Football Board chairman Barry O'Brian pictured presenting the trophy to Moyle Rovers captain Alan Campbell following Sunday's county senior football championship final. Photo: Eamonn McGee
Moyle Rovers are back at the summit of Premier football for the first time since 2009 following Sunday’s eight-point victory over Ardfinnan at Semple Stadium, Thurles before an attendance of 2,863 in the Tipperary Water County Senior Football Championship final.
Tipperary Water County Senior Football Championship Final
Moyle Rovers 1-15 Ardfinnan 1-7
This was a fully-deserved victory in the end for the Powerstown-Lisronagh side on the back of a dominant second half performance, but make no mistake about it they were in serious trouble for long periods of the opening half.
Bravely Ardfinnan took the game to the hot-favourites from the outset and had built up a commanding 0-6 to 0-2 lead by the 26th minute with Sean Nagle prominent around the midfield. But a crucial few minutes before half-time were to have a huge bearing on the game and instead of going in four points up The Village had only one point to spare at the break (0-6 to 0-5).
Somewhat against the run of play, three points in three minutes just before the half-time (two Liam Boland frees and a Shane Foley point) suddenly made it a one-point game.
In the time added-on at the end of the first half came, perhaps, the game’s most crucial moment. A Gavin Whelan pass into Daniel O’Regan caught the Moyle Rovers defence wrong-footed, but instead of shooting at goal O’Regan took the option to go on further. It seemed he was then, arguably, illegally challenged and dispossessed, but referee Sean Everard saw otherwise and denied the penalty claim. It was a huge let-off for Moyle Rovers and had the decision gone the other way things might have turned out differently.
Whatever might have been said in the Moyle Rovers dressing room at the break worked wonders. The second half was to bear no resemblance to the first as Niall Fitzgerald’s team totally dominated and out-scored their opponents by 1-10 to 1-1.
Such was the Monroe side’s stranglehold on proceedings that they would rattle off nine unanswered points before The Village would eventually get their first and only point of the second half in the 56th minute - thirty-four minutes of play since their previous point; that rate of return was never going to win this encounter.
Anchored by team leader Peter Acheson at midfield Moyle Rovers found their feet and their belief early in the second half with two points in a minute from Liam Boland and Shane Foley.
Now in front again for the first time since the 13th minute Rovers would never look back.
A point from the outstanding Ross Mulcahy from forty metres stretched the lead to 0-8 to 0-6 soon afterwards.
A further three points in three minutes from Stephen Quirke, Richard Power and Liam Boland stretched the Rovers lead to five by the end of the third quarter.
Rovers then began to introduce fresh legs. Wing-back David McGrath kicked a point from thirty metres into the Killinan end followed by another by the pacey Diarmuid Foley, who had just come on. And, then Danny Owens made it nine in-a-row in the 54th minute. It was all one-way traffic now.
Colm O’Shaughnessy interrupted the pattern with Ardfinnan’s first score of the second half in the 56th minute, but it was just a token gesture at this late stage.
Clearly enjoying his introduction Diarmuid Foley tormented the maroon rearguard with his second point in the 57th minute before the game was to finish with two goals.
Ardfinnan's Colin O’Gorman played in a fine pass to Paul Kennedy and the second half substitute rifled home a goal with his left in the 58th minute.
Not to be outdone the Rovers responded a minute later with one of their own. A move through Shane Foley and Liam Boland saw Boland’s effort bounce back of the post and Foley had the composure to gather the loose ball and bury it for the game’s final score.
But it had all looked so unlikely in the first half with Rovers on the rack coming up to half-time.
Billy Hewitt had opened the scoring in the second minute with a free and it took Rovers until the ninth to equalise - Sean Carey pointing the free.
Rovers hit the front in the 13th minute when Stephen Quirke placed a pass into Liam Boland and he pointed well for the lead.
Ardfinnan then hit their purple patch between the 18th and 26th minutes scoring five unanswered points - suddenly the fancied Rovers looked very vulnerable and a shock looked on the cards.
After a slow and patient build-up Colin O’Gorman kicked a super point from forty metres in the 18th minute to tie the scores at 0-2 apiece.
Sean Nagle got in around the Rovers defence to fist his side into the lead an effort which was quickly followed by another white flag from Daniel O’Regan.
Shortly afterwards Michael Barlow converted a close-in free before Barlow again did well in a tight space to kick another point for a surprising 0-6 to 0-2 Ardfinnan lead.
NOT A CLASSIC
Overall this was by no means a classic final, but that won’t bother the Monroe side having lost three finals in recent years.
Ardfinnan will be disappointed with their collapse having worked themselves into a serious position of recapturing a title they last won in 2005. But credit to them, they raised a magnificent challenge in the first half.
Moyle Rovers: Ciarán Kenrick, Paddy Morrissey, Alan Campbell, Morgan Irwin, David McGrath (0-1), Ross Mulcahy (0-1), Luke Boland, Richard Power (0-1), Peter Acheson, Dara Ryan, Stephen Quirke (0-1), Sean Carey (0-1 free), Liam Boland (0-5, 0-2 frees), Shane Foley (1-2), Danny Owens (0-1). Subs: Aidan McGrath for Carey (37th), Tadgh Fitzgerald for Luke Boland (44th), Diarmuid Foley (0-2) for Quirke (46th), Riain Quigley for Danny Owens (56th), Darragh Dwyer for Campbell (61st), Jack Harney for Shane Foley (61st).
Ardfinnan: Michael Goonan, Eoin Walsh, Jonathan Ryan, Michael O’Sullivan, Darragh O’Leary, Colm O’Shaughnessy (0-1), Gavin Whelan, Gerry Cronin, Sean Nagle (0-1), Billy Hewitt (0-1 free), Dylan Nugent, Aaron Lonergan, Michael Barlow (0-2, 0-1 free), Daniel O’Regan (0-1), Colin O’Gorman (0-1). Subs: Paul Kennedy (1-0) for Barlow (47th), Jason Coffey for Nugent (48th), Aidan Savage for O’Regan (55th), James O’Mahoney for Lonergan (61st).
Referee: Sean Everard (Moyne-Templetuohy).