Jack Kennedy was hugely influential in pulling Clonmel Commercials through against Arravale Rovers
County Tipperary Senior Football Championship Quarter-Final
CLONMEL COMMERCIALS 0-10 :: 0-9 ARRAVALE ROVERS
Bookmakers favourites to win the Tipperary Senior Football Championship, Clonmel Commercials’ hopes of the county crown in 2017 remain alive but only after surviving a huge scare from Arravale Rovers at Dr. Morris Park in Thurles on Wednesday evening last.
Under floodlights and on a very soft pitch, Charlie McGeever’s side dug deepest to eventually wear down the bravest of challenges from the West Tipperary men, and were mightily relieved at the final whistle. The victory sets up a hugely exciting county semi-final on Sunday next when Commercials will be pitted against champions Loughmore/Castleiney at 2 pm in Cashel. On this performance, the Clonmel side will need to improve if they are to dethrone the Mid Tipperary side.
In an exciting and enjoyable game throughout considering the conditions after a day of torrential rain both sides served up some good football. There was little or nothing separating the sides all through, and four times in the opening half parity prevailed, before the sides went in at the break at 0-5 each.
Midway through the second period it was 0-7 apiece and anyone’s game, but perhaps in the final quarter the experience and strength in depth of the Munster champions of 2015 came to the fore to hold off the heroics of Graham Lonergan’s side. Commercials were clinging on for dear life at the end but were still just about deserving winners; Arravale in defeat though, had won a lot of admirers in a game that was played in the proper competitive spirt of sport. Credit to both teams.
After a Bryan Lowry free opened the scoring in the second minute, Commercials took the upper hand over the next 10, rattling off three fine points with two from Michael Quinlivan and another from Shane Flynn after a strong run by Kevin Fahey through the middle.
But Commercials were not going to have it their own way and after Mikey O'Dwyer was taken down James Hogan kicked the first of his four points with a 40 metre free. Then in a move started by the outstanding Paddy Dalton, Bryan Lowry levelled matters for the second time in the 16th minute.
Jack Kennedy then latched on to a fisted clearance to edge Commercials ahead before James 'Chilly' Hogan responded with a super effort from 40 metres to make it 0-4 apiece after 21 minutes of play.
Arravale got their noses in front for the second time two minutes before the break when Bryan Lowry won a free which he converted himself. The West Tipp side suffered a big blow on the stroke of half-time when full-back Ciarán Lowry was black carded after hauling down All-Star Michael Quinlivan; Jack Kennedy pointed the resultant free to send the sides to the dressingrooms all square.
The tireless Jason Lonergan was the workhorse for the first score of the second half when setting up Jack Kennedy to fire over from 35 metres out but it was matched soon afterwards by a brilliant point from Paddy Dalton who sold his marker a sweet dummy before sending the ball high over the bar with the outside of the boot.
Rovers hit the front for their third time soon afterwards when James Hogan slotted over another free, this time Conor McManus forcing the Commercials defence to foul. But the sides were soon level for the sixth time in a toe-for-toe combat when Jack Kennedy once more converted a free.
A point by half-time substitute Alan Lonergan put Commercials into a lead they would never relinquish; and it was 0-9 to 0-7 when Jason Lonergan tapped over a free won by MQ's run at heart of the Rovers rearguard.
Six minutes from time another James Hogan free (his third of the game) had it back to the minimum; but Eoin Fitzgerald combined with the strong running Kevin Fahey a minute later, for the wing-back to add to his proud strike rate as an attacking defender in most games.
With time hitting the 60th minute Niall Donovan hit over a monster free off the floor from outside 50 metres leaving just the minimum between the sides.
But Commercials were to boss the remaining four minutes of added time in terms of possession to book their place in their last four.
Jack Kennedy at midfield put in a huge performance for the winners, Jason Lonergan, Kevin Fahey, Michael Quinlivan, Danny Madigan, Eoin Fitzgerald and Kevin Harney all played their parts too in this hard-fought team victory. Considering that the had the majority of possession over the hour, and kicked 12 wides to six for Arravale Rovers, Commercials themselves, may well consider that they made heavy weather of this victory.
For Arravale it was a hugely disappointing way to exit the championship but they can take heart from the manner in which they put it up to the favourites. It was a determined and gritty performance from Arravale with numerous excellent displays.
Also in the dying minutes when one of their stars Paddy Dalton pulled up injured Arravale had to wait a good three minutes or so to get a replacement sub on to the field, even allowing for a stoppage in play. When the game was in the melting pot that delay disadvantaged the Tipp Town side.
In defence, Pearse Richardson, Niall Fitzgerald and Darren Lowry more than held their own. Paddy Dalton was everywhere it seemed with his high-energy non-stop performance. Niall Donovan and Kenny Hayes matched the highly rated Commercials midfielders in this department. Captain Shane Leahy, James Hogan, Bryan Lowry and Mikey O'Dwyer were the pick of the attack. They can hold their heads high even in this defeat.
Clonmel Commercials: Michael O’Reilly, Jamie Peters, Liam Ryan, Luke Moore, Kevin Fahey (0-1), Danny Madigan, Kevin Harney, Seamus Kennedy, Jack Kennedy (0-4, 0-2F), Richie Carroll, Jason Lonergan (0-1F), Pauric Looram, Ryan Lambe, Michael Quinlivan (0-2), Shane Flynn (0-1).
Subs: Alan Lonergan (0-1) for Lambe (HT); Ross Peters for Moore (HT); Eoin Fitzgerald for Flynn (42); Richie Gunne for Carroll (50).
Arravale Rovers: Timmy Dalton, Pearse Richardson, Ciarán Lowry, Niall Fitzgerald, Paddy Dalton (0-1), Darren Lowry, Ted Lowry, Niall Donovan (0-1F), Kenny Hayes, James Hogan (0-4, 0-3F), Shane Leahy (Capt), Matthew Moroney, Bryan Lowry (0-3, 0-2F), Conor McManus, Mikey O’Dwyer.
Subs: Cian Ryan for C. Lowry (black card, 30); Tony Byrnes for T. Lowry (40); Stevie Quinn for McManus (42); Donagh Leahy for P. Dalton (inj, 56).
Referee: John Butler (Upperchurch/Drombane).
More to follow