Championship favourites Clonmel Commercials hit JK Brackens with a seven goal blitz to maintain their unbeaten record in their group in the county senior football championship at Boherlahan last week, ensuring themselves automatic qualification for the closing stages of the championship.
This was Commercials third win but JK Brackens, who had a win and a loss going into this game, needed the points to come through the group as the second qualifier, but by the 23rd minute that was never going to happen as a Michael Quinlivan hat-trick of goals, and another from Richie Carroll, had Commericals 4-3 to 0-4 ahead, and realistically out of reach of their opponents.
The pace, intensity, work-rate and ball-handling skills of the commercials side was way ahead of their opponents’ but to their credit, Brackens never threw in the towel and by half-time had cut the deficit to five points, thanks to a strong finish to the half which yielded 1-3 without reply.
This was truly the Michael Quinlivan show and the county man was in majestic form. His first goal in the 4th minute was from a penalty after a foot block on Eoin Fitzgerald. Four minutes later came Richie Carroll’s goal, set-up by Quinlivan. In the 14th minute Quinlivan capitalised on Jack Kennedy’s good delivery for a third goal and in the 23rd minute he completed his hat-trick, applying the final touch-home to an excellent five man Commercials move.
With Commercials ahead 4-3 to 0-4, a rout looked possible but credit J K Brackens’ spirit. With the Scully brothers and Colin O’Riordan standing up to be counted, they clawed their way back into the game with a rousing finish to the half. An O’Riordan goal in the 30th minute, created by Shane Bourke, and points by the Scully brothers and O’Riordan, had them only five points adrift, 1-7 to 4-3 at the break, and with their hopes still alive.
Commercials’ class told in the second half. Two Quinlivan points on resuming restored the initiative to them and though Brackens responded with two Shane Scully points and another from O’Riordan, Commercials then went into overdrive, scoring 1-7 without reply in a blistering fourteen minute spell, Jason Lonergan getting a goal in the 41st minute, as they forged 5-11 to 1-10 clear.
Cathal Scully and Lorcan Egan had goal chances for Templemore, Egan’s effort being well-saved by Commercials goalie Paul Nolan, but with Clonmel mentors enjoying the luxury of using their bench to the full, Shane Flynn grabbed a sixth goal for them in the 57th minute, and Ian Barnes another two minutes later, setting the seal on a fine team performance.
The victory illustrated the wealth of talent at Commercials’ disposal and clearly they are reaping the benefit of repeated success at underage level. It is doubtful if any team in the county would stay with them in this mode, and the challenge for them is to maintain this level of performance as the business end of the championships approaches.
Michael Quinlivan was star of the show with a personal tally of 3-8, and basically Brackens had no answer to him. But he was not alone and such as Seamus Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, Jamie Peters, Paidi White (late on) and Kevin Harney were all in sparkling form. Commercials are the team to beat if you want to collect silverware this year.
JK Brackens’ defence had no answer to the quality attacking play of their opponents, despite a lion-hearted display from Colin O’Riordan at centre-halfback. They were not helped by the loss of Aidan Fogarty to a hamstring injury early in the first half, and the unavailability of county under 21 man Dean McEnroe, but overall, their opponents were in a different league. The Scully brothers, Lorcan Egan, the Bourkes, Shane and Paidi, and Sean Patrick Guerins were others to fly the flag bravely but to no avail.
Commercials - P Nolan; F Condon, K Fahey, S Taylor; D Madigan, K Harney, J Peters; S Kennedy, J Kennedy; J Lonergan 1-1; R Carroll 1-0 P Whyte 0-2; R Peters, M Quinlivan 3-8; E Fizgerald 0-1.
Subs- C McGeever for Madigan; N Kelly for J Kennedy; I Barnes 1-0 for R Peters; J Harney for Fitzgerald; S Flynn 1-0 for Carroll.
J K Brackens – J Farrelly; T Murphy, T Kennedy, J Bergin; A Fogarty, C O Riordan 1-2; E Fitzpatrick; S Scully 0-6; L Egan; S Bourke, A O’Riordan, C Scully 0-2; P Bourke, S P Guerins 0-1; S Owens 0-1.
Subs- C Sheedy for Fogarty, J Kennedy 0-1 for Guerins.
Referee - P Russell, Lattin-Cullen.