Liam Boland seen here in this year's Munster Championship semi-final with Cork saved Moyle Rovers against Killenaule with nine points.
South Tipperary Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
KILLENAULE 1-18 :: 1-18 MOYLE ROVERS
Killenaule and Moyle Rovers must replay their South Tipperary Senior Football Championship semi-final after extra-time failed to separate the sides under floodlights at Ballyporeen on Tuesday night last.
It proved to be a highly competitive and exciting contest from start to finish as would be expected with a place in the divisional final at stake. Over the 80 minutes of play the sides were level on no less than 13 occasions – it would have been unlucky for either team to exit the championship in such a scenario.
As always in an such tight encounters the referee’s calls came in for closer scrutiny from both sides, but at the end of the day a replay was the fairest result and both sides can only blame themselves for not securing victory as each had their chances.
Four times in the opening half the sides were level before Rovers went in with a two points advantage at 1-8 to 1-6. Another four times in the second period the sides were all square before Killenaule equalised very late to finish normal time at 1-13 each. And five times in extra-time parity prevailed as two tired teams clung on dearly to hopes of a place in the final (against Clonmel Commercials).
At the end of the first quarter the sides were 0-3 apiece, Killenaule’s three points coming from Tony Doyle (2 frees) with Liam Boland (2, 1F) and Sean Carey (F) on target for Rovers. Overall the free-taking on the night for both teams was excellent with Boland (in particular) and Carey for Rovers, and Doyle and John O’Dwyer for Killenaule.
A brace of quick points from play by Carey and Shane Foley saw Rovers move two clear but with John 'Bubbles' O’Dwyer beginning to torment the Rovers defence, and win a pair of frees, it was back to 0-5 each after 20 minutes of play.
Liam Boland then turned creator of a goal chance when cutting in from the right hand side at pace to find Sean Carey who blasted low to the net. A minute later Carey popped over a free won by Riain Clancy and suddenly Moyle Rovers were four clear and in the ascendancy.
John 'Bubbles' O’Dwyer halted that flow with an excellent point in reply, when eventhough a blanket defence forced him to shoot from distance, he pointed with pinpoint accuracy.
Luke Boland then finished a fine move involving Diarmuid Foley and Dominic Walsh, and when his cousin Liam pointed another free for a five points lead coming up to half-time it was beginning to look promising for the Monroe club.
But right on the stroke of half-time Killenaule struck for perhaps the game’s most crucial score. From a kick out they worked their way down the field through a fast moving passing sequence eventually crowned by Kieran Bergin’s powerful goal to leave the interval score at just 1-8 to 1-6. It gave ‘The Robins’ the crucial impetus and belief they needed going to the dressingrooms as they attempted to keep alive their divisional double dream.
After Richie Power opened the second half with a deserved point after a determined run Rovers were still looking good at three up but the next three points all went the way of Killenaule.
Firstly ‘Bubbles’ kicked a beautiful free from way out right, followed by another free from hands by county footballer Kieran Bergin, and when Eoin Barry, just on the field as a sub, scored with almost his first touch the sides were tied up once again at 1-9 apiece seven minutes into the second half.
A match-changing moment followed. Luke and Liam Boland combined to carve open the Killenaule defence and put Rovers wing-back David McGrath through on goal but in a one-on-one former Tipperary goalkeeper Matt O’Donnell made a superb save at the expense of a 45 to keep his side’s ambitions alive.
Sweetly with his left boot Liam Boland stroked over the resultant 45 and two minutes later the same player gave Rovers some breathing space in a contest that was upping in intensity minute by minute.
A pair of Tony Doyle frees (one softly conceded by a Rovers pick up off the ground) levelled it up again at 1-11 each. Rovers had never been led all evening and twice more in the dying minutes they would take the lead. After Danny Owens was impeded when driving through the middle Liam Boland once more kicked a 45 metre free but it was another super sub for Killenaule, the evergreen Declan Fanning, who kicked a superb point under immense pressure to equalise.
Again Danny Owens in an effort to break through was pulled down with Killenaule free-taker Tony Doyle being black-carded as a result. The resultant free kick saw Liam Boland slot over his fifth placed ball of the evening and once more Rovers had a one point advantage to defend with seven minutes now remaining.
And they nearly managed it. Nearly. A minute into time added-on Killenaule were awarded a 35 metre free and they got two attempts at it. Some off-the-ball stuff as 'Bubbles' made the first ‘missed’ attempt allowed for the free to be re-taken. This time up stood goalkeeper Matthew O’Donnell with the second chance and his effort sailed majestically high between the sticks. Level again for the eighth time.
Killenaule who hadn’t led once from start to finish of normal time were to get an almighty chance at the death to win it. Eoin O’Connell put Cillian O’Dwyer through and after creating the opening and just 15 metres out from goal O’Dwyer failed to get his shot away properly and Moyle Rovers breathed a huge sigh of relief at the let off of the final whistle.
Toe-to-toe like two tired pugilists the sides went at it again in extra-time. Liam Bergin gave ‘The Robins’ their first lead of the entire night 30 seconds in but a free from Sean Carey and a great point from Liam Boland switched the lead back in favour of the ‘Sky Blues’. Michael Doyle, with a free, sent the sides in level at the break in extra-time at 1-15 each.
If Killenaule hadn’t led at all during normal time, three times they would lead in the second half of extra-time as they looked the stronger finishing side and the more likely to snatch it.
Kieran Bergin and Aidan McGrath swopped points, followed by Eoin O’Connell’s excellent left footed effort which was cancelled out by a huge long range effort from Martin Dunne to keep it interesting and level with just five minutes to go.
It would take something special to win this marathon and it looked as if Paudie Feehan’s left legged shot from 35 metres two minutes from time was the crucial match winner.
There was one more sting in the tail though. As the Killenaule supporters screamed for a final whistle Moyle Rovers worked the ball out of their defence and with the clock at 81 minutes the experienced Sean Carey wiggled just enough room for himself to send the game to a replay, and a fitting finale.
Right at the final whistle Paudie Feehan was dismissed for a second yellow card.
Over the 80 minutes both sides left everything they had on the field.
For Rovers the likes of Alan Campbell, Richie Power, Paddy Morrissey and captain Ross Mulcahy defended well. Martin Dunne worked hard in the middle while it was Liam Boland and Sean Carey in the main they can thank that they are still involved in the title race today.
Killenaule will be bitterly disappointed they didn’t sneak it, and they should have. Matthew O’Donnell pulled off a magnificent save and scored the vital equaliser in normal time. Jimmy Feehan, Stephen Browne and Paddy Codd were strong in defence. Paudie Feehan and Kieran Bergin won the middle battle while upfront ‘The Robins’ looked to have the more scoring options with John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer ever dangerous and Tony Doyle and Eoin O’Connell also threatening.
KILLENAULE: M. O’Donnell (0-1F), S. Browne, J. Feehan, M. Fitzgerald, L. Meagher, P. Codd, C. O’Dwyer, P. Feehan (0-1), K. Bergin (1-2, 0-1F), E. O’Brien, T. Doyle (Capt., 0-6, 0-5F), D. O’Connor, M. Doyle (0-1F), J. O’Dwyer (0-4, 0-2F), E. O’Connell (0-1).
Subs: E. Barry for Fitzgerald (38 mins); D. Fanning for O’Brien (48); G. O’Rourke for T. Doyle (black card, 52).
MOYLE ROVERS: C. Kenrick, P. Morrissey, A. Campbell, R. Power, D. McGrath, Luke. Boland (0-1), R. Mulcahy, D. Owens, M. Dunne, D. Walsh, D. Foley, R. Clancy, Liam Boland (0-9, 0-4F, 0-1x45), S. Foley (0-1), S. Carey (1-5, 0-3F).
Subs: C. Luttrell and A. McGrath for Walsh and Clancy (40 mins); D. Dwyer for Luke Boland (ET 63 mins); D. Lyne for D. McGrath (ET 66); C. Condon for Owens (ET 70).
Referee: Martin Doyle (Ardfinnan).