Mullinahone snatched a dramatic victory against Limerick representatives Croom in the semi-finals of the AIB Munster Junior Club Football Championship at Bansha on Saturday to set up a final clash with Kerry champions Templenoe.
AIB Munster Junior Club Football Championship Semi-Final
Mullinahone 2-10 Croom (Limerick) 1-10
While Mullinahone’s winning goal - a brilliant injury time over-head flick by Alan Curran - came late it was no more than the Tipp lads deserved as they had created far more chances throughout this contest and had they lost they would have no one to blame but themselves because of the number of opportunities that they squandered.
Mullinahone started without the Kelly brothers (Eoin and Paul) and looked to be in serious trouble approaching half-time as they trailed 0-8 to 0-2. They had as much of the play as their rivals, but some slack shooting and poor decision-making near goal cost them scores.
In truth they were hanging on as the break approached, but during the two minutes before half-time they had points from Éanna Ryan and Kevin Walzer to put a much healthier complexion on the scoreboard (0-4 to 0-8).
What a transformation on the resumption! Inside five minutes the picture changed radically as Éanna Ryan and Seán Curran pointed. Then Éanna Ryan finished a slick four-man Mullinahone move to the net and immediately added a point to force the South champions1-7 to 0-8 in front.
Croom were shell-shocked.
In the 47th minute things changed again as Mark Reidy - a huge threat to Mullinahone all through - wrong-footed his marker for a goal which nudged Croom ahead before Kevin Walzer levelled for Mullinahone as the game moved into the last ten minutes.
The excitement was building steadily as Croom pushed ahead with a brace of points, but Martin Kehoe (Mullinahone’s top performer on the day) shot a brace of points to level the game after sixty-one minutes.
Extra-time looked a distinct possibility, but in the 62nd minute a Mullinahone free by Kevin Walzer was floated into the Croom goalmouth and Alan Curran out-jumped all round him to turn the ball into the Croom net for what was to be the winning goal.
There was still time for Croom to save their campaign, but Mullinahone were not going to falter at this stage and they held on for a deserved win in an exciting finish to a fine contest.
While Mullinahone will be rank-outsiders in the final against a high quality Kerry outfit if they reproduce the spirit shown here they will make life very difficult for their rivals. Of course they would never have found themselves in the situation they were in had they done better in front of goal in both halves and this is something they will be hoping to address before the final.
Full marks to Alan Curran who capped a fine performance with the winning goal, but Martin Kehoe was man of the match with his strong running and three points from play. Dáire O’Brien, Seán Curran, Kevin Walzer, Jack Shelly and the accurate Éanna Ryan also contributed handsomely to the win.
The late goal gave Croom little time to re-group, but they will be particularly disappointed with their sluggish start to the second half when they conceded 1-3 in five minutes. They had excellent displays from Mark Reidy, Jamie Graves, Eoin Cregan, John Quirke and Mickey Cahill.
Mullinahone: Brendan Kearney, Michael Cody, Eoin Fennelly, Dáire O’Brien, Martin Kehoe (0-3), Luke Mullally, Colin Shelly, Paul Curran, Alan Curran (1-0), Jack Shelly, Seán Curran (0-1), Kevin Walzer (0-2, 0-1 free), Enda Keane, Éanna Ryan (1-4, 0-4 frees), Mickey O’Shea. Subs: David Walzer for Cody (41st), Graham Horan for Keane (53rd), Gary Cronin for Ryan (63rd).
Croom (Limerick): S Bourke, P Brennan, A Morrissey, D Hayes, D Woulfe, E Cregan, J Quirke, K Laffan, M O’Riordan (0-1), D O’Farrell (0-1), J Graves (0-4, 0-2 frees), R O’Shea (0-1), M Cahill (0-2), M Reidy (1-1, 0-1 free), J Malone. Subs: E O’Farrell for Laffan (41st), S Lucey for Malone (49th), C Laffan for Cahill (57th), T Lyons for Quirke (63rd).
Referee: A Long (Cork).