Ardfinnan regain best form to advance to semi-finals

County JFC ‘A’ quarter final

County JFC ‘A’ quarter final

Ardfinnan 0-10

Sean Treacys 0-6

After suffering a fifteen point hammering at the hands of Newcastle in the South final, Ardfinnan got their county title hopes firmly back on track in Leahy Park, Cashel on Sunday last when they saw off the plucky challenge of West champions Sean Treacys in a cracking county quarter-final. After leading from trap to line, Ardfinnan were worthy winners, but, they had to fight tooth and nail for a semi-final spot. With scores at a premium, the South finalists richly deserved their 0-6 to 0-1 interval advantage.

However, Sean Treacys piled incessant pressure on their defence in the third quarter and closed the gap to two points. The closing stages produced some nail-biting fare, with the leaders finishing the stronger side. To their eternal credit Treacys never gave up the fight, but, perhaps their punishing match schedule in the run up to Sunday took its toll as several players visibly tired in the last five minutes or so of an energy-sapping contest. They will ponder upon some missed scoring chances in the early and late stages of the contest.

Ardfinnan had every right to be pleased with the outcome. After their South final demise the men in maroon and white faced an uphill battle to restore their pride. Granted, many things went badly wrong for them in the South showpiece, but, their performance was poor and left serious question marks hanging over the county prospects.

On Sunday, however, they were a transformed team. They stood up to the mark and met the challenge of Treacys head on. The manner in which they dealt with a most rigorous test suggests that they will take beating in their quest for county silverware.

Forced to field without injured pair Thomas Ryan and Kieran Quirke they started the game in commanding fashion and had three points on the board, two from impressive Michael Phelan, and Thomas Kirwan, before Treacys opened their account thanks to a pointed free from hard-working Padraig O’Leary in the 9th minute.

Ardfinnan keeper Stephen Landy got down to make a brilliant save from O’Leary in 10th minute, and legendary Tipp hurling goalie Brendan Cummins was an inspirational figure. He started in midfield but undertook a roaming role and left a huge impact on the game with his intelligent and skilful use of possession. The team as a unit upped their South final form several notches, and excellent right full back Darren Bray epitomised their spirit with a beautiful score after darting upfield. Cummins and Phelan added sweet points to give their side a five point interval cushion (0-6 to 0-1).

Kieran Devitt kicked a crucially important point from a free two minutes after the restart for Treacys to give them an early confidence boost. Although Thomas Kirwan replied with an equally impressive score, Treacys had the bit between their teeth. After they eventually registered their first score from play, the brilliant Tom Hickey creating the opening for industrious Derek O’Toole to kick a 40th minute beauty they came into their own.

Hickey added a smart score himself and Derek O’Toole’s low shot for goal was blocked.

Undaunted, Treacy’s maintained their surge and by the 44th minute they had cut the deficit to two points following a peach of a point from O’Leary (free). Two points still separated them entering the final quarter, after Thomas Kirwan (free) and Padraig O’Leary exchanged superb scores. Treacys strained every sinew in their herculean effort to take over in the closing stages with determined Declan O’Toole, Liam O’Toole,Sean Kennedy, Eamon Devitt, Denis Stapleton, Greg Kennedy, Simon Kennedy, Seanie Ryan, Paudie Carey, and Jody Ryan, launching attack after attack on the Ardfinnan defence. However, the leaders stood firm in the face of mounting pressure, their six defenders resolute in the dying minutes after Martin Ryan and Jason Coffey kicked match-winning scores to huge cheers of approval from delighted Ardfinnan faithful. Oisin Flynn, Aaron Cowan, and Andrew Heffernan, won some vital possession for the side in the crucial closing minutes.

While the winners now turn their attentions to a semi-final appearance, the losers have nothing to be ashamed of in defeat. Five days after securing divisional silverware, they gave this game their best shot.

Ardfinnan - S Landy; D Bray (0-1),C Quinn,S Nagle; J Coffey (0-1), O Flynn, A Heffernan; A Cowan, B Cummins (0-1); M Ryan (0-1), M Phelan (0-3), M Goonan; T O’Mahoney, T Kirwan (0-3), M Hally. Subs introduced-G Cronin, P Bannon, B Dillon,N Carrigan.

Sean Treacys - J Nolan; L O’Toole, Sean Kennedy, E Devitt; Declan O’Toole, D Stapleton, G Kennedy; Simon Kennedy, T Hickey (0-1); S Ryan, P O’Leary (0-3), Derek O’Toole (0-1); PJ McLoughlin, Davy O’ Toole, K Devitt (0-1). Subs introduced- P Carey, J Ryan, S Reynolds.