Kieran Bergin who scored two wonderful goals for Killenaule in their win over Aherlow Gales in the County SFC quarter-final at New Inn.
County Tipperary Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
KILLENAULE 3-14 :: 2-5 AHERLOW GAELS
Killenaule, by virtue of an emphatic 12 points victory over Aherlow Gaels at New Inn this afternoon, have booked themselves a place in the semi-finals of this year’s County Senior Football Championship.
A storming second half performance in which they scored 3-5 in the face of a strong wind and driving rain saw the South Tipp side emerge fully deserving winners. On today’s display, none of the more traditional football clubs still standing will now look forward to taking on ‘The Robins’ in the semi-finals.
After two recent hard-fought South semi-final games against Moyle Rovers, Killenaule looked the sharper team all through and with the exception of a couple of blips along the way, they for the most part looked the better footballing side.
It was Aherlow Gaels though who had the dream start with a goal after only 25 seconds, amazingly before a Killenaule player had touched the ball. The throw-in, won by Mark Russell, was moved via the Grogan brothers, Barry and Seamus, to Ciaran McDonald whose final pass was superbly finished low to the net by Bernard O’Brien to give the Glen side a tonic start against a very strong wind.
Thereafter though they would only manage a single point for the remainder of the first half as Killenaule readjusted to their disastrous opening. Killenaule were level by the 12th minute at 1-1 to 0-4, following points from John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer (45 and free), Declan Fanning and Tony Doyle (free), to a nice Aherlow point by Seamus Grogan after an excellent Kevin Franks pass.
But Killenaule were to completely dominate the second quarter in which they outscored their opponents by 0-5 to 0-0. Three excellent points from play in a three minute spell between the 21st and 24th minute saw them power into the lead for the first time. Declan Fanning with his second point of the day put them ahead, the point created by the overlap of Stephen Browne on the wing, found by a long kicked pass by ‘Bubbles.’ This was quickly followed up by a superb five-man move started by Stephen Browne and involving Paidi Feehan, Liam Maher and Michael Doyle before the influential Liam Bergin finished with a rallying team point. And when ‘Bubbles’, always alert to a loose man, found Michael Doyle with a huge pass, the corner forward pointed for a 0-7 to 1-1 lead for Killenaule.
A second 45 and a close-in free, both converted by ‘Bubbles’ (the free won by Liam Maher’s hard grafting run) sent the Kenneth Browne managed Killenaule in at the interval 0-9 to 1-1 in front. The five points lead perhaps just about reflected the strength of the strong wind which the South team had at their advantage in the opening 30 minutes.
On the resumption a Bernard O’Brien free for Aherlow opened the scoring before they were rocked back when Killenaule struck for a superb goal just four minutes in. A ball played into the corner by Cillian O’Dwyer was recycled in along the end line by Eoin O’Connell whose pass back to Kieran Bergin was rifled to the roof of the Aherlow net for a 1-9 to 1-2 lead for Killenaule.
But Aherlow responded well. Firstly came a superb Ciarán McDonald point – McDonald who was making a rare appearance this season due to injury operated in the full-forward line all day. This was followed by a bundled-home goal in the 35th minute by Seamus Grogan and suddenly just three points separated the sides at 1-9 to 2-3. Aherlow, with 25 minutes of wind-assisted play remaining, were back in this game big time it seemed.
But it wasn’t to be for them as Killenaule totally took control from there to the final whistle putting in perhaps their best performance of the year to date; a display that will be carefully noted by the other three semi-finalists with eyes on the 2017 O’Dwyer Cup.
Into the elements they played a fast and short moving game resulting in two further excellent goals scored before the final whistle.
Midway through the half a ‘Bubbles’ 45 was sent short to Dean O’Connor who put Liam Maher through to finish superbly, a goal deserving of a hard-working display all through by the wing-back. And two minutes from time, with the issue well decided, Killenaule put the icing on the cake when Liam Bergin scored his second goal, this time blasting home off the ground with some style to give Gordon Peters no chance.
Beside the goals there were a further five points scored by Michael Doyle (after a ‘Bubbles’, Bergin, Fanning move and not a hurley in sight); 'Bubbles' (2 frees), Dean O’Connor (after a great deflection from Gordon Peters in the Aherlow goal), Fanning (his third of the day after a well placed pass by Dean O’Connor). And while this Killenaule score fest was happening all Aherlow could muster in a disappointing end to their campaign were points from Barry Grogan (51st minute) and captain Tom Hanley two minutes from time.
Aherlow’s already fast-fading chances had suffered a big blow in the 52nd minute when corner-back Ed O’Meara was dismissed for a second yellow after hauling down ‘Bubbles’. They had already lost their other corner-back Sean Mullins early in the second half for an off-the-ball incident resulting in a black card (which seemed very harsh on Mullins in the circumstances of what had happened).
Except for the dream start of a goal inside 25 seconds, Aherlow Gaels always looked to be playing second fiddle throughout. Short a few first choice starters beforehand and then losing up-and-coming star Shane Neville through injury early on, and with one or two others not at full fitness seemingly, they simply had no answer for Killenaule once they kicked into top gear. However, the likes of John Moloney, Laurence Coskeran, Tom Hanley, Sean Mullins, Barry Grogan and Bernard O’Brien never stopped trying.
Killenaule will take great heart from this performance especially with the brand of football they produced in the second half. In the South semi-final replay against Moyle Rovers they could only muster one point from play all day; scoring clearly wasn’t an issue today though with 3-7 coming from open play.
The teamwork overall was impressive too with fluency of movement and at pace causing untold bother for Aherlow Gaels. The half-back line of Cillian O’Dwyer, Paddy Codd and Liam Maher were outstanding. Midfielders Paidi Feehan and Kieran Bergin were dominant (Bergin’s goals were top notch); while in the forwards ‘Bubbles’, Michael Doyle, Tony Doyle and Declan Fanning in particular were dangerous all day long.
Killenaule will consider themselves worthy of a good rattle at anyone after today and may well have a say in the destination of the title in the next month or so. Don’t rule it out!
KILLENAULE: Thomas Fitzgerald, Stephen Browne, Jimmy Feehan, Michael Fitzgerald, Cillian O’Dwyer, Joe O’Dwyer, Liam Maher (1-0), Paddy Codd, Kieran Bergin (2-1), John ‘Bubbles’ O’Dwyer (0-5, 0-3F, 0-2x45, Tony Doyle (Capt, 0-2F), Paidi Feehan, Michael Doyle (0-2), Declan Fanning (0-3), Eoin O’Connell.
Subs: Gearoid O’Rourke for Joe O’Dwyer (inj, 30 mins); Dean O’Connor (0-1) for Fitzgerald (HT); Eoin Barry for O’Connell (black card, 40); Eddie O’Brien for T. Doyle (56); Tom Stakelum for Fanning (58); Daniel Guinan for Maher ((59).
AHERLOW GAELS: Gordon Peters, Ed O’Meara, John Moloney, Sean Mullins, Laurence Coskeran, Tom Hanley (Capt, 0-1), Tom O’Donoghue, Mark Russell, Barry Grogan (0-1), Kevin Franks, Seamus Grogan (1-1), Eoin O’Connell, Shane Neville, Ciaran McDonald (0-1), Bernard O’Brien (1-1, 0-1F).
Subs: Mark O’Brien for Neville (inj, 24 mins); Michael Hanley for Mullins (black card, 40); Brendan Hanley for Franks (49); John Hennessy for O’Connell (53); Shane Russell for Russell (56).
Referee: Derek O'Mahoney (Ardfinnan).