Kilsheelan/Kilcash just about deserved their victory over Fethard in the County SFC game at Clonmel Sportsfield on Saturday night last.
Hot favourites before the throw-in, last year’s South finalists needed a late-late rally to get the better of a Fethard team struggling in senior football at the moment.
This third defeat, following on from losses to Galtee Rovers and Aherlow Gaels, now puts Fethard into relegation territory. Sad days indeed for a great club who with 21 county senior titles still stand proudly atop the County Tipperary Senior Football Roll of Honour list.
Playing with the advantage of the wind Fethard had the better of the early exchanges and Kenneth O’Donnell opened the scoring with a point in the second minute. Five minutes in ‘The Blues’ doubled their advantage when Cathal Hurley put over a free after the impressive Charlie Manton was impeded when heading for goal.
Kilsheelan’s first attack of note in the seventh minute yielded their opening score from Tommy Ryan after a well worked move involving Conor Davin Murphy and Adrian Walsh. Kilsheelan/Kilcash were back on level terms at 0-2 apiece in the 12th minute when Colin Gleeson finished nicely after the hard work of Adrian McGuire.
Both sides exchanged frees with Cathal Hurley’s effort cancelled out by a Michael McHugh effort which he won himself.
Kilsheelan hit the front for the first time in the 21st minute with their only goal of the game. Pakie Larkin played a deft pass in to Adrian Walsh whose blaster at goal was superbly saved at full length by Paul Fitzgerald, however, Colin Gleeson mopped up the rebound and gave the recently-retired county custodian no chance with the second attempt.
One might have expected the favourites to drive on from then on but Fethard were in no mood to roll over.
Brian Delahunty, who started at midfield for Fethard, and put in a great performance over the hour, kicked a superb point from all of 45 metres. Hard-working Tommy Ryan got the second of his three points from play in the 24th minute to keep his side’s tally ticking over.
In the run-up to the break, Fethard’s Cathal Hurley put over another free, matched almost immediately by an excellent free from Kilsheelan keeper Evan Comerford.
The last score of the opening period was a great point for Fethard from Brian Healy with Gavan Fitzgerald the provider.
Kilsheelan went in at the break leading 1-5 to 0-6.
They extended that lead in a textbook start to the second period. Eoghan Ryan won the throw-in, passed to Alan Rockett who delivered inside for Adrian Walsh to catch, swivel and kick an excellent point. Three touches, 12 seconds, three points lead again.
Once more Fethard wouldn’t go away. Driven on by solid performances in defence from full-back Willie Morgan, Gavan Fitzgerald and Charlie Manton they withstood a period of Kilsheelan pressure and reduced the lead to the minimum by the 40th minute following a Carl Maher free and an inspirational point, the game’s best, from Brian Healy .
At the town end Paul Fitz-gerald again demonstrated his shot stopping brilliance when touching over an Adrian Walsh effort which put Kilsheelan two points to the good once again.
Five minutes from time Fethard rocked Kilsheelan with a well-worked goal. Gavan Fitzgerald and Brian Healy were involved in the build-up but wing-back Charlie Manton still had work to do in beating county under 21 keeper Evan Comerford with a low drive. The green flag gave Fethard a one point advantage and a big surprise looked on the cards.
But credit to Kilsheelan/Kilcash they didn’t panic.
Former Commercials player Evan Comerford pointed a 45m kick in the 58th minute to restore parity. And when it needed someone to stand up and do something special to wrestle a win, Kilsheelan midfielder Eoghan Ryan kicked a high and mighty point a minute from time to give his side the lead. Adrian Walsh rounded off the scoring when finishing a move involving Pakie Larkin and Jimmy Ryan.
Kilsheelan/Kilcash had secured the expected win, the manner of the victory perhaps unexpected.
The winners were best served on the night by David Corcoran, Adrian McGuire, Tommy Ryan, Eoghan Ryan and Adrian Walsh.
For Fethard Willie Morgan, Brian Delahunty, Gavan Fitzgerald, Charlie Manton, Dylan Fitzgerald and Brian Healy gave their all in a close-run battle. But more will be needed from ‘The Blues’ before year’s end if they are to retain their senior status.
Fethard: Paul Fitzgerald, Alan O’Connor, Willie Morgan, Paul Moloney, Dylan Fitzgerald, Gavan Fitzgerald, Charlie Manton (1-0), Brian Delahunty (0-1), Jamie McCormack, David Hayes, Kenneth O’Donnell (0-1), Brian Healy (0-2), Carl Maher (0-1), Cathal Hurley (0-3F), Ciaran O’Meara.
Subs: Declan Doyle for O’Meara (42 mins).
Kilsheelan/Kilcash: Evan Comerford (0-2, 0-1F, 0-1 45), Kevin Larkin, James Geraghty, David Corcoran, Jimmy Ryan, Adrian Maguire, Tommy Ryan (0-2), Eoghan Ryan (0-1), Alan Rockett, Conor Davin Murphy, David Murphy, Pakie Larkin, Michael McHugh (0-1F), Adrian Walsh (0-3), Colin Gleeson (1-1).
Subs: Eoin Kehoe for Murphy (HT); Paul Maher for Gleeson (44 mins); Shane Prendergast for McHugh (49 mins); Colm Sweeney for Rockett (black card) (61 mins).
Referee: Michael Duffy (Arravale Rovers).