Munster Club SFC final replay
THE GAA's competitive season signed off with a historic signature in Kilmallock yesterday when Kilmurry-Ibrickane wrote their name on the AIB Munster club senior football scroll of honour for the very first time.
Fingers were trembling in the Clare champions' camp as they clawed their way desperately through the final minutes as Stradbally squeezed forward in search of the point that would have sent this ultra-intense replay into extra-time.
They had a few chances too but were undermined by the finishing bug which had infected them badly throughout the second half.
Stradbally kicked eight wides while scoring just three points in a second half where the Waterford champions held a dual advantage. Not only were they playing with a fresh breeze but they also had an extra man for the final 21 minutes after Kilmurry's defender, John O'Connor was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Kilmurry were leading by three points at the time but, almost immediately, Niall Curran pointed a free to send pulses racing among Stradbally supporters as they sensed that their date with destiny would end in triumph.
Kilmurry were facing the ultimate test of character and, to their total credit, they responded magnificently.
Bodies flew into challenges, covering tackles became essential while it was crucial for ball carriers such as Peter and Odran O'Dwyer and Declan Callinan to take on Stradbally, which they did with consistent courage and efficiency.
Michael O'Dwyer kicked a crucial point for Kilmurry in the 48th minute and while they failed to score again, they had set a target which Stradbally just failed to reach.
Points by John Hearne (50) and Curran (60) took the Waterford champions to within a point of safety but it was as far as they got on a day when missed chances cost them dearly.
It started as early as the second minute when they were presented with a great goal opportunity when Curran was fouled in the square. Full-forward, Michael Walsh took the penalty but his shot was brilliantly saved by Kilmurry 'keeper, Dermot O'Brien.
O'Brien made another save - this time from Shane Lannon - in the second half, putting himself in line for the man-of-the-match award. However, that honour went to full-forward, Johnny Daly, who kicked 0-5 (0-2 from) play. Michael O'Dwyer was also a contender, having kicked 0-3 from play.
Kilmurry led by 0-5 to 0-2 after 20 minutes but found themselves level five minutes later before points by Michael O'Dwyer and Aongus Corry gave them a 0-7 to 0-5 interval lead.
"I felt confident enough at half-time but when we went down to 14 men in the second half, I have to admit I thought we were in trouble," revealed Kilmurry manager, Pat O'Dwyer.
"It took some effort by the lads but they really dug in. It's an unbelievable feeling to have won this title. There were times this year when we had a very small turn out at training because so many of our players were involved with various Clare teams but we kept at it and got our reward today," he added.
As Stradbally headed for home feeling utterly dejected, they were left to regret the penalty miss, the second half wides, plus the failure to exploit the extra man.
Five of their players were booked but all escaped the ultimate sanction but not even a full complement all the way to the finish could steer them to victory.
Emmett Cummins, Trevor Costello, Ger Power, Niall Curran and Michael Walsh worked tirelessly but when the pressure was at its most intense, Kilmurry had their nerve and had the resilience to hold out for the most significant win in the club's history.
Ballina await them in the All-Ireland semi-final next February but future challenges were way off their agenda as they headed home in a triumphant cavalcade yesterday evening.
Said Pat O'Dwyer: "We won't be thinking of Ballina for a few weeks. I feel so drained after today that I think I could sleep for two weeks."
Somehow that seemed an unlikely scenario for O'Dwyer or indeed anybody in the club.
SCORERS - Kilmurry-Ibrickane: J Daly 0-5 (3f), M O'Dwyer 0-3, A Corry 0-1. Stradbally: N Curran 0-4 (3f), S Cunningham, M Walsh, G Power, J Hearne 0-1 each.
KILMURRY-IBRICKANE - D O'Brien; M Keavey, J O'Connor; B Moloney; D Callinan, M Cahill, E Talty; P O'Dwyer, O O'Dwyer; A Corry, E Coughlan, S Hickey; M Hogan, J Daly, M O'Dwyer. Subs: R O'Dwyer for Talty (ht);G Donnellan for R O'Dwyer (56), M O'Connor for Hogan (62).
STRADBALLY - E Cunningham; E Cummins, K Coffey, T Walsh; O Costelloe, T Costelloe, D Doyle; M Walsh, J Hearne; N Curran, G Power, J Coffey; S Cunningham, G Walsh, S Lannon.
REF - P Russell (Tipperary).
Munster Final Dec 5th 2004 Semple Stadium
Stradbally still in the hunt for Munster glory
BY PHIL FANNING
STRADBALLY 0-9 KILMURRY/IBRIKANE 0-9
IT was almost a case of 'deja vu' at Thurles on Sunday last as Waterford champions, Stradbally, held out for a fully deserved draw with Kilmurry/Ilbrickane in the final hectic minutes of a tie that had seen the Waterford side the dominant force for most of the game.
Overall, this was a magnificent display by Stradbally against well fancied opponents and it is only their own shortcomings in front of goal that brings them to a replay in Kilmallock on Sunday next. It would have been a disaster had Stradbally succeeded in leaving this game behind them as Mount Sion did in their final two weeks earlier. Over the hour, Stradbally looked by far the better team but that is only true if you are ahead on the scoreboard at the final whistle.
In Stradbally's case they simply failed to translate their superiority to the scoreboard and could have paid the ultimate price.
SOME EXCELLENT FOOTBALL
Played on a wet and slippery surface, this game produced some excellent passages of football as well as some brilliant individual displays. In that regard, none could surpass the performance of Stradbally's Michael Walsh. The county hurler and WIT student was at the heart of his side's efforts throughout the game in defence, midfield and attack, driving himself and those around him into the ground.
Had Stradbally lost this game, it would not have been for lack of heart or effort on the part of any individual. It would have been as a result of poor finishing that could be accounted for by nerves on the big occasion. That should not be the case on Sunday next and with the same level of commitment and a week to work on kicking the ball over the bar, this final is still there to be won by Stradbally. Kilmurry were clearly caught off guard by the fervour and quality of the Stradbally challenge in the opening ten minutes and were relieved not to have fallen badly behind in that period.
When the Clare side did settle following Michael O'Dwyer's opening point in the 8th minute, they showed more composure up front than Stradbally in taking their scoring chances as they became available.
While Kilmurry picked off their points with style between the 8th and 15th minutes to go into a 0-4 to 01 lead, they never really threatened Eoin Cunningham in the Stradbally goal. On the other hand, Stradbally would not have been flattered to have converted any two of the three giltedged goalscoring chances created in the first half. KILMURRY IN CONTROL Having led 0-5 to 0-3 at the break. Kilmurry must have though themselves on the road to a comfortable victory as they led 0-8 to 0-3 with four minutes of the second half played. Spirit, however, is a byeword for this Stradbally side and they showed it in abundance in Thurles. Typically it was Michael Walsh who started Stradbally's comeback with an uplifting point in the 36th minute.
The moving of John Hearn forward from centre back had a big influence as Stradbally turned the game around again in the second half. The persistent movement of Michael Walsh, Ger Power and John Hearn backed up by the tenacious Oliver Costelloe had the Clare backs run ragged and only the lack of penetration with the final touch enabled Kilmurry to stay in this game. But, stay in it they did and when Stradbally's stranglehold was loosened by Paul O'Dwyer's equalising point, they looked more likely to snatch a winner in those final seconds than Stradbally did.
Kilmurry are a very good team, they would not be in the final if they were not. Stradbally know they have the beating of them as they prepare for next Sunday's replay. Likewise, the Clare champions are now in no doubt as to what they are p against and will be only too aware that they cannot allow Stradbally the same latitude on Sunday next to create the scoring chances they failed to take last Sunday.
FASCINATING REPLAY IN PROSPECT I have no doubt Kilmurry will up their game for the replay. Stradbally must show again the same level of commitment that prevailed on Sunday last. In Michael Walsh, Stradbally had the man of the match, while such as Kevin Coffey, Oliver Costelloe, John Hearn, Ger Power and John Coffey epitomised what some people describe as "total football" in the Gaelic code.
More of the same on Sunday next in Kilmallock and an All Ireland semi-final against Ballina Stephenites could be looking in the New Year.
Scorers for Stradbally: N. Curran 0-4, G. Power 0-2, S. Cunningham, J. Hearnand M. Walsh 0-1 each.
STRADBALLY: E. Cunningham, E. Cummins, K. Coffey, T. Walsh, O. Costelloe, J. Hearn, D. Doyle, J. Halpin, M.Walsh, T. Costelloe, G. Power, J. Coffey, N. Curran, S. Cunningham, S. Lannon. Subs: S. Lawlor for Halpin.
KILMURRY/ILBRICKAN: D. O'Brien, J. O'Connor, B. Moloney, E. Talty, M. Cahill, V. Talty, P. O'Dwyer, O. O'Dwyer, A. Corry, E. Coughlan, S. Hickey, M. Hogan, J. Daly, M. O'Dwyer. Subs: L. Donnellan for V. Talty; P. O'Dwyer for M. Hogan; M. Kearney for Donnellan.
Referee: M. Collins (Cork).
Munster Semi Final
GAA: Super Stradbally are Munster Final bound
AIB Munster Club Football Championship Semi-final
STRADBALLY 1-12 BISHOPSTOWN 0-12
WATERFORD County Champions, Stradbally, upset the form book at Pairc Ui Rinn in Cork on Sunday last when they defeated Bishopstown in a thrilling but badtempered AIB Munster club SFC semi final.
Displaying great determination and teamwork, Stradbally thoroughly deserved their victory after both sides were reduced to 14-men and a Stradbally substitute was escorted out of the playing arena by the referee.
It was fireworks all the way after Stradbally set the scene alight with a delightful goal after just two minutes.
Bishopstown had taken the lead within a minute of the start when Jack Ferriter pointed a closein free, which also resulted in Stradbally full back Kevin Coffey being yellow carded.
Then the visitors pounced for a dream goal. Team captain Ger Power soloed through and after his thundering drive was brilliantly saved by Bishopstown goalkeeper Michael Galvin, left half forward Stephen Cunningham followed up and stroked the rebound into the corner of the net.
Then the drama unfolded when referee Michael Walsh sent off Stradbally midfielder George Walsh for a dangerous high tackle on Bishopstown full forward Shane Conlisk in the 20th minute.
With Bishopstown clawing their way back following Cunningham's goal, the sides were level on three occasions in the opening quarter before the Cork side edged their way into a one point lead; then Walsh was issued with a straight red card.
However, Stradbally, with Niall Curran and centre forward Ger Power very impressive up-front, fought like tigers.
After the sides were level again for the fifth occasion in the 27th minute, Stradbally, responded in style with pointed frees from midfielder Michael Walsh to lead by 1- 7 to 0-8 at the interval.
Lightning fast points from John A. O'Sullivan and James O'Shea brought Bishopstown level after five minutes of the re-start. Now it looked like all systems go for the 'Town. But things didn't go according to plan.
'Man of the Match' Niall Curran nudged Stradbally back in front again with a point from a free in the 36th minute, a score which halted Bishopstown's gallop.
Worse was to follow six minutes later. Following a brawl involving several players, the Cork side's substitute Tomas Hayes was sent to the line by the referee who then escorted a Stradbally substitute out of the pitch.
With numbers even again, Stradbally gripped the reins of control and two superb points from Power and Curran, who kicked six in all, powered the Waterford champions to the front entering the home straight.
Although they fought bravely there was no way back for Bishopstown as Stradbally marched onto the Munster Club Final.
Scorers: Stradbally: S. Cunningham 1-0; N. Curran 0-6 (0-3 from frees); G. Power 0-2; M. Walsh 0-2 (0-2 from frees); J. Halpin and J. Coffey 0-1 each.
Bishopstown: J. O'Shea 0-4; J. Ferriter 0-4 (0-4 from frees); J. A. O'Sullivan 0-2; S. Conlisk and R. Honohan 0-1 each.
STRADBALLY: E. Cunningham; E. Cummins, K. Coffey, T. Walsh; O. Costelloe, J. Halpin, D. Doyle; G. Walsh, M. Walsh; N. Curran, G. Power, J. Coffey; S. Cunningham, J. Hearne, S. Lannon. Sub: S. Lawlor for Halpin.
BISHOPSTOWN: M. Galvin; J. L. O'Sullivan, M. Hayes, S. Murphy; N. O'Donovan, A. O'Connor, B. Healy; D. Cullinane, R. Honohan; B. Cuthbert, J. Ferriter, J. Murphy; J. A. O'Sullivan, S. Conlisk, J. O'Shea. Subs: T. Hayes for J. L. O'Sullivan; J. Honohan for R. Honohan; M. Cogan for Healy.
Referee: M. Walsh (Limerick).
1st Round Munster Championship
14 man Stradbally hold on
Monday, November 08, 2004
Waterford champions Stradbally held on for a one-point win over Loughmore-Castleiney in the Munster club football championship despite being reduced to 14 men late in the first half at Dungarvan on Sunday 7th November.
Stradbally had centre back Trevor Costelloe sent off minutes before the interval but the Waterford side held a slender advantage at the interval 0-4 to 0-3.
A free by Michael Walsh stretched Stradbally's lead early in the second half but the Tipp champions came back to draw level with points from Declan Laffan and Martin Gleeson.
Niall Curran fired over for Stradbally before Laffan scored from a penalty to put the visitors in front by two points. Stradbally fought back and scored four unanswered points.
Both sides exchanged scores but the Stradbally defence held firm for the remaining minutes of the match to secure a well earned win and a place in the semi final.
Stradbally - E Cunningham, E Cummins, K Coffey, T Walsh, O Costelloe, T Costelloe, D Doyle, G Walsh 0-1, J Hearne 0-1, J Coffey, G Power, S Cunningham 0-2, N Curran 0-5, M Walsh 0-1, S Lawlor. Sub: S Lennon 0-1 for Lawlor
Loughmore-Castleiney - D Brennan, G Sweeney, N Ryan, D McGrath, E Connolly, D Kennedy, T King, M Webster, M Gleeson 0-3, C McGrath, S Bohan, T Ormond 0-2, E Sweeney, D Laffan 1-1, J Egan 0-1. Subs: M Ormond for Bohan, D Burke for Egan
Referee - A Mangan (Kerry)
GAA: Stradbally's magical four-in-a-row
Lawlor's Hotel Senior Football Championship Final
Stradbally 2-8, Nire 1-4
IT was glory day for Stradbally at Fraher Field on Sunday last, as the defending champions soaked up everything the Nire could throw at them, before pulling away in the second half to reach that magical four in a row milestone.
This was a hard hitting contest from the opening whistle, in which quarter was not asked or given by either side.
In the end, it was Stradbally who held all the aces, coming up with the big strikes just when they were needed and showing all the character expected of the winners of four successive senior football titles.
The Nire lined out with Thomas O'Gorman starting in midfield and Martin Walsh moving back to replace the injured Anthony O'Gorman at centre back. In the Stradbally lineup, George Walsh moved from midfield to full forward in a direct swap with Michael Walsh.
As in the drawn tie, Pat Walsh operated as a midfielder cum sweeper for Nire leaving just five forwards led by Shane Walsh up front.
The hits were coming in hard and fast from both sides in the opening minutes with man to man physical jousts all over the field, on and off the ball but without anything over the top.
Shane Walsh had the best of the early chances to put his side on the scoreboard but the tenacious Kevin Coffey soon came to terms with the threat facing him and when things settled down, Stradbally began to assert their authority.
With Michael Walsh dominating the midfield exchanges, Stradbally took the lead in the 8th minute through a Niall Curran free. Ger Power set up Stephen Cunningham for a great score in the 13th minute and a minute later Niall Curran made it 0-3 to nil at the end of the first quarter.
Both Alan Lawlor and Brian Wall were wide of the mark from frees for Nire and while Stradbally enjoyed most of the play in that opening quarter, their three points was a poor return. A tendency to overplay the ball and a reluctance to try for long range points probably cost the champions a few extra points.
Nire continued to battle tenaciously for every ball and finally got on the scoreboard in the 20th minute when Brian Wall and Shane Walsh set Alan Lawlor up for their first point. That score seemed to put Stradbally on the wrong foot and forced the Reds back into defensive mode.
Shane Walsh followed with a point in the 26th minute and a minute later John Moore sent Brian Wall in from the left along the end line and he rammed the ball to the Stradbally net from an acute angle.
Nire now had the bit between their teeth and in the 29th minute Shane Walsh broke through from a similar position only to fist the ball to the net under pressure. The score, of course, was not allowed, but it was a let off for Stradbally. It was all Nire now as the game went into injury time with Alan Lawlor again wide from a free.
Seconds before the half time whistle, Nire received a further boost as a fine Shane Walsh point gave his side a 1-3 to 0-3 lead leaving Stradbally to welcome the half time whistle and a chance to pull their act back together. That they did in no uncertain fashion on the resumption.
With Stephen Lawlor replacing Shane Lannon in the Stradbally front line, Michael Walsh won possession on the restart to send the ball quickly to Stephen Cunningham. He, in an instant delivered to Niall Curran on the run and in a twinkling of an eye the ball was nestling in the back of the Nire net. It was a goal with class stamped all over it and the teams were level at 1-3 each.
Nire immediately replaced Liam Walsh with Maurice O'Gorman and Shane Walsh forced a 45, which Alan Lawlor wasted by playing a short ball. Stradbally were now playing confidently as Stephen Lawlor put Ger Power in for the lead point and in the 36th minute, Niall Curran pointed a free from a difficult angle to open up a two points lead.
Nire sent Ger Walsh on in midfield for Aidan Ryan and Alan Lawlor pulled a point back from a free in the 38th minute. Stradbally's John Hearn received a yellow card for a heavy tackle on Ger Walsh but Stradbally retained the initiative when Niall Curran was fouled in the 42nd minute and he duly punished the misdemeanour with another point from the free.
Ger Power was wide after a great build up but he made amends in the 45th minute with a great score to give his side a 1-7 to 1-4 lead that did not truly reflect their superiority.
NO GOING BACK
There was still only one score between the teams and with Shane Walsh and Brian Wall up front, the chance was always there of another Nire goal. Niall Curran, Ger Power, Niall Curran again and Michael Walsh all squandered good chances but the game was eventually sealed for Stradbally in the 55th minute.
A defensive mix-up on the Nire end line saw the ball break from a tussle across the goalmouth. Denis Doyle, who had moved to the attack, met it on the ground to drive it first time past a helpless Michael Doocey. From there on there was no way back for the Nire and Niall Curran had the final say as he pointed a free in the 60th minute to give his side an emphatic victory by double scores at 2-8 to 1-4.
The final whistle sounded and Stradbally celebrated a great fourth title in a row and the reaction around Fraher Field was that it will take a very good side to prevent them equalling their own club record of five in a row.
Once again, this was a great team performance by Stradbally in which every single player played his part. In naming a man of the match, I would find it very difficult to separate Michael Walsh, Niall Curran and team captain, Ger Power, while recognising the tireless work rate of every other Stradbally player on the pitch.
For the Nire the final result must have been a bitter disappointment. They came from three points down in the second quarter to impose their will on the game to gain a one goal advantage at the break, but they had no answer to Stradbally's quality in the second half.
Pat Walsh, as always, did everything possible to rally his side with good support from Michael Byrne, Shane Walsh and Brian Wall, but this was indeed Stradbally's day and they would not be denied.
Scorers for the winners were N. Curran 1-5, D. Doyle 1-0, G. Power 0- 2, S. Cunningham 0-1. Nire: B. Wall 1-0, S. Walsh 0-2, A. Lawlor 0-2.
STRADBALLY: E. Cunningham, E. Cummins, K. Coffey, T. Walsh, O. Costelloe, T. Costelloe, D. Doyle, M. Walsh, J. Hearne, J. Coffey, G. Power, S. Cunningham, N. Curran, G. Walsh, S. Lannon. Sub: S. Lawlor for Lannon.
NIRE: M. Doocey, J. Walsh, D. Ryan, M. Byrne, L. Lawlor, M. Walsh, L. Walsh, A. Ryan, T. O'Gorman, A. Lawlor, S. Walsh, C. Power, B. Wall, P. Walsh, J. Moore. Subs: M. O'Gorman for L. Walsh; G. Walsh for A. Ryan; D. Wall for A. Lawlor; S. Lawlor for C. Power.
Referee: Stan Flynn (Fenor).
Note: Congratulations to referee, Stan Flynn, on handling his first senior finals with distinction. Both ties were potential powder kegs, but his impartial, unfussy style won the respect of players who hit hard all through and never lost sight of the sporting ethic.
GAA: We'll meet again in County Senior decider
Lawlor's Hotel County Senior Football Championship Final
Stradbally 1-5, Nire 0-8
For the first time this year the Waterford football supporters turned out in force at Fraher Field on Monday last for the County Senior Football Final and they were not disappointed as defending champions Stradbally and challengers Nire battled it out for a hard earned draw that left both sides content to return to the same venue this coming weekend.
This was a typically tough, uncompromising championship clash between two superbly fit teams and if the scores were scarce enough there was no shortage of entertainment.
Champions Stradbally may feel they let this game slip having seemed to be in control with a five-point lead midway through the second half. The Nire, however, proved battlers and surged forward in the final quarter to grind out a deserved draw on the run of play, adding five points without reply, four of them from frees, before referee Stan Flynn called time three minutes into injury time.
The first half of this game saw neither side prepared to concede an inch of space. Players were crowding midfield as each side opted to play just two players in their front line. Nire full forward Pat Walsh was to be found carrying the ball out of his own fullback line early on while Stradbally's Michael Walsh ranged throughout as a third midfielder for Stradbally.
It was Michael Walsh who opened the scoring in the third minute with a fine point from play and a minute later Ger Power put Shane Lannon through on goal but the youngster lost possession and a great chance of a goal.
NIRE UP THE ANTE
Playing with the slight breeze the Nire began to put the Stradbally defence under pressure but Brian Wall seemed to be operating alone as target man up front and with the loose Kevin Coffey picking up the breaking balls the Stradbally defence was able to soak up what the Nire could throw at them. It took a point from a free by Alan Lawlor in the tenth minute, after two earlier failures by Wall and Shane Walsh, to get the Nire on the scoreboard. On the other hand Stradbally always looked more dangerous going forward with Michael Walsh, John Coffey and Ger Power showing a tremendous appetite for work while midfielders George Walsh and John Hearn were popping up all over the field.
Niall Curran put Stradbally back in front with a brilliant point from play in the 17th minute. Nire had a let off a minute later when another shot from Curran rebounded off the upright Ger Power and his shot was blocked for a '45' which Curran sent narrowly wide.
In the 23rd minute Ger Walsh replaced the injured Aidan Ryan in midfield for Nire and a minute later he was fouled and Alan Lawlor sent over his second point to level matters at 0-2 each.
Nire had a chance to go in front following a foul on Brian Wall but Lawlor's free dropped into Eoin Cunningham's hands and Stradbally put the Nire defence under pressure again. Man for man marking made scores hard to come by but in the second minute of injury time Nire centre back Anthony O'Gorman seemed to be impeded and as he went down injured the ball broke to two Stradbally players. Ger Power ran loose behind the Nire defence and took a perfect pass from Niall Curran to blast the ball to the Nire net.
It was a crucial strike as from the kick out the half time whistle sounded to send Stradbally in with a 1-2 to 0-2 lead. Anthony O'Gorman did not come out for the second half and was replaced by Thomas O'Gorman. Nire showed great urgency on the resumption but Shane Walsh untypically shot two bad wides in as many minutes. Early Nire pressure saw Brian Wall pull a point back from a free in the 35th minute but for all their good work outfield the Nire attack could not break down the Stradbally defence as they persisted with a two man front line.
STRADBALLY PUSH CLEAR
Stradbally continued to look dangerous on the break and in the 39th minute Kevin Coffey made a great clearance to Michael Walsh and moving forward he put in Stephen Cunningham for a fine point.
Two minutes on and it was John Coffey's turn to push forward and pick out Ger Power. From the sideline on the left wing he sent over a brilliant point to open up a four point lead.
Nire now looked in some disarray as Stradbally appeared to seize the initiative. Niall Curran was just wide from a free but in the 43rd minute Ger Power sent another drive across from the left wing, straight to Curran and he put his side 1-5 to 0-3 clear.
What was significant at that stage was that all of the Stradbally scores had come from play while Nire's three points came from frees.
Nire needed to do something to break the Stradbally stranglehold around the midfield diamond and they responded by bringing their best ball winner Brian Wall outfield. A point from a free by Alan Lawlor in the 45th minute kept his side in it and in the 48th minute it was Lawlor, again from a free on the left flank, who pointed to leave just a goal between the teams.
Nire were now packing midfield and with Brian Wall picking up breaking ball, Stradbally were being pinned back in their own half. In the 50th minute Lawlor again pointed from a position similar to his earlier frees and the Nire now had a grip on the game. Liam Lawlor surged forward, drew the foul and again Alan Lawlor pointed to leave the minimum between the sides.
Stradbally made a break upfield but one pass too many saw Oliver Costelloe waste a great chance. Time was running down for Nire as O'Gorman missed a great chance to level but in the 57th minute Alan Lawlor sent over his side's only point from play to level the tie.
Brian Wall and Connie Power played a one-two to put Wall clear but his shot fell short to Cunningham. Stradbally now had their backs to the wall but they responded like champions. They worked the ball upfield as the game moved into injury time, probing for an opening. Michael Walsh, always the danger man, gained possession on the right wing and sent a high cross into the Nire goalmouth. The ball was cleanly fielded by a Stradbally player but he lost possession under pressure and both sides gladly settled for a draw as the final whistle sounded.
REPLAY NEXT SUNDAY
It was a thrilling finish to a most enjoyable game. While Nire will be concerned at scoring just a single point from play, Stradbally's failure to score in the final quarter almost lost them the game. It is all to do again for both sides on Sunday next.
For Stradbally, Michael Walsh and Ger Power stood out with Kevin Coffey, Trevor Costelloe, Stephen Cunningham and John Hearn also prominent.
Best for Nire were Brian Wall and Alan Lawlor, with strong support from Michael Byrne, Liam Lawlor, Martin Walsh and Pat Walsh.
Scorers Nire: A. Lawlor 0-7, B. Wall 0-1.
Stradbally: G. Power 1-1, N. Curran 0- 2, M. Walsh 0-1, S. Cunningham 0-1.
STRADBALLY: E. Cunningham, E. Cummins, K. Coffey, T. Walsh, O. Costelloe, T. Costelloe, D. Doyle, G. Walsh, J. Hearn, J. Coffey, G. Power, S. Cunningham, N. Curran, M. Walsh, S. Lannon.
NIRE: M. Dooley, J. Walsh, D. Ryan, M. Byrne, L. Lawlor, A. O'Gorman, L. Walsh, A. Ryan, M. Walsh, A. Lawlor, S. Walsh, C. Power, B. Wall, P. Walsh, J. Moore. Subs: G. Walsh for A. Ryan; T. O'Gorman for A. O'Gorman.
Referee: S. Flynn, Fenor.
Champions keep dream alive
Stradbally 0-10 Ardmore 0-7
A GAME spoiled by the biting wind which swept into the country goal, champions Stradbally were still full value for their three point victory over Ardmore in the second of the county senior football championship semi-finals at Fraher Field, Dungarvan, last Saturday.
Although it took them forty minutes to enjoy the luxury of the lead for the first time, one sensed from an early stage that the Reds were always in control, and in truth their victory margin didn't flatter them. Their relentless surge towards a spectacular fourth title on the trot continues, and while this win wasn't their most impressive of the campaign to date few will be backing against them in the final against the Nire on Bank Holiday Monday.
Ardmore, backed by the very strong wind, enjoyed a flying start with Billy Harty pointing a free in the first minute and Seamus Prendergast scoring one from play sixty seconds later when a definite goal chance presented itself.
Playing their best football in those early sequences, the seasiders looked razor sharp and had a third point on the board from a James O'Donnell free in the 6th minute to pose serious questions of the champions. But that was good as it was to get for Ardmore and gradually Stradbally began to impose their authority in virtually all the key sectors. Their defence battened down the hatches with Trevor Costelloe and Tomas Walsh particularly prominent. They also began to win an increasing amount of midfield possession thanks to the endeavours of George Walsh and John Hearne, while and Niall Curran was emerging as a major threat upfront.
They still had to wait all of twenty minutes to register on the scoreboard with Curran the marksman, and though they trailed by 0-5 to 0- 3 at the interval they were firmly in the driving seat given the strength of the elements that would be with them on the turnover. Their other points came from the impressive Shane Lannon and corner back Tomas Walsh who surely covered every blade of grass on the park over the hour. Ominously for the seasiders they failed to score throughout the closing twenty four minutes of the half.
The half time withdrawal of Seamus Prendergast through an injury sustained just seconds before the break certainly didn't do them any favours, and the county hurling star proved to be a huge loss to them as the champions upped the tempo of their game.
They could have had a goal within seconds of the restart when Shane Lannon's effort was brilliantly deflected outside the post by goalkeeper Damien Lenane, but they were level by the 38th minute when Curran pointed a '45' and Ger Power found the range from distance. There was almost an inevitability about the lead score, a Stephen Cunningham point, in the 40th minute, and while Ardmore created many chances subsequently they simply didn't have the necessary firepower to turn them to productive use.
Power and O'Donnell exchanged points before Stradbally hit a purple patch and well taken scores by Curran(2) and Lannon all but put them out of sight. To their credit Ardmore never gave up the battle with Declan Prendergast a tower of strength ast the heart of their defence, but substitute Maurice O'Connor's point was the classic case of too little too late. The champions held out with more than a modicum of ease and must now be odds on favourites to complete that championship fourtimer. Scorers for Stradbally: N Curran (0-4, 0-1 '45); G Power(0-2); S Lannon (0-2); T Walsh, S Cunningham (0-1) each. Ardmore: J O'Donnell (0- 3, frees); B Harty, S Prendergast, W Hennessy, M O'Connor (0-1) each.
STRADBALLY: E Cunningham; E Cummins, K Coffey, T Walsh; O Costelloe, T Costelloe, D Doyle; G Walsh, J Hearne; J Coffey, G Power, S Cunningham; N Curran, M Walsh, S Lannon.
ARDMORE: D Lenane; A Flavin, M Supple, C O'Connor; N Hennessy, D Prendergast, R Hennessy; W Hennessy, S Dower; S Prendergast, Cathal Hennessy, N O'Brien; J O'Donnell, Clinton Hennessy, B Harty; Subs: J Hennessy for S Prendergast (inj); A Ahearne for Flavin; J Conway for Dower; M O'Connor for O'Brien.
Referee: Pat Moore, Abbeyside.
Round 2 Quarter Final
GAA: Stradbally charge forward for forth football title
Senior Football Championship
Stradbally 2-6, Ballyinacourty 1-7
Although somewhat below their best form champions Stradbally's relentless charge towards four Waterford senior football titles on the trot remains firmly on course after their deserved but hard earned two point quarter final victory over Ballinacourty at Fraher Field last Sunday yesterday.
Not a great game by any yardstick with the standard of football seldom bettering mediocrity, but while Stradbally were extended Fully by a very determined opposition there could be no denying them the spoils over the sixty minutes.
A flying start and a powerful finish were the main ingredients of their victory, but in between they were often made to play second field to a Ballinacourty opposition that enjoyed possession aplenty but didn't always put it to the best use.
The game was just ten seconds old when Stradbally struck for their opening goal. A brilliant movement from the throw in put Ger Power in the clear, but goalkeeper Michael Cosgrave superbly parried his goal bound drive. The ball, however, broke invitingly for corner forward Shane Lannon and the newcomer couldn't, and didn't, miss from less than ten metres. If the champions were expected to build on that early advantage, however they failed to do so and territorially it was 'Courty who enjoyed the better of matters from there to the interval.
They responded to Lannon's quick fire goal with four unanswered points, a brace each from Declan Fives and outstanding midfielder Shane Briggs to edge them unflatteringly in front by the 18th minute.
But then it was their turn to dry up in the scoring department and they weren't to register on the scoreboard again however for the remainder of the half. Instead it was the Reds who raised their game and two superbly taken points by their county hurling star Michael Walsh enabled them to go in at the break leading by the minimum margin, 1-2 to 0-4.
With the wind to assist them on the turnover the champions looked to be firmly in the driving seat, but it was Ballinacourty who resumed with all guns blazing and a hat trick of points by Mark and Declan (2) Fives inside the opening five minutes seemed to have set the stage for a major upset.
But when the need was greatest the champions came up with all the crucial answers. Points by Niall Curran (free) and Stephen Cunningham brought them level by the 37th minute and when Curran scored a superb goal sixty seconds later they looked to be home and hosed.
Another Cunningham point sent them to even safer pastures, but a bizarre goal on forty eight minutes brought Ballinacourty right back into contention. There didn't appear to be any danger when goalkeeper Eoin Cunningham gathered the ball but his intended pass to a defender went horribly askew and ended up in the back of his own net.
'Courty inexplicably fritted away an equalising chance from a close in free and it was to be there last real opportunity of saving the game. Strdabally finished the stronger with the cross bar denying Niall Curran a 56th minute goal before he found the range from a free a minute later to copperfasten his side's deserved but not entirely convincing victory.
That said they are now through to the penultimate round, and clearly are the team all of the other title contenders will have to beat if the county is to have new champions in 2005.
Despite the disappointment of defeat, Ballinacourtty turned in a battling performance even without the influential presence of Gary Hurney, who was sorely missed, from an attack that often laboured in pursuit of badly needed scores.
They're still not out of contention, however, thanks to the losers group, in which they will now meet Rathgormack at the Old Boro venue this coming Saturday. Could be an interesting one!
SCORERS: Stradbally: N. Curran(1-2); S. Lannon( 1-0); M. Walsh(0-2); S. Cunningham(0-2). Ballinacourty: E. Cunningham "O.G."; D. Fives (0- 4); S. Briggs(0-2); M. Fives (0-1).
Stradbally: E. Cunningham; E. Cummins. K.Coffey. T. Walsh; O. Costelloe. T.Costelloe. D. Doyle; G. Walsh. J. Hearne; J.Coffey. G. Power. S. Cunningham. S.Cunningham. M.Walsh. S. Lannon. Ballinacourty: M. Cosgrave; P. Lynch. L. Hurney. B.Hayes; R. Hanrahan. G. Breen. M. Lavin; S. Briggs. J.Hurney; M.Gorman. I. Kiely. P. Hurney; D. Fives. J. Foley. M. Fives.
Sub: J. Kindregan for Hayes.
Referee: Tommy O'Sullivan, Cappoquiin.
STRADBALLY 1-9, ARDMORE 1-6
STRADBALLY began the defence of their crown with a narrow victory over Ardmore in Cappoquinn. A goal by veteran scoregetter, Liam O'Brien, after eight minites set Stradbally on their way to a 1- 5 to 0-1 lead after 25 minutes. At the break their lead was down to 1-6 to 0-3.
However, Ardmore battled back and a Cathal Hennessy goal with just five minutes to play, left just two points between them.
Ardmore sensed their opportunity but the Champions struck back an Emmett Cummins point was enough to seal three point win.
Scorers for Stradbally: L. O'Brien 1-4, J. Coffey 0-2, M. Walsh, G. Walsh and E. Cummins 0-1 each. Ardmore: C. Hennessy 1-1, B. Harty 0-3, W. Hennessy and J. O'Donnell 0-1 each.
STRADBALLY: K. Cunningham, E. Cummins, K. Coffey, T. Walsh, O. Costelloe, T. Costelloe, D. Doyle, J. Hearn, G. Walsh, J. Coffey, G. Power, S. Cunningham, L. O'Brien, M. Walsh, P. Kiely. Sub: N. Curran for Kiely.
ARDMORE: D. Lennane, A. Flavin, M. Supple, C. O'Connor, N. Hennessy, D. Prendergast, R. Hennessy, W. Hennessy, S. Prendergast, J. O'Donnell, J. Hennessy, Cathal Hennessy, B. Harty, Clinton Hennessy, J. Conway. Subs: P. Beausang for O'Donnell; A. North for O'Connor