By Brian McDonnell at Leahy Park, Cashel
Corn an Uachtaráin Munster
Senior B Colleges Football Final
Our Lady’s Templemore 2-16
Abbey CBS Tipperary 1-9
An irresistible display saw Our Lady’s Templemore enjoy a ten-point win over Abbey CBS in an all-Tipperary Munster colleges senior B football final played at Leahy Park in Cashel on Saturday afternoon. Although Our Lady’s trailed at the break (0-7 to 1-5) a sensational second half performance (2-9 to 0-4) helped the Templemore lads to land the first leg of a potentially historic double - on Sunday, February 24th Our Lady’s face Dungarvan Colleges in the Dr Harty Cup final.
Seán Cunningham, Tony Byrnes, James Hogan and David Finnane enjoyed fine outings for Abbey CBS, but the west Tipperary outfit struggled to cope with a Templemore team which was led by a most obvious candidate for man of the match in John McGrath. Meanwhile Brian Kennedy, re-located to centre-back in place of the injured Joseph Nyland, Colin O’Riordan, Jack Fogarty, Seán Patrick Guerins and the relentless Dean McEnroe were outstanding for Templemore.
Decision-making is an under-appreciated skill. And, it was good sensible decision-making that ultimately separated Our Lady’s Templemore from a game Abbey CBS side. Take, for instance, the opening twenty-two minutes of this provincial final. Abbey CBS started in enthusiastic fashion and managed two points, but also fired four wides, dropped two balls into the grateful arms of Templemore ‘keeper Liam Murphy and saw two optimistic shots drop well short of the Our Lady’s goal during that period. In the meantime however Templemore took aim at the Abbey CBS posts on six occasions and scored each time - shooting opportunities were carefully created and the right option was selected on a regular basis.
Two frees, one from John McGrath and a second from Jack Fogarty, helped Our Lady’s into a 0-2 to no-score lead inside the opening eight minutes. Abbey CBS created a goal-scoring opportunity in the tenth minute, but Liam Murphy deflected David Finnane’s shot over before points from Thomas Nolan, Seán Patrick Guerins and a John McGrath free helped Templemore into a 0-5 to 0-1 lead by the 15th minute.
A David Finnane free cut the deficit to three points in the 18th minute before John McGrath and John Joe Ryan combined to set up the impressive Dean McEnroe for an absolute cracker of a point in the 22nd.
Abbey CBS needed to respond and did so with a terrific right-footed effort from David Finnane before the west Tipperary lads pieced together a great move which ultimately saw Emmet Fitzpatrick’s jinking run come to an end when the midfielder was pulled down a penalty in the 26th minute. David Finnane took responsibility for the spot kick, expertly sent Liam Murphy the wrong way and duly tied the game (1-3 to 0-6).
Abbey CBS’ James Hogan and Templemore’s Dean McEnroe then traded points before a foul on Ciarán Lowry in the 33rd minute handed David Finnane an opportunity to force his side into a 1-5 to 0-7 interval advantage.
Our Lady’s asserted themselves early in the second half when John McGrath beat two defenders before being pulled down for a penalty in the 31st minute. Abbey CBS’ Kevin Burns guessed right, but there was no stopping Seán Patrick Guerins’ rasping right-foot shot into the corner - 1-7 to 1-5.
Two minutes later David Finnane responded with a free, but Our Lady’s were utterly dominant now. Indeed, brilliant long-range points from Colin O’Riordan and John McGrath helped Templemore into a 1-9 to 1-6 lead by the 38th minute.
Then, in the 45th minute, John McGrath scored the point of the game when he played a ’45 backward to wing-back Jason Ryan and accepted a return pass before landing a terrific left-footed effort from distance. Jack Fogarty (free) and Colin O’Riordan added to the Our Lady’s tally and Templemore led by six (1-12 to 1-6).
With six to play David Finnane landed Abbey CBS’ first point from play since the 28th minute to cut the deficit to five, but Our Lady’s responded almost immediately with points from Jack Fogarty and Emmet Maloney. Two Abbey CBS frees reduced Templemore’s lead to five points as this encounter ticked into injury time before Jack Fogarty landed an absolute cracker of a point following terrific work from Dean McEnroe to leave six between them.
In the 63rd minute Abbey CBS centre-back Ed O’Meara was sent off following a second bookable offence.
By that stage Abbey CBS must have been praying for the final whistle, but there was still plenty to come from Our Lady’s. A Jack Fogarty free added to their tally before Colin O’Riordan intercepted an Abbey CBS clearance in the 64th minute and passed to full-forward Seán Patrick Guerins who buried a terrific goal to seal the ten-point win.
Our Lady’s Templemore: Liam Murphy (JK Bracken’s), Michael Campion (Drom & Inch), Denis Brereton (Loughmore-Castleiney, captain), James Bergin (JK Bracken’s), Jason Ryan (Toomevara), Brian Kennedy (JK Bracken’s), Jamie Bergin (Drom & Inch), John McGrath (0-4, 0-2 frees), Colin O’Riordan (JK Bracken’s, 0-2), Jack Fogarty (JK Bracken’s, 0-5, 0-4 frees), Emmet Maloney (0-1, Drom & Inch), Dean McEnroe (JK Bracken’s, 0-2), John Joe Ryan (Clonakenny), Seán Patrick Guerins (JK Bracken’s, 2-1, 1-0 penalty), Thomas Nolan (Drom & Inch, 0-1). Subs: (23rd) Tommy Maher (Loughmore-Castleiney) for Jamie Bergin, (41st) Bill O’Connell (Loughmore-Castleiney) for Thomas Nolan.
Abbey CBS Tipperary: Kevin Burns (Solohead), David Cussen (Galbally), Seán Cunningham (Lattin-Cullen, captain), Pearse Richardson (Arravale Rovers), Tomás O’Donoghue (Lattin-Cullen), Ed O’Meara (Aherlow), Tony Byrnes (Arravale Rovers), Cormac O’Donoghue (Lattin-Cullen), Emmet Fitzpatrick (Arravale Rovers), Mark Russell (Lattin-Cullen), Ciarán Lowry (Arravale Rovers), Dónal O’Dwyer (Éire Óg Annacarty), Darren Neville (Lattin-Cullen), David Finnane (Galtee Rovers, 1-7, 0-4 frees, 1-0 penalty), James Hogan (Arravale Rovers, 0-2, 0-1 free). Subs: (41st) Darren McGrath (Galtee Rovers) for Darren Neville, (53rd) Conor Kissane (Arravale Rovers) for Emmet Fitzpatrick.
Referee: Brian Tyrell (Tipperary).