County JFC ‘A’ semi-final
Ardfinnan’s failure to fully maximise first half supremacy in this hard-fought County Junior ‘A’ football semi-final in Golden on Sunday last cost them dearly as they were forced to give way to mid champions Drom-Inch in a tight finish to a close encounter.
The game played in cold damp conditions was most noteworthy for the contribution made by Tipperary intercounty hurler David Butler to the winners tally. Butler finished with 0-7 (0-6 frees). He scored from a variety of angles in the second-half as his side erased a one point interval deficit (0-5 to 0-4) to take the initiative.
They led for the first time in the match after he kicked a lovely score from a free in 33rd minute, following a foul on Joe Lupton, and they led all the way to the end despite being under severe pressure from the challengers.
While Drom thoroughly deserved their narrow victory and will take great confidence from it as they prepare for the final, disappointed Ardfinnan know they should have built on the early initiative. Well-taken points by Andrew Heffernan, Brendan Cummins and Michael Phelan (two), without reply, saw them dominate the exchanges, and signs were not good for the Mid side who had to wait until 20th minute for their opening score, a lovely point for busy Johnny Ryan.
Tom Kirwan, posing a big threat to the Drom defence, put Michael Phelan through for a lovely score to add to Drom’s troubles (0-5 to 0-1), and the South finalists were firmly in charge. Goalie Stephen Landy who made two brilliant saves in the early minutes continued to keep a safe goal, and their six defenders gave little or nothing away. Aaron Cowan and Brendan Cummins supplied good ball to attack, and Martin Ryan and Thomas O’Mahoney caused problems for a struggling Drom defence.
However, Ardfinnan failed to hammer home the initiative, and Drom took full advantage. The Mid champions swept back into contention with scores from impressive substitute Liam Ryan, David Butler (free), and Jerome Ryan, to leave just a single score in the difference at the break (0-5 to 0-4).
Seconds after the restart Drom-Inch were back on parity after David Butler converted a free. Fired up, the men in green and white took control and were well worth their three point advantage (0-9 to 0-6) at the end of the third quarter.
Superbly fit after their hurling season, they took the game by the scruff of the neck. Goalie Kieran Young who denied Ardfinnan a goal chance in the opening minutes of the game came to their rescue again, and their six defenders stood resolute.
Michael Butler, Michael Purcell, James Woodlock, Joe Lupton, Kevin Butler and Johnny Ryan toiled unsparingly, and Seamus Callanan, who played impressively for Ireland shinty team on the previous day, set up his colleagues in attack with some great ball.
David Butler punished Ardfinnan indiscretions with beautiful points from frees. Substitutes Seamus Butler, Pat Lupton, and Michael Everard, left their mark on proceedings. Twice in a gripping five minute spell in the closing stages the South men reduced arrears to two points, thanks to sweet scores, from excellent half back Jason Coffey and Michael Phelan.
However, Drom were defiant. They finished strongly after James Woodlock put David Butler through for a real match-winning score in 57th minute. In a spine-tingling finish team captain Eddie Costello made a vital interception as Tom Kirwan shot low for an equalising goal. Ardfinnan who were unlucky not to capitalise on a couple of breaks threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the Drom defence in the dying minutes. Michael Phelan cut the difference to two again from a free but time ran out on their last gasp efforts.
Drom-Inch - K Young; J Moloney, E Costello, M Campion; E Walsh, M Butler, M Purcell; J Lupton, Johnny Ryan (0-1); K Butler, J Woodlock (0-1), L Kennedy; Jerome Ryan (0-1), S Callanan, D Butler (0-7). Substitutes introduced- L Ryan (0-1), S Butler, P Lupton, M Everard.
Ardfinnan - S Landy; D Bray, C Quinn, S Nagle; J Coffey (0-1), O Flynn, A Heffernan (0-1); A Cowan, B Cummins (0-2); M Ryan, M Phelan (0-4), G Cronin; T O’Mahoney, T Kirwan (0-1), M Hally. Substitutes introduced- P Kennedy, B Dillon, M Goonan.
Referee- J Ryan (Cashel King Cormacs).