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Late James Walsh goal decides thrilling cup tie

Clonmel Credit Union Tipperary Cup 1st Round

Clonmel Credit Union Tipperary Cup 1st Round

CLONMEL CELTIC 2 ST. MICHAEL’S 3 (after extra-time)

Holders St. Michael’s had to rely on extra-time to overcome fellow Premier League heavyweights Clonmel Celtic in the match of the round in the Tipperary Cup after a titanic effort in atrocious conditions at Celtic Park, Clonmel last Sunday.

In a repeat of last season’s final both sides served up a thrilling cup tie in the worst possible conditions, with a gale force wind and driving rain a constant feature throughout the 110 minutes. St. Michael’s were quickly out of the blocks and hit the front after 10 minutes when Michael Rafter fired home at the far post from an excellent Richie Ryan cross. Celtic’s response was instant, levelling just two minutes later when Kevin Waters climbed high at the back post to head home Graham Doyle’s free-kick.

The game developed into an exciting end-to-end encounter, with Celtic matching Saints’ every move. Pa Quinn put the visitors back in front 5 minutes before half time with a low shot from the edge of the box that found the corner of the net. Celtic almost responded immediately again but Andy Cosgrave had a shot charged down.

Celtic upped the ante from the start of the second half as they got on top. The lively Paddy O’Donnell had a shot that was just wide on the hour and four minutes later Kevin Waters flashed a header inches wide from a corner. In their best spell of the game Celtic had strong calls for a penalty waved away in the 70th minute when a cross appeared to be handled and from the same attack the ball was cleared off the line as Celtic turned the screw. The pressure eventually paid dividends and they got a deserved equaliser after 75 minutes. Andy Cosgrave’s cross reached Brian Waters in the box, who got a good shot on target that the keeper failed to hold and Paddy O’Donnell was on hand to fire home. Celtic continued to attack and three minutes later a Paddy O’Donnell cross had the keeper scrambling to tip the ball away from under his crossbar. St. Michael’s came more into the game again in the final 10 minutes and Richie Ryan had a shot that deflected onto the Celtic bar. Celtic almost snatched it late on when Paddy O’Donnell got in behind the defence but James Walsh managed to get in a vital block to bring the game to extra-time.

In the 97th minute St. Michaels hit the front again when James Walsh ghosted in unmarked at the far post to fire home following a free-kick. Clonmel Celtic tried to hit back in the second period of extra-time but St. Michael’s held firm, denying Simon Scully in the dying minutes of an exciting encounter served up by two good teams, who deserve great credit for producing such entertainment in terrible conditions.

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