Westside Column 27 September 2019

WESTSIDE

 

Clonoulty/Rossmore’s tenure as county champions wobbled and wavered at Bansha on Sunday last before Jimmy Maher rode to the rescue with a precious late leveler that sends their tie with Eire Og Annacarty to a replay next weekend at Golden.

Such was the drama of our county series last week where extra time became a familiar phrase in match reports. Borrisoleigh needed extra, extra-time up North to dismiss Burgess and in Bansha we had a double dose of additional periods with the intermediate decider also ending level before Golden eventually edged out Cappawhite.

I never visit Bansha without thinking of the late John Moloney, a friend to me and mentor to many over a long span of years. His pioneering work in the area of refereeing made a huge contribution to enhancing our games. His name still regularly pops up in dispatches about the games, almost always in complimentary terms, which is some measure of the man’s legacy.

John would have been pleased with arrangements at Bansha on Sunday. The local committee had everything in tip-top shape for the division’s big day, which drew a large attendance. And the fans didn’t lack for entertainment over an extended afternoon of hurling.

At half time in the senior decider Clonoulty looked down and almost out. Ten points adrift, that opening half just seemed to pass them by with all the smart moves coming from Annacarty. The wind had to be a factor behind Eire Og but still hardly explains the extent of their dominance.

Tom Fox started at full forward and he skipped onto a monster clearance in behind the Clonoulty defence to plant a goal from the right corner after just eight minutes. Aidan Griffin frees and a decent spread of other scorers saw the lead gradually stretch out as the half unfolded. Eire Og were efficient and economical with chances while Clonoulty had little by way of response managing just four points from play over the half.

This was dire stuff from the reigning county champions who were struggling to get traction on any line of the field. Their county reign was in jeopardy and surely there would be some kick-back on the restart.

There was, and in hindsight Eire Og will regret their slow resumption. Clonoulty needed immediate encouragement and they got it. Within a minute or so of resuming Timmy Hammersley had beaten Darragh Mooney with a well-placed shot to the right corner for a reviving goal. Dillon Quirke followed with a point from play and almost half of Eire Og’s interval advantage was immediately wiped out.

In fairness to Clonoulty they upped their game considerably in this half, winning more individual tussles, getting to the breaks and earning the frees for Timmy Hammersley to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Dillon Quirke drove a few accurate long-range frees also and now Eire Og were backpedaling trying to stop the flow.

Eventually a pair of Timmy Hammersley frees tied the game at 1-19 each, though even that score wasn’t without debate. My tally, like that of others, had Eire Og winning by one. The point of dispute was a Timmy Hammersley free early in the second half from out near the right sideline. At least one umpire signaled it wide but the score was given, apparently, though unnoticed by some of us.

Had Eire Og missed their chance? It certainly seemed so when Clonoulty had the better of the first period of extra time. But dogged Eire Og stayed in the race and in the second period a classy Conor O’Brien point leveled the match with about five minutes to play. Aidan Griffin and Paudie White swapped further points before yet another Griffin free edged Annacarty ahead with the game slipping into added time. Then came Jimmy Maher’s precious leveler from centerfield.

And so it goes back to another day for decision. In such an incident-packed ebb and flow over eighty minutes and more of hurling both sides will have their items of regret. What’s clear is that on present form there’s nothing between these sides which makes the replay a fifty-fifty affair once again.

Clonoulty as champions have been stuttering and stumbling all season. They now have one final chance to turn their season around.

The intermediate final also needed additional time but on this occasion at least we had a result. Golden/Kilfeacle celebrate a first West win since 1995 after out-staying Cappawhite in another marathon contest.

In some respects it mirrored the senior game with Golden dominating the first half before being reined in by Cappawhite after the turnaround. Six points was the interval advantage but Cappa’ really got to the pitch of things on resuming and Golden were now struggling.

The ageless Thomas Costello was in for Cappawhite and with Willie Barry a big threat in attack they had much the better of the second period. A Willie Barry ‘65’ failed to gain altitude but somehow found the Golden net; Sean Ryan finished another well worked move for goal number two.

Golden’s earlier fluency was now lacking but they dug in. Corner back, Daithi Bargary surged up-field for a valuable goal and deep in injury time it was full back, Shane O’Connell, now operating in attack, who cut through for a stunning leveler.

Ultimately Cappa’ never recovered from that blow. In extra time Golden were the steadier outfit with Josh Keane slipping back to bolster the half back line and limiting attacking options for Cappa’. Andy Byrnes remained steady on the frees and Golden deservedly took the honours.

There was more method to Golden’s game with lots of runners and linking play stretching Cappawhite. Goalie, Killian Hayde got caught for that Willie Barry goal but atoned with some useful saves. Shane Stapleton brought experience to the group with three first half points before being injured later. It’s a win that should put them in bright form for the final stages of the county.

Elsewhere at the weekend there was exciting action in both the North and Mid divisions. Up North Kiladangan, minus Joe Gallagher and David Sweeney, had more bother than many expected from Templederry. They seemed to be cruising early on but Templederry showed great persistence and there was only a few points in it at the end.

The second game didn’t lack for drama either. Borrisoleigh were hotly fancied against Burgess but were stretched to the limit. Amazingly the game went to extra, extra-time before a Conor Kenny goal finally tilted the scales Borrisoleigh’s way.

A Kiladangan/Borrisoleigh final will be an attractive fixture on Sunday and while both are already through to the county knock-outs the prize of a North win won’t be scoffed at by either.

In the Mid an upset appeared on the cards for some time as Moycarkey hit three first-half goals to lead the way against Upperchurch. However, the ‘Church steadied the ship and eventually prevailed to set up a final date with Drom/Inch who had just enough to see off J.K. Bracken’s. With the likes of Sarsfields and Loughmore absent the Mid showpiece has freshness of appeal. Drom are fancied but Upperchurch have been close in recent years and this surely is their chance to finally make the breakthrough.

In all of this there’s going to be a clash of finals on Sunday. It’s unfortunate but a consequence of the fixture scramble at this time of year. Organisers will be hoping for no more draws. The North final could be delayed, of course, because Borris’ and Kiladangan are already through, but results are needed in Mid and West where Upperchurch and Clonoulty still cling to hopes of making the cut.

The club scene is in full swing in all counties at the moment and it’s good to see RTE deciding to cover a quota of games, which supplements the excellent work done by TG4 each year. It was interesting to see a pair of Cork quarter-finals on Saturday and those comments by pundit, John Meyler.

Imokilly and Glen Rvs. won through in monsoon-like conditions but ex-Cork manager, Meyler had some sharp comments on the refereeing after Sarsfields ended with thirteen players against Imokilly. The gist of his argument was that a much more officious standard applies in Cork than in counties like Tipperary, which he specifically instanced. Furthermore, he argued, this was impacting Cork on the inter-county scene.

It will come as a surprise to Tipperary folk to hear the Cork view that refereeing hereabouts is, shall we say, somewhat laissez-faire in the implementation of the rules. All I’m hearing weekly is the opposite argument that referees in the premier county are too fussy and whistle-happy.

Had Meyler been in Bansha on Sunday last he might have noted a few aspects of interest. Between them Annacarty and Clonoulty scored 54 points but only 24 came from open play. The remaining 30 were made up of 29 frees and one ‘65’. Add in the frees that were missed or didn’t produce scores and the overall total adds up. And remember Fergal Horgan isn’t noted as a whistle-fond referee. In fact he’s more often criticised for letting too much go.

Maybe John Meyler should attend more Tipperary games to get an accurate overview.

 

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