Big three still in contention for league title



Wilderness Rovers 0, Clonmel Town 4.

Cashel Town 2, St.Michaels AFC 2.

The dramatic march to the conclusion of the Premier Division continued last Sunday with two vital games.

Clonmel Town moved to the top of the table with a comprehensive 4-0 win over neighbours Wilderness Rovers. Knowing nothing but maximum points would do, Clonmel Town set about their task from the kick-off. Tony Scully opened the scoring for Town in the opening quarter and another goal from Paul Shanahan had the visitors 2-0 ahead at the break. Town’s superiority continued in the second half with Paul Scully making it 3-0 from the penalty spot on the hour. The fourth goal came in the 81st minute through Shane Flynn.

Cashel Town and St.Michaels played out a very exciting 2-2 draw at a bitterly cold Palmershill. The opening 30 minutes was a very tight affair with both defences on top. Cashel broke the deadlock 37 minutes when a good move was finished from close range by Shane Murphy. St.Michaels threatened to level before the break but the woodwork and poor finishing saw the half end 1-0 in Cashel’s favour. Within minutes of the restart Cashel doubled their lead with another excellent finish from Shane Murphy. St.Michaels now threw caution to the wind and for the remainder of the game dominated. It looked like their superiority was in vain but with 8 minutes remaining they pulled a goal back through Pa Quinn. It was backs to the wall now for Cashel as they defended desparately but in the 90th minute the impressive substitute John O’Brien headed the equaliser. The drama didn’t finish there as two minutes into injury time St.Michaels were awarded a penalty but the usually reliable JamesWalsh struck the post.

The saga continues....

So the saga to the finish line continues with the big three still in the race. Clonmel Town, on 31 points with one game left at home to St.Michaels, will be hoping to beat Saints and then depend on either Old Bridge (away) or St.Michaels (home) to beat Celtic. For Celtic it is straight forward, win their remaining two games and they are champions. Last weeks draw puts a dent in St.Michaels prospects as they now need to win their remaining three games against Wilderness Rovers (home), Clonmel Town (away) and Clonmel Celtic (away) to force a play-off. No doubt they are the outsiders of the trio but they could have a very big say on who will be champions. Whatever happens there are some very exciting games to look forward to.

At the other end of the league table Bansha Celtic are already relegated and it now appears Wilderness Rovers will accompany them following last weeks loss. Even winning their remaining two games will get them to 13 points, not enough for survival. In fairness they defied the odds several seasons ago when they came up and many tipped them then for a swift return. They held their own in a town dominated by bigger clubs and played their part in no small way providing stern opposition to their more illustrious neighbours. They are still in the Tipperary Cup so the season lives on for them.

Four Tipperary Cup quarter-finals this weekend

There are no premier games next week-end as the four Tipperary Cup quarter-finals will be played.

Undoubtedly the game of the round is the clash of Clonmel Town and 
Clonmel Celtic at the Complex. No matter how often they meet these two arch rivals never fail to provide a thrilling and close encounter. Both are on winning streaks at the moment and confidence is high. Their two encounters in the league ended in stalemate but in this cup encounter there must be a winner at the end of the day, as extra time and penalties will separate them if necessary. Town will be without Levi Whelan as he serves his automatic suspension but they have a good young panel and his absence could be minimal. There may be more concern about Clonmel Celtic. What a season they are having challenging on all fronts. But they will be wary of tiredness and injuries at this important stage of the season. Arguably their best player, Evan Maguire, sustained what appeared a serious injury last Sunday which could see a lengthy absence. It is difficult to call but with Celtic minds on bigger things Town could take advantage.

St.Michael’s entertain Galbally United in an interesting pairing. Saints qualified following a penalty shootout win against Cashel Town in midweek. Cashel opened brightly and deservedly went ahead but shortly afterwards Paul Tobin equalised from the spot. Acracking goal from Michey Coleman restored the Cashel lead early in the second-half but St.Michaels again fought back to equalise through Cooper Fahy. Extra time failed to separate the sides with the Tipp Town getting through on penalties. Saints are going for three in a row but the lofty heights of previous seasons is taking its toll on this team. This added to constant injuries to key players in a relatively small first team squad could eventually tell against the holders. Galbally are having an excellent season and still in contention for promotion to the top level. It’s a nothing to lose game for them so expect the Co. Limerick lads to give Saints a hard battle. Note this game is going ahead on Good Friday with a 7pm kick-off.

Another club having an outstanding season is Glengoole United and they have their eyes on promotion to the top tier. Their Division One league results have been most impressive, only overshadowed by an excellent Cahir Park side. Here Glengoole have an opportunity to match their wits against a premier outfit, Peake Villa. Peake have had an average season not helped by early exits from both national competitions. Will their bad cup form continue in the domestic Tipperary Cup? They have been waiting a few weeks for this tie and will have to rebuild enthusiasm. That should be no problem. They are a very proud club and despite adversity of recent times appear to be on the way back to former glory with a good youth policy. Glengoole will be formidable and don’t be surprised if they make the last four. This could be quite a tussle at the Tower Field in Thurles.

The last tie pairs fourth division league and shield champions, St.Kieran’s, against Wilderness Rovers. Here we have a team on the crest of a wave, albeit in a much lower division, against a side not having a good season. Did a fourth division side ever make the semi-finals before? St.Kierans will be oozing confidence and reaching the last four would be a tremendous bonus. For Wilderness it is a welcome distraction from the league and it is worth noting they have played their best football in the cup. It would be a great boost for them if they make it to the semi-finals. Could be quite a game but the premier sides class and experience should see them through.

Penalties may be needed

So the stage is set this week-end for four exciting games. Remember it’s a winner on the day as all ties go to extra time and penalties.