16 Aug 2022

Killenaule prove stubborn opponents for Commercials in Tipperary senior football championship

Clonmel team get into their stride after poor first half

Killenaule prove stubborn opponents for Commercials in Tipperary senior football championship

Killenaule's Jack Hassett gets a pass away despite the challenge of Clonmel Commercials' Ciaran Cannon. Picture: Michael Boland

Clonmel Commercials 1-14 Killenaule 0-9

In the end it was Sean O’Connor who kick-started Clonmel Commercials’ campaign for a 20th county title but last year’s beaten finalists needed his brilliance following a pretty dreadful first half in this county senior football championship tie against Killenaule.
Commercials, chasing Fethard’s record of 21 county titles, didn’t look like championship contenders on Fethard’s home pitch on Saturday evening, as they trailed a battling Killenaule 0-4 to 0-3 at the interval in their first group match.
The town side’s wides count went into double figures in that first half, with at least three more balls kicked into the hands of Killenaule goalkeeper David McCormack. Killenaule were good value for their narrow half-time lead and when they extended the advantage from a Michael Doyle free a minute into the second half, the alarm bells must have sounded in the Clonmel camp.
But a change in tactics reaped an immediate reward. After a first half that saw the ball move sideways more than forward, Commercials opted to use the length of the pitch rather than its width and direct balls into the full forward line proved the key.
In the space of three minutes, Sean O’Connor kicked three brilliant points to turn the game on its head. A Conal Kennedy point pushed the Commercials lead out to 0-7 to 0-5 five minutes into the second half and their victory was never in doubt after that. A brilliant goal from O’Connor midway through the half sealed the win, as Killenaule were restricted to five second half points, all from Michael Doyle frees.
The Robins may have only scored twice from play over the hour but they asked serious questions of Commercials in the first half. Paudie Feehan got them off the mark in the second minute and even though the Clonmel side hit back to lead with scores from Aldo Matassa and Cian Smith by the 7th minute, Killenaule were level again seven minutes later with a brilliant long-range point from John O’Dwyer from a Doyle free.

Commercials’ sometimes laboured build-up play wasn’t working against a compact Killenaule defence and in quick succession they kicked four wides from scorable positions, twice from Jason Lonergan, one each from Kevin Fahey and Cian Smith, and a Jack Kennedy shot into the ‘keeper’s hands.
Conal Kennedy eventually found the target to restore the lead after 20 minutes but it only lasted two minutes when Joe O’Dwyer pointed a free after Jimmy Feehan was fouled on a darting run. Ross Peters and Cathal Deely were off the mark again for Commercials before more direct play from Killenaule saw Liam Meagher fouled from a Killian O’Dwyer pass and Joe O’Dwyer pointed the free for a surprising half-time scoreline of 0-4 to 0-3 for the Robins.
Killenaule attacked from the throw-in for the second half and when Eoin Shaw was fouled, Doyle pointed the free to extend the lead.
But that was as good as it got for the Slieveardagh men. Sean O’Connor kicked an immediate reply for Commercials, he followed up with a second point when ‘keeper McCormack flicked over a goal-bound shot and his third in a row put the town side ahead, 0-6 to 0-5.
It was now Killenaule who were wasteful, with Killian O’Dwyer and Joe O’Dwyer off target, but at the other end the Clonmel forwards had upped their accuracy and points from brothers Conal and Jack Kennedy, Cathal Deely and Kevin Fahey extended the lead to double scores, 0-10 to 0-5, after twelve minutes of the half.
Michael Doyle from a mark had Killenaule’s first score in 13 minutes but Commercials hit back immediately with another O’Connor point and he followed up with a goal from a tight angle that secured the win.
However, Killenaule never gave up the battle and matched Commercials score for score over the final quarter, with three Michael Doyle frees to Clonmel points from a Sean O’Connor free (their only score that didn’t come from play), Conal Kennedy and the third Kennedy brother on the team, sub Colman.
In the end it was the expected win for one of the title favourites, but a more complete performance over the full hour will be needed as the campaign progresses.
Clonmel Commercials: Michael O’Reilly, Tadhg Condon, Ciaran Cannon, Jamie Peters, Kevin Fahey 0-1; Seamus Kennedy, Padraic Looram, Cathal Deely 0-1; Conal Kennedy 0-3; Ross Peters, Jack Kennedy 0-1; Aldo Matassa 0-1; Cian Smith 0-1; Jason Lonergan, Sean O’Connor 1-5, 0-1 free. Subs: Colman Kennedy 0-1 for Smith; James Morris for Cannon.
Killenaule: David McCormack, Dean O’Connor, Jimmy Feehan, Jack Hassett, Liam Meagher, Killian O’Dwyer, Cian Johnson-Croke, Joe O’Dwyer 0-2 frees; Paudie Feehan 0-1; Ciaran O’Dwyer, John O’Dwyer 0-1; Tom Stakelum, Eoin Shaw, Michael Doyle 0-5 frees; Johnny Gleeson. Subs: Eoin O’Connell for Gleeson, Mark Heffernan for Shaw; Darragh Fitzgerald for Ciaran O’Dwyer, Denis Fogarty for Johnson-Croke.
Referee: Jonathan Cullen (Loughmore Castleiney).

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