Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A win for The Nire in Pairc Ui Chaoimh is a reality.

When it comes to the Inter County scene in Football, Waterford are some way off joining the big boys when it comes to winning Provincial and National titles at senior level and to a lesser extent at underage level, but at club level Waterford club sides are up there with the best and while a first title for a Waterford side in the club championship is yet to be registered, surly it is only a matter of time before it will happen.

Maybe that breakthrough will happen this Sunday when Waterford Senior Football Champions – The Nire take on their counterparts from Kerry – Austin Stacks and the now new venue of Pairc Ui Chaoimh

The venue by the Lee has in recent years have seen some mixed results for Waterford sides playing at the venue. The defeat of the Waterford Senior Hurlers in the 2012 Munster hurling final against Tipperary is a day we all like to forget about. But to counter days like that we all remember vividly the day that the Waterford senior hurlers beat the Premier County to win the 2002 Munster Hurling Final the first for the county in 39 years.

In football, there has also been numerous days when Waterford sides came out of the ground disappointed having suffered a heavy defeat or maybe even as what The Nire experienced in 2006 loosing narrowly to Dr. Crokes in the Munster Club Final.

The venue is to have work carried out on it in the coming months, work that will be welcomed by all who attend games there, but wouldn’t it be great if Waterford has one more big and great day there before construction workers take over the grounds.

The Kerry Champions will go into the game as the favourite’s to win, but something is telling me that it is going to be Waterford and The Nire’s day this Sunday.

As would be expected, sides from Cork and Kerry have dominated the past 49 finals played. Sides from Kerry have won the competition 16 times and Cork sides have won it 28 times. The other five finals have seen Clare sides win it three times and Limerick sides have won it twice.

When it comes to sides reaching the final and not winning things are even enough. Clare sides have lost 15 finals, Tipperary and Cork sides have lost in the final 9 times each, sides have Kerry have lost 8 finals, four Waterford sides (Stradbally and Kilrossanty twice each, The Nire and Ballinacourty once each) have lost six finals and Limerick sides have lost on two occasions.

The Nire’s opponents this weekend are Austin Stacks who would be down the pecking order when it comes to predicting the winners of the Kerry Championship at the start of the year, and as I saw someplace during the week, even if they were to win this weekend, there would be others in Kerry that would be favoured ahead of them to win the 2015 championship.

In Waterford while we are all hoping with some time that one of the likes of Kilrossanty, Clashmore and An Rinn amongst others will break the recent dominance of The Nire, Stradbally and Ballinacourty who were always going to be the favourites to win the Conway Cup in 2014 and The Nire has the current holders will go into 2015 as the favourites to retain in in twelve months time barring that one of their opponents sign up a player of the highest quality which would make them clear favourites to win.

One key component is in Stacks favour heading into this game is that in almost every game this year, Kieran Donaghy has been a decisive player for both club and county and his influence has paid deviants.

Donaghy according to many is unmarkable. While he has come up against some good players in the Kerry Championship as well in the colours of Kerry it is fair to say that he may not have come up against some of the type of player that The Nire have.

Players like Maurice and Thomas O’Gorman, one of whom are likely to follow Donaghy everywhere on Sunday, are fine players. If they were playing in clubs in places like Tyrone, Donegal, Dublin or Kerry they would by now have a Celtic cross or two in their collection of medals.

However, while Donaghy could well prove to be the stand out player on Austin Stacks side, if The Nire were to pay too much attention on him leaving others to influence the way the game pans out, it is the like Wayne Guthrie, Mickey Collins and Shane Carroll could be the match winners.

In their win last time out against Cork champions Ballincollig, it looked early on that it was not going to be their way and that the Cork Champions would win handy, but the relocation of Kieran Donaghy made a major impact, as did his centre of the field partner Fergal McNamara.

The Nire already have the Conway Cup resting on the sideboard in Shane Ryan’s home, but the piece of silverware that they have craved for so often since first winning the county championship 21 years ago this year has yet to come their way.

If that trophy is to find a home in the Ballymacarbry and Nire Valley area the men in Yellow and blue shirts will first have to overcome the challenge of Austin Stacks this Sunday.  This will not happen easy as there is seldom if ever is a poor football side that comes out of the Kingdom to represent the county.

Austin Stacks like The Nire will head into this weekends game with a never say die spirit.

Both sides also share a high winning average – Austin Stacks won their games in the championship (both the Kerry and Munster) this year by an average of just over five points per game, with Nire have an average winning margin of just under eight points per game.

The Nire are a side that is in fine form of late and central to their fine run of late has been Conor Gleeson, the brilliant young teenager which former Waterford manager John Kiely has claimed to be the best teenager in Munster.

It is expected that the Tralee club will have come up with a plan to try and reduce the influence he has had in recent games, but that could well allow the likes of Shane Ryan, Shane Walsh, Liam Lawlor, Jamie Barron or Michael O’Gorman all fantastic footballers to have big games in attack, while at the other end of the field, Craig Guiry, Brian and Diarmuid Wall, Justin Walsh and the O’Gorman twins are expected to have big games.

Since the Club championships began in 1965 no Waterford club have won the senior football championship. Kilrossanty, Stradbally, The Nire and Ballinacourty have gone close. Sooner rather than later the title is going to come to Waterford. Will 2014 be the year?

The Nire it has to be said have an outstanding chance to do so, but they will know that they face a difficult task. Maybe it could be envisaged earlier in the year than another of Kerry’s Clubs would have won the championship. The fact that Austin Stacks beat these clubs to the title would suggest they are good.

The Nire will know that if they can curb the influence of Kieran Donaghy then victory can be theirs.

In the past when it came to games between sides from Waterford and Kerry at any grade in football, Waterford sides have been found guilty of showing too much respect to their opponents.

The Nire will respect Austin Stacks in the lead up to this game, whatever the outcome of the game they will respect the Tralee club, but once the side cross that white line on Sunday they will have to forget where their opponents are from. If they can play as we know they can, there is nothing to suggest why football supporters in the Deise County will be celebrating with those from The Nire and Ballymacarbry on Sunday evening.

Monday, 24 November 2014

O'Sullivan, one of many Cappoquin hero's.

These truly are great times if you are involved in the GAA in Waterford and the club you are involved with has a connection with the Blackwater River.

Earlier this year Lismore Camogie Club got the ball rolling, winning the All-Ireland Intermediate Camogie Club Championship beating Ballyhale Shamrocks from Kilkenny at the second attempt.

Throughout the year the Cathedral Town side had some other great wins at different grades, culminating in the side captained for the second year in a row by Shona Curran retaining the County Senior Camogie Championship and then going on to retain the Munster Intermediate title won for the fourth time in the clubs history a few years back.

Within the GAA, both the men’s and women’s games, there is great rivalry between neighbouring sides. There would be great respect between rivals but there is nothing like one of the sides having some success to spur on the other to try and achieve what their neighbours had done.

With a few years now Camogie is being played in Cappoquin and the game is prospering and in 2014 while not exactly achieving what Lismore did, the Corner-stone ladies had a great year culminating in them winning the County Intermediate Championship and had one of their players as the captain of the Waterford Under 16 team that won the 2014 All-Ireland ‘B’ Camogie Championship.

The Blackwater does not flow through Modeligo, but the Finisk River does flow through the parish before emptying into the Blackwater close to Dromana Bridge, a short distance down river from Cappoquin.

Modeligo too are having a great 2014 winning four different competitions and on December 7 they will play Cork Champions Castlemartyr in the Munster Junior Club hurling final at Mallow, which of course is also on the Blackwater.

But it is not just the Lismore and Cappoquin Camogie Clubs and the Modeligo GAA Club that 2014 is proving to be a successful year.

2014 is also proving to be a year to remember for the Cappoquin-Affane GAA Club.

At the start of the year they would be expected to be one of the teams to be challenging hardest to win the Western Intermediate Championship, but were not the favourites. To win the county final they would have been a little further down the pecking order of those expected to challenge to see who would represent Waterford in the Munster Club Championship, as clubs in the east of the county are often the side most favoured to be granted this honour.

However, the Cornerstone men defied all. They proved to be the best in the west, beating Tourin, Abbeyside and Brickeys in the group stages of the championship, loosing only to An Rinn who were playing senior in 2013. The Cornerstone men however would gain revenge for that defeat beating the side from the Déise Gaeltacht in the divisional semi final before going on to beat neighbours Ballinameela in the Western final at Fraher Field.

In the county final Saint Saviours, the surprise winners of the East Waterford Championship put it up to 50 minutes of that game before Cappoquin’s greater experience saw them win a first County Intermediate Hurling title since 1976.

The Cornerstone men first stab of playing at provincial level was to be a successful one as they beat a fancied Feakle side at Sixmilebridge in the Munster semi final, having received a walk over in the quarter finals as the Tipperary Championship was not complete on time.

However, all that the Cappoquin-Affane Club have achieved in 2014 and possibly for a long number of years prior to this was eclipsed on Saturday afternoon last when heading up river they arrived at Mallow to play a fancied Bruff side in the Munster Final.

The Limerick Club went into last Saturday’s game as a warm a favourite you could get anywhere on an afternoon in November. And it is easy to work out why. The Limerick County Board decided to restructure their championships in 2014, dropping four sides that played senior in 2013 to play in a new Intermediate Premier Championship this year, and promote four sides from those that played Intermediate in 2013 to make up numbers.

There is some that will tell you that Bruff were unlucky to be relegated, as many reckoned them to be just outside the top six clubs within the county, but results did not go their way and they had to be relegated. Sometimes it’s hard to see big clubs go down a division, but if results do not go their way then it has to be. Remember in the not too distant past in soccer people were saying that Nottingham Forest and Leeds United two of the great sides of the 70’s were too big to go down but they did. Some might even find it hard to imagine now that you don’t even have to go back too far to find Manchester City playing in the third tier of English soccer.

Saturday November 22, 2014 will long live in the memories of people in Cappoquin.

They say goals win games and so it proved to be in  this game.

There was only one goal struck in this game, but the name of Killian O’Sullivan will be etched on the lips of Cappoquin people for a long time to come. A history of the town and its environs was put together in the last few years. It’s a good publication, but is hard to get now, one I would love to get my hands on at some stage. I don’t know if there is any plans to do an updated version of it or not, but if there is, the story of this game will have to be told and Killian will have to be mentioned in the piece.

His goal on 40 minutes have the Cornerstone men a 1-10 to 0-10 advantage, even if they did not put enough daylight between themselves and their opponents on the scoreboard to say that the game was wrapped up before they could actually say the day was going to be theirs.

In the closing minutes of the game the Limerick side tried everything in they could to break down a teak like Cappoquin defence that had the upper hand for much of the game and none more so than in the closing minutes of the game.

Eight minutes after O’Sullivan rattled the Bruff net, there was just one point between the sides after Shane Bulfin put over a brace of frees.  Remarkably however, a further nine minutes elapsed before either side would score again, when Colin Madden levelled matters three minutes from time for Bruff which had many suggesting that the game was going to go to extra time to find a winner.

Between Bulfin’s brace of scores and Madden’s effort which levelled matters the Limerick side had their share of chances to put more on the score board but Colin Madden and Sean Finn but missed chances to have green flags waved, when maybe the sensible thing to do was to take the easier option and pop the ball over the bar.

After the game I got a short low-down on the game down the phone. I can’t say the exact words used to describe Conor Murray’s performance for Cappoquin, but putting it politely he was good.

It was fitting therefore that the winning score would have him involved. His clearance found Killian O’Sullivan one minute short of the hour mark and he fired over the winner, another reason why he will be living in the memories of Cappoquin fold for some time to come.

For much of the first half it looked as though the Limerick sides could win this game comfortably.

22 minutes into the game they held a double score lead (0-8 to 0-4) with Shane Bulfin and Jason Hayes leading the way when it came to scoring. The Limerick side twice before this also lead by double scores 0-4 to 0-2 and 0-6 to 0-3.

However credit Cappoquin, through Andy Molumby, Paul Murray, Killian O’Sullivan and Shane O’Rourke they landed scores to go to the dressing rooms at the break trailing by just one 0-9 to 0-8.

Finan Murray levelled matters early in the second half for Cappoquin but the score was soon wiped out as Jason Hayes send his side back in front (0-10 to 0-9) but it was the last time they would lead in this game.

Shane O’Rourke not for the first time this year found the range from a placed ball to level matters once more and soon afterwards when Cappoquin Keith Landers who missed the win over Feakle put through Killian O’Sullivan to hit the games only goal, at the second attempt after his first effort was blocked by Conor McEniry, which handed the initiative to the side coached by Fintan O’Connor and managed by Fintan Murray.

The Limerick side did have a chance after Killian O’Sullivan landed what was the winner to get something from the game. A Shane Bulfin free dropped short and Mike O’Hara shot wide and at the very end inter county player Paul Browne had a long range free to send the game to extra time, but his effort was off target.

Cappoquin may now take a short break but will be back in the sports field again before too long preparing for an All-Ireland semi final against Antrim and Ulster Champions O’Donovan Rossa in late January.

The Cornerstone men will travel possibly to the Dublin or midlands region for that game with what could well prove to be a huge support, not just from Cappoquin but across the county behind them.

No game against Ulster opposition will be easy. Nobody in Cappoquin will need to be told this, but where-ever the game will be played they will travel to confident of securing a place in a February All-Ireland final at Croke Park, where if they were to win, I for one would not be surprised.

CAPPOQUIN: Donal O'Rourke; Timmy Looby, Colm Looby, Patrick Morrissey; David Cahillane, Conor Murray, Shane Murray; PJ Curran, Paul Murray; Shane O'Rourke, Keith Landers, Andy Molumby; Shane Coughlan, Finan Murray, Killian O'Sullivan. Subs: Aaron O'Sullivan for Shane Coughlan, Damien McCarthy for PJ Curran.

Scorers: Shane O'Rourke 0-5 (3fs, 0-1 65), Killian O'Sullivan 1-2, Finan Murray 0-2, Paul Murray, Keith Landers 0-1 each.

BRUFF: Eric Finn; Brian Finn, Conor McEniry, James O'Riordan; Dean Madden, Cian Madden, Bobby O'Brien; Paul Browne, Jason Hayes; Christopher Browne, Colin Madden, Paddy O'Leary; Shane Bulfin, John Cooke, Sean Finn. Subs: Mick O'Hara for John Cooke, Graham Whelan for Paddy O'Leary, Tony Burke for Christopher Browne.

Scorers: Shane Bulfin 0-6 (4fs), Jason Hayes 0-3, Colin Madden 0-2, Paul Browne, Christopher Browne 0-1 each.

Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork)

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).