Rival captains Willie Kelly (Clerihan) and Seamus Hickey (Boherlahan/Dualla) with referee Seanie Peters before today's County JFC B semi-final at Killenaule.
County Tipperary Junior B Football Championship Semi-Final
BOHERLAHAN/DUALLA 1-6 0-5 CLERIHAN
In atrocious conditions for football at Killenaule this afternoon (Saturday) Boherlahan/Dualla booked their place in next weekend’s county decider by virtue of a hard-earned victory over first-time South Division winners Clerihan. It sets the Mid champions up for a novel and somewhat surreal county final against their near-neighbours – and arch-rivals on the hurling field – Cashel King Cormacs; this time however there won't be a hurley or a sword crossed.
Today’s semi-final as a result of being played in a constant downpour on an already sodden pitch, was never going to be a spectacle and so it turned out to be. When adding difficult underfoot conditions on a slippery surface with a football that was almost impossible to catch cleanly, it was a credit to both teams that they managed to serve up a competitive encounter at all.
In the end it was the physical strength of the Boherlahan side, aided by a rather softly conceded goal by Clerihan, that edged the Mid side home at the end of a dour battle. But there was no doubting that the better side had triumphed, and they should have won more easily than the eventual four points margin had they converted a portion of the 10 wides they kicked over the hour. Clerihan on the other hand, perhaps a reflection of their possession, kicked just two.
Boherlahan’s Fionn McCullagh at centre-back kicked the game’s opening score inside 90 seconds – McCullagh in a hard-working effort from start to finish, would go on to be his side’s most influential player by day’s end.
Clerihan then got off the mark when a free won by Jack Kennedy was converted by Alan O’Donnell after six minutes to tie up the game.
The Boherlahan/Dualla football team who defeated Clerihan in the County JFC B semi-final at Killenaule this afternoon. They will play Cashel KC in the final next weekend.
A brace of superb points, both kicked by ciotóg Colm O’Dwyer, the first from 40 metres, edged Boherlahan two up by the end of the first quarter. Indeed the Mid men could have been clearer still had a James O’Sullivan’s goal chance not went narrowly wide in the 10th minute after a superb pass from James Kirby had created the opportunity.
For all their dominance of possession Boherlahan were hauled back to parity by the 25th minute following two points, both from Adam O’Donnell, one from a free and the other from play after a quick free by Sean Maher put the skilful O’Donnell through.
At this stage the South champions would have been the happier, with a tally of 7-1 wides against Boherlahan, but the Mid side redeemed themselves somewhat before the break with two fine points.
Three minutes before the break the influential Cathal Darcy landed a nice point at the end of an good inter-passing move from defence, and then with time almost up Joe Ryan landed huge point from 45 metres to send his side in at the break leading 0-5 to 0-3.
Both sides introduced changes at the interval, with Clerihan in particular adding some physicality to a full-forward line that had got little or no change in the opening half against a dominant Boherlahan inside line led by Jack Maher at full-back.
An Andrew O’Donnell’s free edged his side within a point five minutes into the second half but it was to be as near as they would get. The game’s decisive score was to soon follow.
Cathal Darcy earned Boherlahan a free out towards the sideline which eventually it was decided Joe Ryan would attempt from his hands. The midfielder’s high dropping effort wasn’t dealt with by the Clerihan keeper and crashed back off the upright hitting an unlucky defender on the way to the net. On a day of such stamina sapping conditions this was to be a massive boost for the Mid side and a setback from which an inexperienced Clerihan team never recovered.
The Clerihan team and mentors prior to today's County JFC B semi-final against Boherlahan/Dualla at Killenaule.
All Clerihan could muster after that was a '45' converted by Adam O’Donnell in the 40th minute, itself a feat on such a heavy day; credit also to Oisin Ryan’s brave block which conceded the ‘45’ in the first place but perhaps saved a possible green flag also.
Both sides huffed and puffed for the last 20 minutes of the game but the physicality of the Boherlahan/Dualla side and the little extra that their substitutes brought with them was enough to see them hold their advantage to the final whistle, a few desperate late attacks by the South champions meeting dogged resistance.
The game’s final score came five minutes from time when a long range free by substitute Mark Phelan went all the way over; it had appeared a square ball infringement at the time but referee Seanie Peters correctly allowed it on the basis that it carried all the way.
Boherlahan/Dualla were reduced to 14 men in the last couple of minutes, when Fionn McCullagh took a second yellow, more a testimony to his trojan efforts all day than anything else. It was so late in the game that it made no difference.
Referee Seanie Peters deserves mention for doing a good job on what was a testing day in every sense.
Boherlahan/Dualla can now look forward to a county junior football final on Sunday next against Cashel King Cormacs. It would be a welcome consolation for the club if they could wrap up 2017 with a county football crown in the same year that their famed hurling club has been relegated to junior hurling ranks for the first time next year.
It was a solid performance by the winners in testing conditions and as a team they battled and worked harder throughout with their strength on the ball and in the tackle significant against a younger and lighter Clerihan outfit.
In defence Fionn McCullagh was immense at centre-back while Jack Maher, Niall Manton and Seamie Leahy also worked well in the back division. Joe Ryan and John Dwyer topped the midfield sector while in the forwards Cathal Darcy, James O’Sullivan and Colm O’Dwyer put in huge games. All the subs introduced had their moments which contributed to the hard-earned victory also.
For Clerihan, a young club making great strides, they will have to make do with a South title for 2017, their first at adult level in 51 years. Of lighter physicality, the conditions of the weather and field didn’t suit them but they stayed with the more dominant opposition right to the end but the badly conceded early second half goal was a mortal wound on a day of few scores.
With just one scorer – Alan O’Donnell kicked all their five points – and just one of those from open play; Clerihan needed the top of the ground in this encounter and on a heavy pitch they lacked bite up front against a more experienced and bigger backline.
But they never gave up the fight and Willie Kelly at centre-back played a captain’s part especially in the first half and others like James Butler, Andrew O’Donnell, Robert Dower, Andrew Hill and Eoin Power had their moments but overall the effort came up just short on the day.
Boherlahan/Dualla: Brian Sheehy, Tommy Gayson, Jack Maher, Oisin Ryan, Niall Manton, Fionn McCullagh (0-1), Seamie Leahy, Joe Ryan (1-1), John Dwyer, Colm O’Dwyer (0-2), Seamus Hickey, Cathal Darcy (0-1), James Kirby, Aidan Maher, James O’Sullivan.
Subs: Johnny Maher for Manton (HT); Mark Phelan (0-1F) for A. Maher (39); Laurence Hickey for Darcy (43); Conor Moloughney for Kirby (51).
Clerihan: Kevin Murray, Don Kennedy, Andrew O’Donnell, Dan Walsh, Eoin O’Dwyer, Willie Kelly (Captain), James Butler, Robert Dower, Andrew Hill, Conor Horan, Jack Kennedy, Aidan Flannery, Rhys McMurrow, Sean Maher, Alan O’Donnell (0-5, 0-3F, O-1x45).
Subs: Eoin Power for D. Kennedy (inj. 14); Dean McMurrow and David O’Brien for R. McMurrow and Maher (HT); Michael O’Rourke for Dower (51); Paddy Doyle for Butler (57).
Referee: Seanie Peters.