Aherlow Gaels keep their composure to advance

Aherlow Gaels 3-14 Thomas MacDonagh’s 3-4

Aherlow Gaels 3-14 Thomas MacDonagh’s 3-4

Aherlow Gaels had ten points to spare over Thomas MacDonagh’s on Saturday evening last in the County Senior Football Championship Preliminary Quarter Final at Holycross.

This game was decided in a whirlwind five minute spell at the three quarter mark. Tied at half-time, Aherlow had emerged from the interval the stronger team and developed a three point advantage. In a swift counter attack MacDonagh’s thought they had drawn level as they found the back of the net only for the referee to adjudge the ball was hand passed over the line. Unhappy with this decision the north Tipperary men found it difficult to control their emotions.

In the space of three minutes they were reduced to 13 players, having two men sent off for what could only have been verbals as neither challenge was excessively robust. Two goals were fired in within a minute of the second sending off. Firstly, Barry Grogan dispatched a penalty derived from the second dismissal. In the very next passage of play, powering through the centre at pace Sean Kiely buried a shot from 14 yards out to all but seal victory.

The match had opened with Thomas MacDonagh’s firing out of the blocks and stunning their opponents with two goals in as many minutes. The first was a touch fortuitous as a blocked point attempt fell kindly into the path of Philip Austin who swung a leg at the ball and managed to prod it into the corner of the net. Seconds later Gordon Harding blasted a penalty to the back of the net and the North Tipperary men had the perfect start.

Struggling badly to break the opposition down, Aherlow were given the jolt in the arm they required as Sean Cunningham was taken down for their first penalty of the day. Grogan put it in the top corner with an unstoppable strike. From here the Gaels picked off points most notably a couple of beautifulefforts from Thomas Hanley to leave the teams tied at the break 1-6 to 2-3.

Momentum favoured Aherlow in the early stages of the second period but their shooting left a lot to be desired converting one of their first seven attempts in a ten minute spell. Barry Grogan then supplied two points one from a free and one from close range under pressure.

Then the storm of the disallowed goal arrived. During this period the West Tipp men kept their composure well and converted their goals with aplomb. There was time remaining for Philip Austin to score the goal of the evening. The Borrisokane man soloed for 50 yards before converting to the corner of net with a right footed strike. This proved to be a mere consolation as Aherlow eased to victory in the closing stages.

Aherlow Gaels: G Peters; M Hanley, J Hennessy, T O’Donoghue; S Mullins, C McDonald, S Cunningham; T Hanley (0-4), M Russell (0-1); S Kiely (1-1), B Grogan (2-7, 2-0 Pens, 0-5F, 0-1-45), L Coskernan; B O’Brien, T Fahey (0-1), E O’Connell. Subs: A Leahy for B O’Brien (49), M Kenny for T Fahey (50), S Moloney for T O’Donoghue (51), P Power for E O’Connell (51).

Thomas MacDonagh’s: J McDonnell; S Davis, D Buckley, B Davis; E Flynn, P O’Meara, J Carroll; Gary Ryan, A Austin; G Harding (1-0, 1-0 Pen), P Austin (2-4, 0-3F), P McSherry; C Larkin, Geoff Ryan, A Hannigan. Subs: A Nevin for Geoff Ryan (52), B Donnelly for C Larkin (53), S Stapleton for P McSherry (53), B O’Lone for Gary Ryan (54).

Referee: Jonathan Cullen.