Clonmel Commercials star forward Michael Quinlivan.
After a magnificent year for the county’s senior football team in which they reached the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 1935, the county’s club championship is fast nearing a conclusion with the final scheduled for Sunday week, 30th October in Cashel.
The big question as to who will line up in Leahy Park on Sunday week will be decided this coming Sunday with both county semi-finals taking place.
The first semi-final kicks off in Cahir at 2.30 pm with last year’s runners-up Moyle Rovers coming up against last year’s South champions Kilsheelan/Kilcash.
A somewhat depleted Moyle Rovers came through their quarter-final against Aherlow Gaels on Wednesday night last under lights at Ballyporeen on a 2-11 to 0-13, while on Saturday last Kilsheelan/Kilcash booked their place in the last four for the first time in 33 years with a 1-13 to 0-13 win over Ballyporeen.
(ALAN CAMPBELL, MOYLE ROVERS)
Already without club and county captain Peter Acheson who has now moved to Dubai, the Powerstown/Lisronagh side have been further weakened by the absence through injury recently of Morgan Irwin, goalkeeper Ciaran Kenrick and Darragh Dwyer while county senior player Martin Dunne is away on holidays at present. With their backs to the wall on Wednesday night last and four points down at the interval, a young Rovers side showed plenty of bottle to battle back to gain what looked an unlikely last four place. Once again they will be looking to county full-back Alan Campbell (pictured), Danny Owens, Stephen Quirke, Liam Boland and Diarmuid Foley to provide the springboard to get the side back to a second county final in a row.
Kilsheelan/Kilcash have been making great strides in the senior grade over recent years capturing silverware in the South last year when they defeated Clonmel Commercials in the South final. Outside of their eventual All-Ireland semi-final loss to Ballyboden/St. Enda’s, this was the only competitive game that Commercials lost all year. That Kilsheelan could take such a scalp on such a big day is indicative of their capabilities on their day.
(BILL MAHER, KILSHEELAN/KILCASH)
Kilsheelan/Kilcash came through their group undefeated with wins over Cahir and Upperchurch/Drombane and a draw with Arravale Rovers. In a tough quarter-final in Cahir on Saturday last they eventually saw off Ballyporeen by three points. However, like Moyle Rovers Kilsheelan are struggling with personnel at the moment and injury doubts surround the availability of both Maher brothers, Bill (pictured) and Paul, alongside their cousin Brendan Martin, for Sunday’s big clash. The absence of any of the trio will be a huge blow to their chances. Conor Davin Murphy limped off against Ballyporeen also but is expected to figure at the weekend. Still there is plenty of class available in this Kilsheelan outfit from goalkeeper Evan Comerford, Mark Kehoe, Adrian McGuire and Adrian Walsh.
The second semi-final at Boherlahan at 3 pm is between reigning South, County and Munster champions Clonmel Commercials and the champions of two years ago, Loughmore/Castleiney.
Many pundits expect the winners of the O’Dwyer Cup to come from this side of the draw and whoever that might be, one thing for sure is that the victory will be hard-earned. Arch-rivals going back decades, there is usually little if anything between these sides at any grade and more of the same is expected on Sunday next.
Champions Commercials remain unbeaten all year having come through their group comfortably, the South division with a facile final win over Cahir, and a county quarter-final on a 1-19 to 0-11 scoreline against Arravale Rovers. Deservedly they are not alone the fancy of most to retain their Tipperary title but many will expect them to give the provincial title “a crack” again this winter.
(KEVIN FAHEY, CLONMEL COMMERCIALS)
Managed by Charlie McGeever, Commercials are blessed with an abundance of talent at present including All-Star nominee Michael Quinlivan, and inter-county players such as Kevin and Ian Fahey, Jason Lonergan and Jack Kennedy. But right through from goalkeeper Paul Nolan who recently replaced Jake McDonald as custodian to corner-forward Eoin Fitzgerald who goaled against Arravale Rovers the last day, Commercials look to have too much strength all round. A doubt remains about Seamus Kennedy who came off injured in the quarter-final.
Loughmore/Castleiney are perennial challengers in both senior grades in Tipperary but this year after the early exit of their hurlers, the football has taken a lot more focus with the Mid Tipperary club. Double winners two years ago, including a football final replay win over Cahir on St. Stephen’s Day, the McGraths & Co., will be all-out to get back to a county football decider.
Loughmore came through their group unbeaten with wins against Galtee Rovers and Eire Og Annacarty and then gave the Bansha side a bit of a hiding in the quarter-final in Cashel last Saturday by 3-15 to 0-11.
(LIAM AND JOHN McGRATH, LOUGHMORE/CASTLEINEY)
Like their opponents on Sunday next, Loughmore have a well-packed team of players who have donned the county jersey, if not at senior grade, at minor and under 21 grades for sure. Liam and John McGrath have declined the opportunity to represent Ireland at shinty in Scotland this weekend in order to play with their club; the commitment of Loughmore players to the green and red jersey is never questioned. They also have the likes of John Meagher, Brian McGrath, David Kennedy, Liam McGrath and Evan Sweeney in their ranks. If anyone is capable of putting it up to the champions in a knock-out championship game, Loughmore/Castleiney can.
All-in-all it promises to be a cracking Sunday’s football in Tipperary with Commercials and Moyle Rovers just about getting the nod to make it a repeat county final.