MacDonaghs prove a bridge too far for Killenaule

South champions Killenaule bowed out of the County

South champions Killenaule bowed out of the County

Senior Football

Championship at Templemore on Sunday when they failed disappointingly to Thomas MacDonaghs, a combination of North clubs, in the quarter final.

Killenaule went into this game with an impressive pedigree.

Surprise winners over Clonmel Commercials in the South final, they had every reason for optimism but they came nowhere near reproducing their South Final form against a Thomas MacDonagh combination that was in no way overawed by their record.

MacDonaghs won this title in 2011 and on this form showed that they will be difficult to beat. They failed to score for sixteen minutes and were four points behind at that stage, but they overcame that initial sluggishness in impressive style. This game will bring them on a lot and help counter the difficulty of “gelling” together players from such a scattered range of clubs.

For a Killenaule side with lofty ambitions it was a disappointing end to their campaign, and while it is true that they did not do themselves justice they can have no argument about the result. In the second half in particular they were ineffective, scoring only three points, one from a free, as they seemed to lose their way after a bright opening.

In the early stages it looked as though Killenaule were going to stroll through. Tony Doyle had their first point after three minutes and though they had a let-off three minutes later when MacDonagh’s George Hannigan was denied a possible goal by a fine Matthew O’Donnell save, Killenaule followed up with further points from Michael Doyle, John “Bubbles” O’Dwyer and Niall O’Dwyer for a four points lead after sixteen minutes.

MacDonaghs looked in trouble. They had as much of the ball as their rivals but found it very difficult to open a path through a resolute Killenaule defence. Daragh Egan eventually opened their account with a pointed free in the 18th minute and he followed up with further pointed frees in the 23rd and 27th minutes. They had now settled and were having slightly the better of things.

The goal that essentially decided the game followed immediately when an excellent four-man move in the MacDonaghs attack was finished to the net by Philip Austin. Killenaule hit back for a Tony Doyle pointed free in injury time but at the break MacDonaghs were ahead 1-3 to 0-5.

It was still anybody’s game going into the second half and when Michael Doyle levelled for Killenaule after a minute their fans were happy. There followed a dour third quarter with scores at a premium, David Young’s 43rd minute point to restore MacDonaghs lead the only flag raised.

MacDonaghs quickly followed with further points from Daragh Egan and Philip Austin to put them three clear by the 47th minute and looking likely winners. Killenaule showed plenty of fight, though, as Michael Doyle and Joe O’Dwyer, from a free, rallied to cut the lead to a point with nine minutes to play.

Once more it was anybody’s game but now the North combo seemed to have an edge in stamina as Daragh Egan, their top performer, pointed in the 54th minute and Philip Austin gave them an advantage of three, with time now very much on their side. Killenaule continued to battle but in injury time Keith MacMahon clinched the semi-final spot for MacDonaghs when he shot the insurance point.

Daragh Egan and Philip Austin were the key men in the MacDonaghs attack. Egan used his considerable presence to good effect, his distribution of the ball and his accuracy being vital to the MacDonagh cause. Austin was a constant threat and though he was well-policed by Killenaule’s James Feehan, he always looked dangerous in possession. Joe Carroll, David Young, George Hannigan, David Buckley and Joe Gallagher were others to work their socks off for MacDonaghs.

Killenaule have to settle for a South crown for their year’s work, and while that is a considerable reward they will feel that they might have achieved more. On this day they failed to reached their usual standard. No blame could be attached to Kieran Bergin, Michael Fitzgerald, Tony Doyle, Michael Doyle, Daniel Guinan and Bubbles O’Dwyer, who worked very hard throughout.

Thomas MacDonaghs - J McDonnell; J O’Sullivan, D Buckley, R McLoughney; F Hayes, P McSharry, J Carroll; G Hannigan, J Gallagher; G Harding, D Egan (0-5, 3 frees), P O’Meara; K McMahon (0-1), P Austin (1-2), D Young (0-1). Subs - A Austin for Maher; M Minehan for Harding; J Cahill for Hayes; A Hannigan for Egan; D Cahill for Young.

Killenaule - M O’Donnell; S Browne, J Feehan, M Fitzgerald; Joe O’Dwyer (0-1 free), K Bergin, G O’Rourke; N O’Dwyer (0-1), P Codd; D Guinan, T Doyle (0-2,1 free) G Kennedy; M Doyle (0-3), A Leahy, John O’Dwyer (0-1). Subs- D Fanning for Leahy; E O’Connell for Kennedy; D Blake for Guinan; T Keaveney for Fitzgerald.

Referee - Paddy Russell.