Rockwell Rovers rounded off their year in style on Sunday last by capturing the County Junior ‘B’ Football title with victory over Clonmel Og at Cahir.
In the end they were fully deserving seven points winners but this keenly contested game was still in the melting pot at the three quarters stage at 0-5 apiece.
Indeed with only 10 minutes to go the New Inn boys, with just a one point advantage, were reduced to 14 men, but as often happens the numerical disadvantage worked in their favour of the sinner. With the extra space in the forward line the Rockwell attack began to link up better and they rattledoff a goal and three points in the dying minutes to secure victory.
The West champions started the better and inside 40 seconds Tommy Flynn kicked a lovely left footed point. New Inn’s midfield pairing of Kevin Moloney and David Brennanwere winning most of the important early exchanges and Moloney pointed from 40 metres after five minutes to extend the advantage.
Clonmel Og were slow to start but eventually began to work out a few movements and one of these culminated in a fine Eric Smith point after nine minutes.
All day long Rockwell seemed to link up easier from defence to attack and David Lonergan, Michael Barron and Stephen Boland combined before Boland raised a white flag to make it 0-3 to 0-1 after 13 minutes of play.
Paudie Landers then pointed for Clonmel Og to finish off a passage of play started in the backline by a hard-won Geno Lonergan ball and carried on via Peter Kelleher and Terry Kearns.
A Stephen Boland free doubled Rovers lead to 0-4 to 0-2 but the last 10 minutes of the first half was to be Clonmel Og’s best period of the game.
Wing-back Kevin McGrath set up Peter Kelleher to score an excellent point coming in from the left side.
Conor Arrigan’s pace was causing problems for the Rovers rearguard and three frees were conceded but Clonmel Og were only on target with one from Jonathan Donoghue in the 28th minute.
Half-time came a little too soon for the South champions and at the break it was 0-4 each.
Like at the start of the opening half Rockwell resumed more positively but were guilty of three woeful wides in the first five minutes.
Clonmel Og took advantage with their best point of the game to go ahead for the first and only time in the 39th minute. Kevin McGrath, Eoghan Aylward, Peter Kelleher moved the ball up the field and Conor Arrigan pointed to finish off the flowing movement.
It was as good as it got though for “The Og” and as the New Inn half-back line of Colm Heaney, Kevin Halley and Diarmuid Lonergan asserted themselves more the pressure began to pay dividends.
Stephen Boland restored parity in the 44th minute with a free after David Brennan was taken out. A minute later Michael Fahey put Rockwell back in front with a nice point but five minutes later the same player was sent marching to the line following a straight red card.
The dismissal turned out to be significant but not in the expected way. Rockwell dug deeper and somehow came up with the anwers as their superior fitness and recent games started to pay dividends.
Late points from Kevin Heaney, James Heffernan (a superb angled effort), Kevin Halley and Stephen Boland to just a single free from Jonathan Donoghue had Rockwell Rovers on the verge at 0-10 to 0-6 after 58 minutes.
In the 60th minute Kevin Halley worked his way out of defence to offload to David Brennan and his cutting run through the middle was finished gloriously with a piledriver to the back of Richie Tobin’s net. It was just reward for Brennan’s workrate over the hour and a fitting finale to Rovers’ county campaign.
At the death Clonmel Og’s Darren Boland was dismissed with a second yellow card.
The winners produced a team effort on the day with all contributing to the success. The midfield diamond of Kevin Halley, Kevin Moloney, David Brennan and Stephen Boland stood out most prominently but there were notable displays also from William Flynn, Colm Heaney and Diarmuid Lonergan.
For Clonmel Og: Aidan Fox, Stephen Kearns, Kevin McGrath, Geno Lonergan, Eric Smith, Terry Kearns and Conor Arrigan all had their moments.
Rockwell Rovers: James Dudley, Robert O’Halloran, William Flynn, Brian Riordan, Colm Heaney, Kevin Halley (0-1), Diarmuid Lonergan, Kevin Moloney (0-1), David Brennan (1-0), Michael Barron, Stephen Boland (0-4, 0-2F), Stephen Byrne, Kevin Heaney (0-1), Michael Fahey (0-1), Tommy Flynn (0-1).
Subs: James Heffernan (0-1) for Barron; Alan Moloney for Byrne; Martin Boland for T. Flynn; Diarmuid O’Brien (Captain) for Kevin Heaney.
Clonmel Og: Richie Tobin, Darren Boland, Aidan Fox, Stephen Kearns, Kevin McGrath, David Peters, Geno Lonergan, Eric Smith (0-1), Gerry Cunningham, Jonathan Donoghue (0-2), Terry Kearns, Paul Cagney, Paudie Landers (0-1), Peter Kelleher (0-1), Conor Arrigan (0-1).
Subs: Eoghan Aylward for Paul Cagney; Paddy O’Meara for Gerry Cunningham.
Referee: Martin Doyle (Ardfinnan).