2006 SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
12 November 2006
Nire 1-5 Stradbally 0-3
By John Murphy
THE Nire ended Stradbally's dream of landing a record breaking sixth Waterford SFC title in yesterday's decider at Fraher Field, Dungarvan.
The decisive score came deep into added time when sub Diarmuid Wall cracked home a goal sparking a mass brawl involving more than 20 players.
The intense rivalry was evident from the outset. In fairness to both sides it was the only major incident in a game that was, however, uncompromising.
As a spectacle the game never measured up to all its pre match hype, and the pressure of trying to land the elusive sixth successive title seemed to upset Stradbally.
All credit however to the Nire who displayed the greater hunger and commitment as they took the game determinedly to the champions. They were never in arrears from the opening minute when Connie Power pointed a free, but in the end they owe their fifth title win to a magnificent defence.
Individually and collectively all six were superb but most especially the full back trio of Justin Walsh and Thomas and Maurice O'Gorman who stood defiant as the champions laid siege to the Nire goal area in the second half. Any one of the three would have been a worthy "man of the match' choice but there will be no argument with it going to Maurice O'Gorman.
Tony Gray cancelled out Power's opening point with a fisted effort in the second minute that proved to be Stradbally's only score of the half.
The Nire managed just three more points before the break from frees by Brian Wall and Power and a one from play by Liam Lawlor and their advantage looked far from unassailable.
Niall Curran pointed a 34th minute free, but that was as close as they were to get despite all the pressure they piled onto the Nire defence. Power and Lawlor dropped back to lend valuable support, and with Shane Walsh thundering into it at midfield, the challengers slowly began to lift the siege.
They had to wait all of 24 minutes into the half before adding to their tally but it was a score worthy of winning any final, a magnificent effort from an acute angle into the teeth of the wind by the now rampant Shane Walsh. And though Stradbally replied almost immediately with a fine score from Stephen Cunningham it was to be their last salvo.
They did come close to what might well have been a sensational winning goal when 'keeper Tom Flynn managed to fist a Tony Gray effort onto the crossbar before it was swept to safety, and then two minutes into added time Wall's goal settled the issue and left Stradbally's dream of history in tatters.
Scorers: Nire: D. Wall (1-0); C. Power (0-2, frees); B. Wall (free), L. Lawlor, S. Walsh (0-1) each. Stradbally: T. Gray, N. Curran (free), S. Cunningham (free) 0-1 each.
NIRE: T. Flynn; J. Walsh, T. O'Gorman, M. O'Gorman; J. Moore, D. Ryan, B. Wall; A. O'Gorman, S. Walsh; A. Ryan, P. Walsh, M. Walsh; C. Power, L. Lawlor, M. Moore.
Subs: D. Wall for A. Ryan; P. Prendergast for M. Moore.
STRADBALLY: E. Cunningtham; E. Cummins, K. Coffey, O. Costelloe; T. Gray, T. Costelloe, D. Doyle; M. Walsh, J. Hearne; G. Walsh, G. Power, J. Coffey; N. Curran, P. Foley, S. Cunningham.
Subs: S. Lannon for T. Costelloe; T. Curran for G. Walsh; P. Weldon for Foley.
Referee: Tim O'Byrne, Erins Own.
05 November 2006
Awesome Curran steers Stradbally to sixth final
Stradbally 2-7 Ballinacourty 1-6
By John Murphy
THE resilience of five-in-a-row champions Stradbally extricated them yet again from another tricky situation in yesterday's Waterford senior football championship semi-final in Dungarvan, when they carved out a four-point victory over Ballinacourty.
A week earlier the champions chasing an unprecedented six titles on the trot had to come from five points down at the halfway stage before overhauling Gaultier. This time they found themselves those same five points adrift inside 10 minutes, and with 'Courty oozing confidence, things looked ominous for them.
After that lightening start, Stradbally began to dig deep and the recovery was kick-started by Niall Curran's superbly pointed free on 16 minutes.
Before that it was Patrick Hurney who gave 'Courty the perfect start with a point of vintage quality in the opening minute, and though Ger Power quickly replied with an equally good score at the other end, the challengers were calling all the early shots.
Hurney's lead point on six minutes was a pure gem and three minutes later his brother Gary fisted the ball to the net after his initial drive was parried by goalkeeper Declan Enright.
Declan Fives tacked on another great score and with just 10 minutes gone, the challengers led by 1-3 to 0-1.
Curran then kicked three points from frees before Mark Ferncombe gave 'Courty a measure of breathing space with a 29th minute point.
A minute into added time a high ball into the 'Courty goalmouth broke invitingly for Curran and he cracked it to the net to level the scores at 1-4.
Ballinacourty moved Gary Hurney from full forward to midfield for the second half and, relieved of the task of marking the full-back Kevin Coffey, Hurney turned in a five-star second period for the champions.
Curran's pointed free in the 36th minute gave Stradbally the lead for the first time and it was one they were never again to surrender.
Curran stretched the advantage with another point from play, and though Mark Fives had it back to the minimum with a 43rd minute free, the score of the game followed four minutes later courtesy of inter-county hurling star Michael Walsh.
Substitute John Gorman kicked a fine point in the 51st minute to make it a one-point game again and then in the 58th minute Paul Foley coolly tapped the ball to the net despite the close attentions of three defenders.
There was no way back for 'Courty despite an amount of late pressure.
Scorers: Stradbally: N. Curran (1-5, 0-4 frees); P. Foley (1-0); G. Power, M. Walsh (0-1) each. Ballinacourty: G. Hurney (1-1); P. Hurney, D. Fives, M. Fives (free), M. Ferncombe, J. Gorman (0-1) each.
STRADBALLY: E. Cunningham; E. Cummins, K. Coffey, O. Costelloe; T. Grey, T. Costelloe, D. Doyle; M. Walsh, J. Hearne; G. Walsh, G. Power, C. Coffrey; N. Curran, P. Foley, S. Cunningham. Sub: T. Curran for J. Coffey (57 mins).
BALLINACOURTY: D. Enright; J. Mullen, J. Phelan, G. Breen; J. Kindregan, L. Hurney, P. Lynch; J. Hurney, S. Briggs; M. Fives, D. Cliffe, P. Hurney; M. Ferncombe, G. Hurney, D. Fives. Subs; M. Gorman for Cliffe (40 mins); J. Gorman for Ferncombe (40 mins).
Referee: M. Condon (Clashmore).
04 November 2006
Double delight as Stradbally take another step in quest to make Déise history
By John Murphy
WATERFORD'S footballing stock may be on one of the lower rungs of the inter-county ladder, but the interest on the domestic front will be reflected in the guaranteed bumper attendance at Fraher Field tomorrow for two senior championship semi-finals.
The Nire and Ardmore get the action under way at 1.30, followed by the most talked about game in the championship so far between champions Stradbally and their biggest threat, Ballinacourty.
Stradbally are now two games away from rewriting the Déise GAA history book. Unbeaten in the championship since 2000, they made it five wins on the trot by beating the Nire in last year's decider a feat previously accomplished only by themselves, Dungarvan and Clashmore.
Never, however, has the coveted title been won in six consecutive years and while the champions have huffed and puffed a bit en route to the semi-final they are still regarded as favourites to complete that historic "six in a row".
They faced a five-point half-time deficit in last Sunday's quarter-final against Gaultier before the brilliance of county hurling star Michael Walsh, John Hearne, Trevor and Oliver Costelloe, Niall Curran, Ger Power and Stephen Cunningham rescued them.
To give Ballinacourty a similar head start could be fatal. Backboned by the Hurney brothers, Gary, John, Laurence, and Patrick, Mark Fives, John and Mark Gorman, Shane Briggs, and John Phelan, and with a plethora of minor and U21 championships in the bag over the past decade, many believe 'Courty are poised to bring Stradbally's long winning sequence to an end.
A solid case can be made for both sides, but whatever the outcome it's likely to be tense. The smart money will be on the champions but it's far from certain that they will deliver.
29 October 2006
Second-half rally sees Stradbally survive
By John Murphy
Stradbally 2-10 Gaultier 2-5
THEY may have teetered on the brink at different stages of the opening half, but Stradbally showed the resolve of true champions on the turnover as they powered their way to victory over Gaultier in an exciting Waterford senior football championship quarter final at Walsh Park yesterday.
Trailing by five points 2-5 to 1-3 at the break, the five-in-a-row champions looked to be heading for their first championship defeat since 2000 and an end to the dream of an historic six title wins on the trot.
When it mattered most however they rose magnificently to the challenge, took the game by the scruff of the neck, and dominated the second half to such an overwhelming extent that they denied Gaultier a solitary score in that half.
In stark contrast the challengers played most of the first-half football and eased impressively into a 0-4 to 0-1 lead midway through the half.
Stradbally had it back to the minimum before they enjoyed a huge slice of good fortune in the 21st minute when Michael Walsh's 50-metre free was fumbled by goalkeeper Paul Murphy and the ball wormed its way to the net to give the champions a flattering two point lead.
But the best and most exciting moments of the half were still to come with Gaultier, inspired by the fine forward play of Anthony Fitzgerald, responding with a brace of goals that well and truly rocked the champions.
The first, a score of vintage quality, came in the 27th minute when Fitzgerald brilliantly found the net and sixty seconds later he scored his second to give the challengers that handy and deserved five-point cushion at the break.
It was a very different Stradbally however that re-emerged for the second half. The switch of John Hearne from centre back to midfield was to be hugely influential in the eventual outcome and along with county hurling star Michael Walsh, they lorded it over a succession of different pairings.
Points from George Walsh, Stephen Cunningham, and Niall Curran ate into the Gaultier lead, and it was down to the minimum in the 52nd minute when Curran pointed a 40-metre free.
The champions smelled victory and they pushed forward even more relentlessly in pursuit of it. There was almost an inevitability about Curran's superb 54th minute equaliser, and though their lead point from an irrepressible Ger Power didn't come until the 59th minute the Gaultier resistance had by now all but crumbled.
To eradicate any lingering doubts about the outcome Power soloed through for their second goal a minute into added time, and that super second half comeback ended with defender Tony Gray scoring a quality point to copper-fasten his side's place in the next Sunday's semi-final.
Scorers Stradbally; G. Power(1-2); M. Walsh(1-1, 1-0 free); N. Curran (0-3, 0-1 free); J. Coffey, G. Walsh, S. Cunningham, T. Gray(0-1) each.
Gaultier; A. Fitzgerald(2-3, 0-2 frees); C. O'Riordan, B. Mullane(0-1) each.
STRADBALLY:E. Cunningham; D. Doyle, K. Coffey, E. Cummins; T. Gray, J. Hearne, T. Costelloe; M. Walsh, G. Walsh; J. Coffey, G. Power, P. Weldon; N. Curran, P. Foley, S. Cunningham; Subs; O. Costelloe for Weldon; T. Curran for Foley.
GAULTIER:P. Murphy; P. Carroll, R. Hearne, R. McDonagh; T. Dunphy, A. Kirwan, E. Kirwan; C. O'Riordan, B. Mullane; W. Hutchinson, R. Walsh, G. O'Connor; JJ. Hutchinson, A. Fitzgerald, P. Fitzgerald; Subs; A. Moloney for E. Kirwan; W. Walsh for P. Fitzgerald; S. Hearne for Mullane.
Referee: Stan Flynn, Fenor.
The county minor football final between the same two clubs was a thrilling curtain-raiser and fittingly ended in a 1-7 all draw.
Gaultier led by 1-4 to 0-3 at half time with Mark Hayden's goal the decisive score. They still held that four point advantage into the closing stages when Christopher Casey emerged as the Stradbally hero scoring a beauty of a point and then a well taken and deserved equalising goal.
Five minutes of additional time failed to produce a winning score and both sides fittingly lived to fight another day.
Friday, April 2006 :
GAA: Champions' relentless march goes on
STRADBALLY 1-17 RING 0-6
THE Stradbally footballing juggernaut rolls relentlessly on. Ring provided stern resistance for half of this senior championship group game at Fraher Field last Saturday evening, but once the champions moved up a gear they simply coasted to an effortless victory that ensures them a place in the knock out quarter final stage of the title race.
In the end their victory was close enough to facile, but for lengthy stages of a hugely competitive and exciting opening half the possibility of a major shock existed. Showing scant regard for the reputation of the five-in-a-row champions, Ring took the game determinedly to them, and they were decidedly unlucky to retire at the interval break trailing by two points, 1-5 to 0-6.
It had been a first half of fluent and open football with Ring looking every bit as good as the champions. The fans no doubt looked forward to more of the same on the turnover, but instead Ring completely faded away as Stradbally turned on the power and the issue had been decided long before the hour had run its course.
It was as complete a transformation as it was unexpected, but credit the winners with a really impressive second half showing, compelling evidence let it be said that they are not yet ready to part with that coveted title which they have guarded so zealously for the last half decade.
It took Ring less than sixty seconds to open their account with Miceal O'Toibin expertly finding the range from a long range free. The champions however were level in the 3rd minute when corner forward Pat Weldon lofted over a super score, and when Niall Curran (free) and Weldon again eased them two points clear they looked to be already motoring to their expected win.
Ring however had other ideas and they were level by the 10th minute through points from Shane O'Ceallaigh and Sean "Jack'' O'hArtaigh, and by the end of the opening quarter had forged into a 0-5 to 0-3 lead with further quality scores from O'Toibin and O'Ceallaigh.
The see saw trend of the game continued with Paul Foley and Curran restoring scoring equality for the champions before George Walsh scored the only goal of the game on twenty three minutes when he was set up by John Hearne and provided the clinical finish from close range.
The Ring response however was instant and impressive with the excellent Liam O'Lionain chipping in with the point of the match Ironically however it was to be their last contribution to the scoreboard. Weldon was denied a Stradbally goal in the final seconds of the half by a brilliant save by goalkeeper Tomas O Cadhla but not withstanding that let off Ring would have felt hard done to go in at the break those two points adrift.
The expectation of a second half battle royal sadly failed to materialise however, with Stradbally quickly imposing themselves on the game and showing just why they have been unbeaten for so long.
Curran (2), John Coffey, and Foley, all reeled off points inside ten minutes, and with wing back Tony Grey able to afford the luxury of moving up field to slot over a brace of great points it was a measure of the dominance the champions were now enjoying. Try as they might Ring couldn't prize open a rock solid defence, and with the champions speedy forwards almost effortlessly finding the range it was all plain sailing en route to yet another victory.
Liam O'Lionain, Shane O'Ceallaigh, and Miceal O'Toibin stood out for Ring, but their best efforts still fell far short of what would have been necessary to put the well-balanced champions under any kind of serious pressure. The most compelling message on the night was that Stradbally and their title won't be easily parted.
Scorers for Stradbally: N. Curran (0-7); P. Foley (0-3); P. Weldon (0-3); G. Walsh (1-0); T. Grey (0-2); J. Coffey (0-1); M. Walsh (0-1).
Ring: M. O'Toibin (0-2); S. O'Ceallaigh (0-2); L. O'Lionain (0-1); S. O'hArtaigh (0-1).
STRADBALLY: E. Cunniingham; O. Costelloe. K. Coffey. T. Walsh; S. Lannon. T. Costelloe. T. Grey; M. Walsh. J. Hearne; J. Coffey. G. Power. G. Walsh; N. Curran. P. Foley. P. Weldon.
RING: T. O'Cadhla; L. O'Muiri. D. Breathnach. E. De Faoite; L. De Gras. E. Breathnach. E. O'Crotaigh; S. O'Ceallaigh. L. O'Lionain; M. O'Toibin. S. OhArtaigh. C. O'Manachain; S. MacCraith. G. Breathnach. P. O'Murchadha; Subs; M. S. O'Murchu for O'Manachain; B. Breath-nach for O'hArtaigh.
Referee: Pat Casey, Affane.
Friday, April 21, 2006 :
GAA: Champions off to an impressive start
STRADBALLY 3-14 ST. SAVIOURS 1-7
Stradbally's quest for a record breaking sixth consecutive senior title got off to the best possible start in Kill on Friday last as the champions wore down a battling St. Saviours side to come away with a thirteen point victory. It was by no means an easy game for the champions as Saviours made them work hard for every score but the city side's shortcomings in attack meant that they were never going to compete on the scoreboard with the class and individual brilliance of the Stradbally attack.
Saviours needed a good start to get into this game and they almost got it when Nicky Jacob was put through from the throw-in but his shot dropped just short of target. A foul on Ger Power resulted in Niall Curran opening the scoring in the second minute and it took a brilliant save by Paul Holohan to deny John Coffey a goal a minute later. Pat Weldon had Stradbally's second point in the 4th minute but Saviours always looked dangerous when they put pressure on a nervous looking Stradbally defence with Nicky Jacob posing the biggest threat. Tony Corcoran sent over Saviours first point from a free following a foul on Jacob in the 6th minute and at this stage they were matching the champions in the outfield exchanges. When it came to scoring however the edge was very much with Stradbally.
Following an exchange of points from frees between Curran and Corcoran Stradbally began to widen the gap at the end of the first quarter with points from Ger Power and Niall Curran and it looked ominous for Saviours when John Coffey was fouled in front of the posts and the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. Michael Walsh stepped up to take the kick and was very wide of the target.
In the 22nd minute Walsh got an opportunity to make amends when John Coffey was dispossessed in front of the posts illegally, in the opinion of the referee, who awarded Stradbally a hotly disputed second penalty. Once again Walsh failed to convert as Paul Holohan made the save only for George Walsh to follow up and tap the rebound to the net. It was a hammer blow for Saviours but they refused to bow and hit back with points from John Paul Jacob and a Tony Corcoran free to finish four points in arrears at he break on a 1 - 5 to 0 - 4 score line.
The opening minute of the second half saw an early exchange of points between Niall Curran and John Doyle but Saviours missed a great chance to really put the pressure on the champions when Nicky Jacob's effort from close range just shaved the outside of the far post with the goalkeeper beaten. The miss was to prove costly indeed as Ger Power sent over a point in the 33rd minute and a minute later Paul Foley's perfect pass saw the same player through for a brilliant goal. From then on there was no way back for Saviours though Nicky Jacob replied with a point in the 36th minute.
With Paul Foley emerging as the big play maker for Stradbally the pressure on the Saviours defence mounted as Niall Curran added two more points to his total. It was Foley again, in the 46th minute, who opened the Saviours defence to let Pat Weldon through for his side's third goal and with five minutes remaining Stradbally's lead stood at 3 - 11 to 0 - 7.
Saviours had some consolation when John Paul Jacob capitalised on a defensive error to slot home a goal in the 56th minute but Stradbally kept up the pressure to finish strongly with two late points from Niall Curran and one from John Coffey for a decisive win.
Scorers:- Stradbally - N. Curran 0-10, G. Power 1-2, P. Weldon 1-1, G. Walsh 1-0, J. Coffey 0-1. St. Saviours - J. P. Jacob 1-1, T. Corcoran 0-4, N. Jacob and J. Doyle 0-1 each.
STRADBALLY - E. Cunningham, O. Costelloe, K. Coffey, T. Walsh, S. Lannon, T. Costelloe, T. Grey, M. Walsh, J. Hearne, J. Coffey, G. Power, G. Walsh, N. Curran, P. Foley, P. Weldon.
ST. SAVIOURS - P. Holohan, K. Murphy, A. Power, D. Power, B. Power, B. Power, W. Webster, A. Jacob, J. P. Jacob, M. O'Brien, D. Touhy, J. Doyle, T. Corcoran, N. Jacob, M. Brophy, D. Murphy. Subs - T. Whelan for K. Murphy, B. Jacob for D. Power.
Ref.: B. Power(Mount Sion).