Ballyporeen’s run in this year’s Munster Club Intermediate Football Championship came to an abrupt end at Clonmel on Sunday last.
Facing a well-fancied Clyda Rovers from Cork, the Tipp champions were always going to be up against it, and the bookmaker’s pre-match odds of 1/3 for the Mallow boys were well justifed in the end.
The Cork champions’ type of game was well flagged. They play a high-tempo handpassing game out of defence with possession a priority. At times on Sunday they strung 20 plus handpasses together without the ball touching leather once.
Also with a water-tight defence - they hadn’t conceded a single goal in six matches prior to Sunday - Ballyporeen couldn’t afford to fall off the pace.
But as it transpired the best made plans of Ballyporeen were no match for Clyda and from the outset the Cork side took almost complete control. They looked livelier, hungrier and sharper, also their overlapping play and constant re-cycling had Bally in trouble from very early on.
Over the hour Clyda Rovers had 10 players who contributed to the scoreline, while Bally’s meagre return of 1-4 was all from Conor Sweeney, bar a first half point from Shane Molan.
There was a definite gulf in class but in fairness to Ballyporeen they battled to the final whistle in a game they never once looked like winning.
After the initial squaring up to each other had passed James Murphy opened the scoring for the visitors in the 8th minute with a free, quickly followed by a fine point from Seamus Roynane.
In a six minute spell midway through the first period both corner-forwards for Clyda Rovers, James Murphy and Cian O’Sullivan, added a brace of points apiece as they advanced in wave after wave.
The stand-out player was Dan O’Callaghan in the centre-field. His fielding under the high ball was seriously impressive and what he wasn’t winning cleanly he was breaking down to his team mates. His was the starting point of most of Clyda’s passing moves.
In the 21st minute Fionn O’Shea made a great run through the middle and Ballyporeen keeper Jack English did well to parry his pile-driver over the bar to leave it 0-7 to 0-0.
Eventually Bally’ got off the mark when Shane Molan pointed following a fine move involving Darragh Lyons, Tommy Sweeney and John O’Callaghan.
Conor O’Sullivan, for Clyda Rovers, had the last point of the first half to send his side to the break a comfortable seven points ahead.
The second half was more even and more entertaining as the Tipperary side tried to get back into the game.
After Conor Sweeney opened the scoring for Ballyporeen with a free the Cork side replied with two points from Conor O’Sullivan and an excellent solo effort from the influential Dan O’Callaghan.
In the 8th minute of the second half, Conor Sweeney, now playing on the edge of the square, was fouled and the referee pointed to the spot. Sweeney converted to leave the score at 0-10 to 1-2. A five points deficit was as near as Bally’ would get, try as they would.
Clyda settled the ship and points from half-back Chris Buckley and a free from James Murphy weatherd the storm. At the three-quarters stage they were still seven to the good.
Ballyporeen kept plugging away and Conor Sweeney with two points, one a free, kept hopes alive but they badly needed another goal.
Following a free from Conor Flanagan for Clyda, Bally mounted another attack and a long ball in from John Martin was fisted to the net by Eoin Kearney. However the joy was shortlived as the officials crossed the flags. With it went Ballyporeen’s last hope.
Late on Cork inter-county great Paudie Kissane and substitute Colin Ronayne had the final two points of the game.
In the 60th minute Tipp inter-county forward Conor Sweeney received a second yellow following an off-the-ball incident.
Clyda seemed to have all the aces on the day with Dan O’Callaghan so important in the middle, others to shine were Fionn O’Shea, Paudie Kissane, James Murphy and Cian O’Sullivan.
For Ballyporeen a great year comes to an end and they can take heart from South and county titles and a return to the senior grade next year. On Sunday they had good performances from the likes of Jack English in goal, William English, Bobby Breedy, Riain O’Callaghan, Shane Molan, John O’Callaghan, John Martin, Eoin Kearney, Darragh Lyons and Conor Sweeney.
Ballyporeen: Jack English, Seamus O’Callaghan, Bobby Breedy, Riain O’Callaghan, Shane Molan (0-1), William English, Eoin Morrissey, John O’Callaghan, Conor Sweeney (Capt) (1-3, 1-0 pen, 0-2F), John Martin, Eoin Kearney, Darragh Lyons, Paidi Fitzgerald, Tommy Sweeney, Danny Barrett.
Subs: Anthony Crotty for S. Molan; Shane Lynch for S. O’Callaghan; Neil Barrett for D. Barrett; Francis Martin for E. Kearney
Clyda Rovers: Cian Conway, Niall O’Mullane, Ray Carey, Chris Kenny, Chris Buckley (0-1), Fionn O’Shea (0-1), Seamus Roynane (0-1), Daniel O’Callaghan (0-1), Conor Flanagan (0-1F), Conor O’Sullivan (0-2), Paudie Kissane (0-1), Gavin Carey, James Murphy (0-4, 0-2F), John O’Hanlon, Cian O’ Sullivan (0-2).
Subs: Padhraic O’Mullane for J. O’Hanlon; Sean O’Connell for G. Carey; Roy Willis for S. Roynane; Declan Roche for C. Flanagan; Colin Roynane (0-1) for J. Murphy.
Referee: Sean Joy (Kerry).