16.

Bruff come into this game as the favourites, but they will know the challenge that the Cappoquin will be no easy side to defeat.

Bruff will know that they will have to keep their discipline if they are to have any chance of winning this game as indiscipline could well cost them on the day as Shane O’Rourke has proven to be an ace free taker for Cappoquin all year but the Limerick side will know that in Shane Bulfin they have a player that is equally as impressive when standing over a placed ball.

While Bulfin will be important to the Limerick side, they are by no means a one man team. Paul Browne will be a familiar name to many hurling supporters as he has played with the Limerick senior hurlers over the past few years.

Sean Finn has played minor for Limerick over the past two years and he could well play a major roll playing in the full back line, while others that could have a major roll to play for the Limerick side in this game are Brian Finn, Dean Madden, Bobby O’Brien, John Cooke, Paddy O’Leary and Kyle Dillon.

If Bruff’s road to Saturday’s Munster Final is impressive, the same could be said of Cappoquin.

They beat near neighbours Tourin in their first league game on a 1-20 to 1-11 and then had a big win (4-20 to 1-10) over Abbeyside’s second team in round two of the league section of the competition.

The Cornerstone men’s only defeat of the year came in round three of the league section of the championship when An Rinn who played senior in 2013 beat them 4-12 to 1-15 but they got back to winning ways in round four of the league section of the competition with a 1-13 to 0-9 win over a fancied Brickeys side at Colligan.

Cappoquin advanced to the semi finals of the championship after they had the better score difference after three sides finished level on six points from a possible eight and in the semi finals An Rinn were to be their opponents for the second time this year.

An Rinn would have been the favoured side to win by many but for a side to win twice against the same opposition in a short space of time is always a big ask and this time out they were on the wrong end of a 2-12 to 1-12 score line against Cappoquin.

In the Western Final Ballinameela were Cappoquin’s opponents. Most were of the opinion that this local derby game could go either way as the two sides were evenly enough balanced. It was Cappoquin that emerged winners on a 2-15 to 2-13 score line which set up a county final against Saint Saviours at Fraher Field.

The Cornerstone men went into that game as the warmest of favourites, but they were made fight very hard by the city side and it was only in the final minutes of the game when Cappoquin’s experience of playing at a higher level up through the underage ranks and in the college’s competitions in recent years began to tell and they pulled away to win 2-19 to 2-11.

Cappoquin’s most recent game was against Clare champions Feakle at Sixmilebridge, a game that Cappoquin staged a late surge on the Clare side’s goal to win the game 1-14 to 0-16 in the Munster semi final. At the same stage of the competition Bruff had a 2-13 to 2-10 win over Kerry’s senior champions Lixnaw who had shocked the Cork Intermediate champions in the quarter finals.

In recent games Shane O’Rourke has made a lot of the headlines when it comes to Cappoquin as he continues to prove to he his sides top scorer in all games.

Last time out they were missing players like Keith Landers who was away on Army duty, Aaron O’Sullivan who was injured as was Kevin Looby. Keith Landers and Kevin Looby are reported to be back for this weekend and there are suggestions that Aaron O’Sullivan one of three Cappoquin men to play minor for Waterford this year could also be in contention for a place this weekend if called upon.

Others that could play a major roll for Cappoquin this weekend could be Donal O’Rourke between the posts, Colm and Timmy Looby in the full back line, while Patrick Morrissey who deputised for Kevin Looby against Feakle will be looking to retain his place.

The half back line of Shane Murray, Conor Murray and David Cahillane looks to be a strong settled unit, while Paul and Finnan Murray in the middle of the field are vital cogs in the Cappoquin wheel.

Top scorer Shane O’Rourke could well start in the number ten position, Andy Molumby, another Cappoquin man to play minor for Waterford in 2014 will be at centre forward and Keith Landers could welcome Keith Landers back into the team for Colin Landers, while the inside forward line of Shane Coughlan, PJ Curran and Killian O’Sullivan could well remain in tact.

Cappoquin will go into this game as the underdog (12/5 in some bookies) as opposed to 1/3 for the Limerick side and 10/1 the draw but they will not be worried. Waterford sides often play best when they are told they are the bookies second choice to win a two horse race. Cappoquin will be no different.

Bruff may have played senior hurling in Limerick until relatively recently, whereas Cappoquin have not played since the 1990’s, but this will not bother them. Cappoquin often get better as the year goes on, and if they were to come home from Mallow as the First side to win the Munster Championship at this grade, I for one would not be too surprised.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Modeligo March On

Some time back on Twitter I asked what it was that those in the Dunmore East/Ballygunner/Passage East areas were eating, and went on to say that must be good stuff.

My reason for doing so was simple enough. A new ladies football Club was formed in Gaultier and the Gailltir (same area, spelt different) Camogie Club were having a great time.

The newly formed Football Club were reaching semi finals and finals of different competitions, only weeks after the club was formed and the Gailltir Camogie Club which is around much longer were also having a great time, retaining the County Feile title won in 2013, retaining the National Féile title won in 2013, winning the county under 14 final, and its under 16 and minor teams were also doing well and the clubs senior team reached the semi final of the championship where they put it up to a fancied Saint Anne’s team at Walsh Park.

I am going to ask the same question again, but am going to change it a small bit. Instead of naming areas in what is often referred to as ‘the Barony’ I am going to ask ‘what is it that the men of Modeligo are eating of the past few month’s’?

As close as Modeligo is to me, I don’t know the answer to the question is, but whatever it is, it is working.

2014 is proving to be a great year for Modeligo. I think some were some that were thinking i was giving what is in the pot a good stir recently when I suggested that Modeligo should have not just been named in the final list of clubs that are in for the Club of the Year Award which is due to be presented shortly at a function in Dungarvan, I can honestly say that the club next door to my own club should be the overall winners.

Take a look at what they have achieved this year. They won the Western Intermediate Hurling league (remember they Modeligo club played junior in the Championship), they won the Western Junior Football League Final, reached the semi finals of the Junior Football Championship, and won the Western and County Junior Hurling Championships.

And last weekend the year got even better as they qualified for the Munster Club Final, repeating what the 2013 champions Ballysaggart did twelve months ago, and in just over a week’s time they will take on Cork champions Castlemartyr at Mallow.

Whether Modeligo win that game or not, 2014 is going to be a remembered for a long time in Modeligo.

Along the way they have played some good hurling, and last Sunday at Collyroe in Limerick they impressed again.

Heading to Limerick Modeligo would have known that they faced a tough battle as hurling in Limerick at this point is on a bit of a high.

Limerick’s minor side have won the last two Munster Finals, Ardscoil Ris, West Limerick Colleges, Doon CBS and Castletroy Colleges have all performed well in the Dr. Harty Cup over the past few years, the Counties Senior team had won a Munster Final and reached an All-Ireland semi final in the last two years, and Senior Club hurling Champions – Kilmallock and Intermediate Champions – Bruff had reached Munster Final’s this coming weekend, and Modeligo’s opponents in this game were hell-bent on adding to their recent impressive results.

The first half of the game against Limerick Champions Feohanagh Castlemahon was a very close game.

The Limerick side went into this game with a couple of tough games under there belts. They played Na Piarsaigh in the Limerick Junior County Final recently at the Gaelic Grounds, a game which no matter what the side from West Limerick knew they would be representing the county in the provincial competition as their opponents were a second string side and the Munster Council do not permit second string sides into its competitions.

That game had ended in controversy as the score on the scoreboard did not match with what was announced over the public address system. The county chairman deemed the game ended in a draw, and so a replay was ordered which Feohanagh Castlemahon won 0-20 to 0-9. In between they played and beat the Tipperary champions Skeheenarinky at Cahir.   

The first half of the game proved to be an even enough affair in which the sides were level on six occasions, but after 30 minutes, Modeligo found themselves trailing 1-11 to 0-10, the goal coming two minutes from the break Jamie Butler finishing to the net when a ball delivered in from the sideline was not dealt with properly by the Modeligo defence.

However whatever was said by Modeligo manager Pa Kearny at the break worked as their was only one side in it in the second half as Modeligo outscored the Limerick side 1-7 to 1-1, the Feohanagh Castlemahon scores only coming late in the game.

Modeligo signalled their intention from the restart as Jamie Troy their Man of the Match in the County Final pointed within seconds of the restart and when his younger brother Michael hit Modeligo’s first goal on 35 minutes it turned the game right around.

Modeligo copper fastened their win on 50 minutes when Tom Devine who had an impressive year in 2013 on the Colleges and Inter County Minor scene struck for a second goal.

As if the second half was not bad enough for the Limerick side, they finished the game with fourteen men after Mike Fitzgibbon was sent off seven minutes from time. They did however hit some late score’s (1-1) but it was not enough. The damage was done at that stage with Modeligo impressing in attack and at the back they were equally as impressive keeping their opponents scoreless for almost thirty minutes which is no mean achievement at this level of hurling.

Modeligo will go into the Munster final as the underdogs in the eyes of many. After all there is seldom a bad team come out of Cork in any grade, but Modeligo won’t mind this as they will know that many a team that represents Waterford often thrives when written off by many.

Last Sunday, Modeligo had big performances from former senior inter county player Pat Fitzgerald at Centre back, Jamie Troy, Tom Devine, Nicky O’Donovan, Pa Walsh who was back in the side after a spell out with injury, Michael Troy, Patrick O’Donovan and Thomas ‘Tyler’ Walsh amongst other and they will know that a repeat performance from them against the East Cork side on December 7 they have a great chance of bringing back the victors trophy to Waterford for only the second time in the competitions short history.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

County final win for Kill last weekend equals Munster semi final this weekend

There can be no disputing that these are difficult times, and many clubs have found some of their best players in their late teens, into their twenties and even early thirties are having to leave these shores in search of employment prospects, meaning that clubs are finding it harder and harder to put fifteen players out for any game.

The GAA both locally and nationally will have difficult choices to make in the few years. One may be to cut the number on teams from the present 15 to maybe 13, 12, 11 or even 9 or else have neighbouring clubs pool their resources together.

Already the latter is happening. Kill and Fenor merged this year. In hurling the players of the here to fore two clubs played in the Fenor shirt and under the Fenor name and in Football the Kill name and colours were used. With weeks now there are talks of other similar mergers happening for the year ahead. If this happens or not will be seen in the coming weeks as clubs hold their Annual General Meetings and register players to play with different teams.

The merger or joining of Kill and Fenor certainly worked in its first year.

After Kill appeared in last years Eastern Final of the Junior Football Championship they were always going to be one of the favourites to win this years championship and when they merged with Fenor they were going to be even stronger.

Their win over Roanmore may not be as easy as some would have expected, but a win is a win. It does not matter if it is by one point or twenty-one points.

In the county final last week they were favourites to beat Old Parish and for 50 minutes they were the better side, but ‘The Shocks’ put in a terrific last ten minutes to earn a draw with the second last kick of the game.

For the replay last Saturday in Walsh Park many expected the game to be just as close. Kill would have been the favourites to win, but Old Parish was not to be discounted. A lot of people fancied them (myself included) who thought they could actually win, but we were to be left disappointed.

Like in the drawn game the Mid county side had a great start in this game, but unlike the drawn game, they never relented in their pressure on the Old Parish half of the field and continued to look for scores right to the end even though the game was well won before the final whistle was sounded.

Inside three minutes of this game starting Kill were five points up.

Ben Gallagher kicked the first score inside a minute of the game throwing in. Ray Hennessy who was voted man of the match in this game finishing with 2-5 behind his name followed up with the first score of the game and on three minutes Sean Cheasty was in the right place at the right time to capitalise on a Conor Hennessy lob that was not dealt with by Aidan Power in the Old Parish goal. Kill could have added to their early great start by Sean Cheasty saw his effort go just wide.

Old Parish however did not throw in the towel and in the following minutes were somewhat unlucky not to have reigned in and maybe even cancelling out Kill’s great start as Michael French and Graham Guiry saw efforts go wide of the posts.

John Flynn extended Kill’s lead with a point on nine minutes, but points from Shane Power and Declan Ryan saw them move closer to Kill but still trailed the mid county side 1-3 to 0-2 after 12 minutes.

Kill missed chances through John Flynn and Ben Gallagher to further extend their lead before Conor Hennessy and Ray Hennessy did kick scores to give them a 1-5 to 0-2 lead with 22 minutes played.

Another Conor Hennessy point was registered for Kill before they his a second goal five minutes from the break. Anthony Kiely was picked out with a good pass from John Flynn who beat Aidan Power to give his side a ten point lead.

Old Parish however would give themselves hope going into the second half as they kicked the last two scores of the first thirty minutes through Cormac Nugent and Declan Ryan from a free to leave ‘The Shocks’ trailing 2-6 to 0-4 at the turn around.

Old Parish at the start of the second half continued where they left off in the first half kicking the first two points through Declan Ryan and Cormac Nugent to leave six between the teams and you had to feel if Old Parish could kick a goal in the following few minutes without conceding one, they were going to be in with a major shout of winning this game.

Ray Hennessy put over a point on 37 minutes to leave seven between the sides, and Declan Ryan from a sideline lick responded for Old Parish at the end of the third quarter.

But this score as good as it was failed to ignite Old Parish. In fact it was to prove to be their last score of the game.

Kill on the other hand went on to kick six further scores in this game, half of them resulting in green flags.

Ray Hennessy had the first of two green flags waved by the umpire for his efforts on 46 minutes after he was set up by Sean Cheasty and the same player followed up with a brace of points to give the mid county side a 3-9 to 0-7 lead.

Seven minutes from time Ben Gallagher brought their point tally on the score board to a double digit total and moments later Ray Hennessy hit his second goal of the game after he was picked out by John Flynn.

In added time at the end of the hour Old Parish goalkeeper Aidan Power gave away a penalty which Ben Gallagher slammed to the net to help his side to a comfortable 5-10 to 0-7 victory.

Kill’s celebrations will by now have died down as they are back in action this weekend in the Munster Championship where they will be hoping to become the fourth Waterford side to reach a Munster Club final this year, following in the footsteps of The Nire, Cappoquin and Modeligo.

Limerick champions Glin will be their opponents in Newcastlewest this Sunday.

Glin are one of a handful of clubs that are consistently knocking at the door when it comes to the Junior Football Championship in Limerick over the past decade but up to some weeks back it was not to be for them as they often stumbled on the closing straight.

Their path to this weekend’s game has been the more emphatic looking to be a good side beating Patrickswell semi-final with a ten-minute blitz just after the break.

They have won all 14 games played this year, but at times they played within themselves on most other occasions and even had a narrow scrapes.

Reports coming out of Limerick despite these 13 wins, a dozen of them in Limerick and one game against Inane Rovers from Tipperary in the Munster semi final last time out, suggest that that Glin are notorious for having one poor game every year and so far this year it has not happened, which will have Kill supporters hoping that it will come this weekend.

The standard of Junior Football would appear to be slightly better than what it is in Waterford, which could well mean that the Limerick side will go into this weekends game as the favourites, but Kill are an experienced side and should not be ruled out of contention of winning a place in the Munster Final in early December.

Kill: Kieran Dunphy; David Sullivan, Stephen Dunne, Luke Middleton; Fergal Whelan, Jim Halley, Brian Flynn; Conor Hennessy, Niall Hennessy; John Flynn Anthony Kiely, Ben Gallagher; Conor Rockett, Ray Hennessy, Sean Cheasty. Subs: Jim Murphy for David O’Sullivan, Mick Ahearne for Brian Flynn, Peter Kirwan for Conor Rockett, Paudie Raher for Ray Hennessy, Peter Torpey for John Flynn.

Scorers: Ray Hennessy 2-5 (0-1f), Ben Gallagher 1-2 (1-0 pen), Sean Cheasty, Anthony Kiely 1-0 each, Conor Hennessy 0-2, John Flynn 0-1.

Old Parish: Aidan Power; Ian Curran, Patrick Conway, Dan Murphy; Andy Walsh, Michael French, Stephen Conway; Cormac Nugent, Shane Power; Tomas Curran, Declan Ryan, Declan Power; Ray Terry, Graham Guiry, Padraig Healy. Subs: Patrick Keating for Dan Murphy, Diarmuid Curran for Ray Terry, Bryan French for Tomas Curran, Tomas Galvin for Ian Curran, Brendan Hogan for Declan Power.

Scorers: Declan Ryan 0-4 (0-3 f, 0-1 SL), Cormac Nugent 0-2, Shane Power 0-1.

Referee: Pat Casey (Affane/Cappoquin).

Ardfert prove too strong for Brickeys.

There was no joy for Brickeys in the Munster Club Championship on Sunday afternoon last as they went under to a much stronger Ardfert outfit who had nine points to spare at the end of the hour.

While the Brickeys will be disappointed with the final result of this game, overall they won’t be too disappointed as they will know that on another day, the final result could have been a lot wider on the score board.

The Kerry Champions you always felt could up their game if needed in this game, and early on in the game it looked as if they were going to coast to victory but as the first half progressed the Waterford champions came more into the game and at the break just two points separated the sides.

Just one goal was scored in this game and in the end it proved to be a decisive one. Despite their slow start to the game, up to when Jerry Wallace scored a somewhat lucky goal on thirty seven minutes, the Bushy Park outfit were in with a chance of winning the game.

Shane Griffin opened the scoring for the Kerry Champions with just two minutes on the clock but from the restart The Brickeys attacked and quickly drew level thanks to an effort from Mark Cummins.

However Ardfert were to enjoy a period of dominance after this kicking the next three scores, through Darren Wallace, John Dowling from a free and Damien Wallace.

The Kerry champions were somewhat unlucky not to be further in front shortly after this as shortly after Damien Wallace’s effort a goal was ruled out by the referee as the ball in a crowded goalmouth was fisted to the net by Martin Ferris.

Carthach Shalloe and Darren Wallace exchanged scores on fifteen minutes to keep two between the sides.

Darren Wallace and John Dowling kicked further scores for the Kerry Champions to give them a four point lead with twenty two minutes played, but Brickeys enjoyed the greater dominance in the closing minutes of the first half as Cormac O’Grady kicked the last two scores of the half to leave just two between the sides at the break.

Brickeys started the second half as they had ended the first, with Carthach Shalloe putting over a well struck free, but the Kerry side soon got into their stride.

A brace of Damien Wallace points followed with thirty seven minutes played and moments later Daniel Collins set up Jerry Wallace who had only entered the fray three minutes earlier to put the ball somewhat fortunately into Joe Grants top left hand corner of the net to give his side a six point lead.

John Egan followed up with a point for the Kerry side but it was cancelled out by a delightful Shane McGrath effort to leave Brickeys trailing 1-9 to 0-6 at the end of the third quarter.

Damien Wallace finished off a fine team movement on forty-six minutes to extend his sides lead to seven, which was cut to six on forty eight minutes with a good Carthach Shalloe effort from play.

Points from Damien Wallace, Shane Griffin and John Egan followed which gave the Kerry side a deserved victory.

Brickeys: Joe Grant; Carthach Barry, Kieran O’Neill, Diarmuid Tobin; Richard Halpin, Conor Phelan, Tommy Lynch; Mark Cummins, Darragh Duggan; Shane McGrath, Conor McGrath, Jamie Kiely; Cormac O’Grady, Emmet Gaffney, Carthach Shalloe. Subs: Philip Walsh for Mark Cummins (15), Cormac Curran for Jamie Kiely (36), Olan Casey for Darragh Duggan (41), John Morrissey for Emmet Gaffney (49), Darragh O’Grady for Shane McGrath (53),

Scorers: Carthach Shalloe 0-3 (2f), Cormac O’Grady 0-2, Mark Cummins, Shane McGrath 0-1 each.

Ardfert: Darren Delaney; Darren Dineen, Rory Horgan, Fionan Horgan; Daniel Collins, Stephen Leen, Trevor Wallace; John Dowling, Kevin Shanahan; David Griffin, Martin Ferris, Darren Wallace; John Egan, Damien Wallace, Shane Griffin. Subs: Jerry Wallace for John Dowling (34), Brandon Barrett for Darren Wallace (53), Niall Clifford for Daniel Collins (55), Eoghan Courtney for Damien Wallace (59), John Galvin for Trevor Wallace (62).

Scorers: Damien Wallace 0-5, Jerry Wallace 1-0, Darren Wallace, John Dowling (2f), John Egan, Shane Griffin 0-2 each.  

Referee: Kevin Murphy (Cork).


Monday, 17 November 2014

Nire qualify for Munster Final

“Kiely (John – Jackson) was right about (Conor) Gleeson”, the words I received in a text message leaving the Fraher Field on Sunday evening.

The teenager who has received some rave reviews over the past few weeks and he was magnificent again in this game.

However he was not the only one to stand out in a yellow and blue shirt, as the O’Gorman twins Thomas and Maurice, the Wall brothers Diarmuid and Brian, their first cousin Shane Ryan, Jamie Barron, Justin Walsh, Liam Lawlor and Shane Walsh whose brothers Ger and Pat were part of the Nire team that won a first senior final with the club 21 years ago all played a major part in this win, and with new Waterford manager Tom McGlinchey watching on for the first time since he was official confirmed as Niall Carew’s successor recently must have been impressed and will be hoping to get as many of these players involved in his panel in the year ahead.

2069 was given as the official attendance at the Munster Intermediate and Senior Club double header at Fraher Field on Sunday afternoon and its fair to possibly say that apart from some Ardfert fans who had to make a long journey back to Kerry after the Intermediate game, few if any of the rest that passed through the gates of Fraher Field left the ground early.

Football at times has its knockers and at times its easy to see why as games played out are one sided drab affairs but that could not be said of this game.

This was club football at its best, even forgetting it should be taken into account that the game was played in mid November.

Throughout the game little if anything separated these two sides and it was no surprise that at the end of thirty, sixty and again seventy minutes that the sides were inseparable. And even as the game headed towards the 80th minute it looked as though another hour at a minimum was going to be needed to find a winner.

Cratloe came to Fraher Field with a huge following, all hoping to see what the clubs hurlers done a week earlier, becoming one of a small few clubs across Ireland who have qualified for a Senior Hurling and Football double appearance in a provincial final in the one year.

As things would turn out for the East Clare outfit however, it was not to be as the Waterford Champions proved to be the better of the two teams, setting up what is only a second appearance in a Munster Final in the clubs history.

While Cratloe will be disappointed with the final outcome, they will be the first to admit with a Munster Senior Club Hurling Final to be played next weekend against Limerick champions Kilmallock, the last thing they wanted in Fraher Field was for the game to go to an extra twenty minutes.

However, they will feel that they could have won the game within the hour as in the closing seconds of the game they been awarded a penalty but referee Derek O’Mahony who was much closer to the action than those watching on from the stand did not think a penalty should be awarded and instead within seconds of the incident awarded The Nire a free out.

In a game where the sides were level on six occasions in normal time and again once in extra time, it was the visitors who got the game off to a great start with a Cathal McInerney free on two minutes.

It took The Nire a little longer to get into their stride but were level by the end of the sixth minute after Shane Walsh put over his sides first score of the game from a movement which started with a cleverly struck quick ’45. Podge Collins and Jamie Barron would then swap scores to tie the scoring at two points each after ten minutes.

If you are a regular reader of what appears on this site, you will know that I am not a fan of a short quick puck out when it comes to either hurling or football.

Such a practice I feel should be got rid off as it more often than not puts a team under pressure even if they are as many sides now play with two more defenders than there is attackers in the same end of the field.

Sometimes it works, but it is rare it does and when it does not work then teams are made to pay. This time it was The Nire that made to pay, and it could well have proven to be a very costly on another day.

Goalkeeper Tom Wall sent a short pass towards the stand side of the field playing out of the road goal, but it was Podge Collins who proved to be the most alert player in that area of the field and he was able to collect the ball and send it back in around The Nire’s goal mouth where Cathal McInerney was waiting and he was able to fist pass the Collins pass past Tom Wall in the Nire goal to give his side a 1-2 to 0-2 lead with 11 minutes played.

Sides are often at their most vulnerable just after scoring a goal and so it proved here for Cratloe.

Shane Ryan put over a point fro The Nire on 13 minutes after some good work by Michael O’Gorman, and four minutes later The Nire were in front for the first time when after some excellent work by Jamie Barron who picked out Conor Gleeson with a perfect pass, who slotted past O’Kelly in the Cratloe goals who was deputising for Pierce de Loughrey who as being treated to a cut his nose in the dug out.

But if it is true that a team is often vulnerable after leaving in a goal, it was The Nire’s turn now for it to happen to them, as within seconds Podge Collins and Conor McGrath linked up to send Conor Ryan through for Cratloe to beat Tom Wall for the second time in this game.

How would The Nire now react to conceding a second goal was on the minds of those present supporting them in the ground. The answer however was as The Nire only knows how.

Conor Gleeson from a Liam Lawlor pass and Jamie Barron kicked points to level matters with eight minutes of the half still to play.

The visiting side went back in front once more three minutes from the break when Cathal McInerney put over a free from about 40 metres which most inside the ground was awarded about 5 metres further out the field, but The Nire would be level within two minutes when the impressive Brian Wall got onto the end of a good Jamie Barron pass to kick his first score of the game.

The Nire however were somewhat unlucky not to have gone to the dressing rooms with an advantage on the scoreboard as two minutes into stoppage time Conor Gleeson hit the crossbar with an effort that could just as easily have gone under as over.

The Nire however did go to the dressing rooms with just 14 players on the field as just seconds from the end, Michael O’Gorman who has proven to be such a key member of the team in recent games was brandished a black card by Derek O’Mahony who blew his half time whistle before The Nire could introduce anyone.

During the break The Nire management team of Benjie Whelan, Paudie Halpin, Ger Walsh, Michael Lawlor and Ger Peters decided to enter Keith Guiry into the game as O’Gorman’s replacement and he soon began to make an impact.

Shane Ryan from a free hit the first score of the second half from a free which was soon followed with the black carding of Enda Boyce of Cratloe. The resulting free saw Brian Wall extend his side’s lead to two points. But these scores inside the first four minutes of the half would prove to be the only ones The Nire would hit till the final four minutes of the game.

In between, Cratloe exerted a lot of pressure on The Nire defence.

Cathal McInerney from a free drew his side to within one of The Nire on forty-six minutes and two minutes later the sides were level again for a fifth time when Podge Collins pointed.

The visitors were now in the middle of a bit of a purple patch and McInerney put over two more points to edge his sides two in front, and it was looking as though the dream for the East Clare outfit was about to be fulfilled.

However as we all know no game is ever over till that final whistle is blown and in the following minutes The Nire mounted a lot of pressure on the Cratloe goal.

Four minutes from the hour mark Shane Walsh kicked a delightful point for The Nire to leave just one between the sides and with the home side now digging even deeper, Jamie Barron not for the first time in this game picked out Conor Gleeson with a perfect pass and he made no mistake in putting the ball between the uprights to send the game to extra time.

Scores in extra time were always going to be at a premium, as both sides began to tire for their efforts from playing on what was a growing increasingly heavy pitch.

Cathal McInerney opened the scoring in extra time when he pointed to edge his side in front but before the turn-around in extra time the sides were level for a seventh time after Keith Guiry did well to pick out Shane Walsh and the former duel inter county made no mistake raising a huge cheer from the large Nire support inside the ground.

Six minutes into the second half of extra time Keith Guiry having replaced Michael O’Gorman at the break in normal time after he had picked up a black card was ordered off after he suffered the same fete.

Jamie Barron followed up with a point for The Nire to send them one point up, Shane Ryan playing a pivotal roll in the build up and before the end, that lead was doubled when Brian Wall from a Jamie Barron pass secured his sides place in their second Munster final in two weeks time against Kerry Champions Austin Stacks at a venue yet to be confirmed.

The question now on the lips of many Nire and supporters across the county is can the side based in Ballymacarbry become the first club from Waterford to win a Munster Senior Club Football Championship. Of course they can. Maybe in the past when it came to such games, too much respect was shown to the opposition. Don’t get me wrong, The Nire will respect Austin Stacks between now and the game. They will respect them after the game, but once the side burst out of the dressing room doors and onto the field, The Nire will have to forget about who they are playing and just go out and do what they have done over the past few games, playing the standard of football they have played recently and if they do, anything is possible.

The Nire: Tom Wall; Maurice O’Gorman, Thomas O’Gorman, Justin Walsh; Seamus Lawlor, Brian Wall, Diarmuid Wall; Craig Guiry, Shane Walsh; Michael O’Gorman, Michael Moore, Jamie Barron; Shane Ryan, Liam Lawlor, Conor Gleeson. Subs: Keith Guiry for Michael O’Gorman (BC), Jack Guiry for Justin Walsh, Dermot Ryan for Michael Moore, Alan Lawlor for Keith Guiry (BC).

Scorers: Conor Gleeson 1-2, Jamie Barron, Shane Walsh, Shane Ryan (0-2f) 0-3 each, Brian Wall 0-2.

Cratloe: Pierce De Loughrey; Sean Chaplin, Barry Duggan, Shane O’Leary; David Ryan, Michael Hawes, Enda Boyce; John Galvin, Fergal Lynch; Conor Ryan, Sean Collins, Liam Markham; Cathal McInerney, Conor McGrath, Podge Collins. Subs: Eoin O’Kelly for Pierce de Loughrey (BS 13-21) David Collins for Boyce (BC).

Scorers: Cathal McInerney 1-6 (0-4f), Conor Ryan 1-0, Podge Collins 0-2.

Referee: Derek O’Mahony (Tipperary).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cratloe are the bookies favourites to reach a unique senior hurling and football Munster Club Final, but The Nire won’t mind

The last time The Nire played in the Munster Senior Club Championship (2006) they reached the Munster Final loosing out to a Dr Crokes team which included Colm Cooper in it at Cork on a 2-5 to 0-8 score line.

Of course The Nire won the Conway Cup again in 2008, but because a decision was taken to suspend the championships in Waterford that year as the counties senior hurlers went on a winning run after loosing the Munster Championship opener against Clare, a run that saw them contest the All-Ireland Final against Kilkenny in early September, a team was not ready on time to contest the Munster Senior Club Football Championship.

Suspending Championships and not having a team in place to contest the Munster Club Championship in the three grades is something that is not new. It happens in many counties. We saw it happen in Tipperary this year. They did not have a team in place to contest the Munster Senior Club Football Championship and the Munster Intermediate Club Hurling Championship.

The GAA at Central Council level have purposed that the Club Championships be finished in the one calendar year and this is something that should be welcomed by most club players in most counties as the current practice in many counties means that they miss out on representing their counties at a provincial level, a chance that for some could be their only chance in their career.

Of course The Nire is not the only Waterford team to reach a Senior Club Football final. Two years before they did so, Stradbally reached the final, drawing with the Clare Champions Kilmurray-Ibrickane 0-9 each before loosing the replay 0-9 to 0-8, and a year after The Nire contested the final, Ballinacourty were in the final loosing 1-10 to 1-7 against Dromcollogher Broadford from Limerick, and back in the 80’s when Kilrossanty were the top side in the county, they too reached a final, but like those that contested finals after them defeat was their lot.

Sooner rather than later it can’t but feel that a Waterford club will contest and win a provincial final and there is some that feel that 2014 will be that year.

Clare champions Cratloe travel to Fraher Field this weekend to challenge The Nire in the semi finals. They will travel to Dungarvan as the clearest of favourites, which is something that will not worry The Nire too much as they will know that many did not give them any hope going into their recent County Final game against Stradbally at the same venue.

The Clare side are both Senior Hurling and Football champions in the Banner County and are safely through to the hurling decider against Limerick champions Kilmallock after beating Tipperary champions Thurles Sarsfields in Ennis last weekend, and if they were to beat The Nire this weekend that would become one of a handful of teams to appear in both the senior hurling and football decider in the one year.

Of course The Nire will already know how strong the Clare Champions are likely to be as just twelve months ago, they beat Ballinacourty in Ennis on a 1-10 to 0-11 score line just under twenty four hours after winning the Clare championship.

Cratloe to reach this weekends game have played just five games and against three different clubs.

They began their year with a 2-12 to 1-12 win over Eire Óg  and followed it up with a 1-8 to 1-4 win over Cooraclare.  

These two wins gave the East Clare outfit a quarter final spot against O’Currys a game they won 0-16 to 1-9 and in the semi final Cooraclare were again to provide the opposition a game that Cratloe just as in the first meeting of the two won by four points, this time on a 0-12 to 0-8 score line.

Eire Óg were to provide the opposition for Cratloe in the County Final a game that the champions won a little easier than the first meeting of the sides. Three points separated the sides the first day, in the county final it was seven.

Goals that day from Conor McGrath after he was set up by Podge Collins on five minutes and by Collins seven minutes later proved to be the key scores in that game.

Podge Collins is possibly Cratloe’s most famous player and he has former Limerick footballer John Galvin playing alongside him this year which is a huge plus to the Clare side. However the Clare side do not rely solely on these two as Cathal McInerney, Liam Markham, Barry Duggan and Conor McGrath amongst others are all fine footballers.

The Nire go into this weekend’s game with a one hundred per cent win record at their backs having recorded wins over Ballinameela, St Saviours, Stradbally, De La Salle and Gaultier in the group stages of the championship.

In the quarter finals they beat neighbours Rathgormack by three points and in the semi final just one point separated them from An Rinn.

In the county final Stradbally again provided the opposition and the Nire put in a polished performance on beating them 0-11 to 0-6 at Fraher Field.

Last time out The Nire played Limerick champions Ballylanders in the quarter finals of the Munster Championship, a game that The Nire possibly served up their best performance of the year winning on a 1-11 to 0-7 score line in Kilmallock.

Teenager Conor Gleeson has received some glowing reports for his most recent performances and rightly so, as he truly is a fine prospect.

The Nire however do not rely on him to produce the goods as right throughout the team they have some fine players.

No doubt the Clare champions will have come up with a plan to try and curtail him if as I suspect they did see him in the win over Ballylanders and maybe even against Stradbally, but to try and keep him quite could mean that the focus would allow someone else to be the person to make the headlines and in the likes of Shane Walsh, Liam Lawlor, Jamie Barron, Brian and Diarmuid Wall, the O’Gorman brothers Michael, Thomas and Maurice and Shane Ryan they have some fine footballers who can turn a game at a moments notice.

At 8/15 in the bookies, the Clare champions will be fancied to win to overcome the challenge of The Nire, but with what could be a decent gathering behind them, especially with Brickeys involved in a curtain raiser to the game, a sixteen man for the Benjie Whelan’s side could prove to be decisive in their quest to reach a second Munster Senior club final in the clubs history.

Brickeys welcome Kerry champions to Fraher Field

Just over twelve months after they lost their place in the Waterford Senior Football Championship for this year’s competition after seven years of competing, Brickeys recently secured their place in the senior championship for 2015 after a one year stint in the Intermediate grade.

The Bushy Park outfit were always favourite to win the win the championship in the Western division this year and duly and many made them certainties to beat Portlaw in the County Final, but the result was far from a certainty as the Tannery Men put it up to the Western Champions who had three points to spare at the end of the hour.

To get to Sunday’s game in Fraher Field, the Kerry side had to play just four games. Not much game time I here you say for the Kerry Champions coming into this game, but there is of course a very good reason, the championship in Kerry is run on an all county knockout basis.

Their first game saw they beat Saint Mary’s 1-12 to 1-9 and in round two things were much closer as they beat John Mitchell’s 1-9 to 1-8. Now in the semi finals Ardfert had their biggest win of the competition up to that point as they beat Castleisland Desmonds 1-12 to 0-10 and in the county final against Spa it was another five point win this time winning on a score line exactly the same as in the semi finals.

However, while sides in Kerry may not get many games in the championship, it is more that made up for in what are very competitive games.

Ardfert played in the third division this year in the all county league which began on the second last weekend of March and which still has one round of games still to play.

In total to date they have played ten games in the league and are currently in seventh place having won four, drawn one and loosing five games to date.

It is maybe worth noting that of the four games won to date, all four have come against sides that are below them in the table at this point and their last game is against a Scartaglin side that are currently sitting bottom of the pile. Their best result of those that are above them in the table was against Glenflesk who are currently third in the table a game that ended on a 0-14 each draw.

Brickeys head into this game after a good year.

In the league section of the Western Championship they had good wins over The Nire’s second string team, the Geraldine’s, Ballyduff Upper, Sliabh gCua and Dungarvan and suffered their only defeat against Ballinacourty second string team on a 1-8 to 0-10 score line in their third game.

In the Western semi final, they had a 0-17 to 2-8 win over Geraldine’s and in the Western Final they had a 0-9 to 0-5 victory over Ballinacourty which set up a county final recently at Walsh Park against Portlaw, a game they won 3-8 to 1-11.

The visitors to Fraher Field will be looking to David Griffin their goal scorer in the county final against Spa as well as Damien Wallace who missed that game through suspension and John Egan who played in the Hurling/Shinty international against Scotland that weekend for big games and will also be hoping to have Darren Dineen back in the side after injury.

Carthach Shalloe is Brickeys top scorer all year and they will be looking for him to find the range as often as possible this weekend if they are to advance. Others that they will need big games from include Conor and Shane McGrath, Conor Phelan, Diarmuid Tobin, Philip Walsh, Tommy Lynch Cormac O’Grady and Emmett Gaffney.

Football in Kerry is a religion and it is seldom if ever you see a poor team represent the county and this Ardfert team will travel to Dungarvan believing they can win.

Brickeys however will be playing in a setting that they will be very familiar with and with a large vocal home support (hopefully) it could well prove to be the difference in helping them move to the next phase of the competition.