Jason Lonergan scored Commercials all-important goal in the 48th minute to seal their place in the County Senior Football Championship final.
County Tipperary Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
CLONMEL COMMERCIALS 1-9 :: 1-6 LOUGHMORE/CASTLEINEY
Clonmel Commercials took one giant step towards regaining the County Senior Football title when dethroning Loughmore/Castleiney at Leahy Park, Cashel this afternoon.
After being rocked by a fourth minute goal by Loughmore’s Noel McGrath – against a strong wind – Commercials gave themselves an even steeper mountain to climb than they would have wished for, but they weren't found wanting in the end. By half-time they were back to level pegging at 0-5 to 1-2 and wouldn’t take the lead for the first time until a Michael Quinlivan point at the three-quarter hour mark.
They soon found themselves behind again at 0-7 to 1-5 as the reigning champions determinedly fought back, but Clonmel Commercials produced the game-changing moment in the 48th minute. A kick-out was brilliantly fielded in midfield by substitute Ian Fahey who was in turn fouled; Fahey, with great presence of mind, beckoned Michael Quinlivan to make a run out and quickly delivered the All-Star with a superb pass; Quinlivan then offloaded to Jason Lonergan and the lightning Lonergan buried the ball low and hard past Dominic Brennan to put the Munster champions of 2015 into the county final. Thereafter there was to be no denying Charlie McGeever’s side their win.
It sets up an unique pairing for the final in two weeks time where Clonmel Commercials will oppose Killenaule who recorded an extra-time win against Moyle Rovers in Cahir. It is a result that should surprise few as in their two recent South semi-final games these same sides drew after extra-time the first day in Ballyporeen under lights, before Moyle Rovers won the replay by a single point at Fethard. Today, it also went to extra-time before ‘The Robins’ made their piece of history.
Commercials Jack Kennedy being chased down by John McGrath of Loughmore in Sunday's County SFC semi-final at Cashel.
Having overcome the early shock of the Loughmore goal, superbly finished by Noel McGrath after a move combining Ciaran McGrath, David Kennedy and Tomás McGrath, Commercials still had a massive task on their hands at the interval. While level at 0-5 to 1-2, they had to face into the strong second half wind and most pundits would have favoured Loughmore to eventually gain the upper hand with that advantage. But, in a greatly improved performance from their midweek win over Arravale Rovers, Commercials were awesome in their battle and took their game to the champions. No doubt at the final whistle the more deserving side had prevailed.
It was perhaps at half-time that Commercials played their trump card with the introduction of Ian Fahey to midfield. The county player put in a magnificent half hour and was the catalyst in a lot of their good work. But there were some massive displays throughout with Liam Ryan outstanding at full-back, Kevin Fahey, Ross Peters and Jamie Peters putting in huge defensive games; Seamus Kennedy thriving in the second half in particular, forever trying to break through the stubborn defence, while Jason Lonergan and All-Star Michael Quinlivan did most of the damage of the scoreboard.
In a low-scoring first half defences were on top with little scored from open play (two points in fact). Apart from their goal, Liam McGrath kicked two frees to complete his side's first half tally; for Commercials Jack Kennedy kicked two important frees, while Jason Lonergan with two points (one a close in free, the other a fisted effort after a good run) and Pauric Looram in time added-on sent the sides to the dressingrooms all square.
NO WAY THROUGH! Loughmore's Evan Sweeney finds his progress halted by the combination of Danny Madigan and Kevin Fahey in Sunday's County SFC semi-final played at Leahy Park, Cashel. Watching on is Liam Ryan who put in a magnificent display at full-back for the winners.
At the break Commercials introduced Ian Fahey and Richie Gunne and their contributions, especially Fahey's, were very significant.
Four minutes after the re-start Loughmore re-took the lead with a fine point by Ciarán McGrath following a break down the middle by John Ryan. And after Jack Kennedy had levelled with his third free when Michael Quinlivan was fouled, it was the All-Star himself who kicked his side into the lead for the first time in the 45th minute following a pass from Richie Gunne.
But, as is guaranteed from Loughmore, the fight continued and a superb point from Evan Sweeney a minute later was soon followed by a Liam McGrath free (won by Sweeney) - the champions weren't leaving the O'Dwyer Cup behind without a fight.
But it was Jason Lonergan's goal soon afterwards that clinched the deal, finishing off a superb move initiated by Ian Fahey from midfield; it gave Commercials a huge boost of a two-points lead going down the stretch.
Liam McGrath had it back to the minimum in the 52nd minute with his fourth free of the day, but that would be the Mid Tipp side's last score.
Michael Quinlivan and Jason Lonergan combined for Quinlivan to double his side's lead four minutes from time; and Quinlivan again finished off a move involving Kevin Fahey and Richie Gunne to seal the deal at 1-9 to 1-6.
The closing minutes tended to boil over just a little with referee David Grogan very busy.
Commercials corner-back Jamies Peters is tackled by Liam McGrath of Loughmore/Castleiney during Sunday's semi-final.
Five minutes from time Loughmore's John Ryan could feel hard done by to be black carded after a foul on Seamus Kennedy, considering there were nine yellow cards dished out on the day. Some considered Michael Quinlivan fortunate enough not to have taken a black card as early as the second minute.
Ryan's card was soon followed by the dismissal of Liam McGrath for a second yellow to reduce his side to 14 players with time almost up.
Then in time added-on Commercials' Jack Kennedy was black carded to be followed to the line almost immediately by Ross Peters (who took a black card to add to his first half yellow), thus leaving both sides with 14 on the pitch at the final whistle.
Whatever else was going to happen with Commercials, it seemed Loughmore were never getting in for the goal they needed to stay alive at the death.
Three-times champions over the last four years, Loughmore/Castleiney came up slightly short today against their arch-rivals Commercials (themselves champions in 2012 and 2015). The loss of last year's county final 'man of the match' Cian Hennessy to emigration has been a setback to their football for sure, but they battled on as they always do and on the day the likes of John Meagher, John Ryan, Liam Treacy, Ciarán McGrath, and Evan Sweeney were their top performers.
Clonmel Commercials: Michael O'Reilly, Jamie Peters, Liam Ryan, Donal Lynch (Capt), Kevin Fahey, Danny Madigan, Kevin Harney, Seamus Kennedy, Jack Kennedy (0-3F), Ross Peters, Jason Lonergan (1-2, 0-1F), Pauric Looram (0-1), Richie Carroll, Michael Quinlivan (0-3), Johnny Harney.
Subs: Ian Fahey for Carroll, and Richie Gunne for Johnny Harney (HT); Alan Lonergan for Looram (56); Eoin Fitzgerald for J. Kennedy (black card, 60+2).
Loughmore/Castleiney: Dominic Brennan, John Meagher, Willie Eviston, Tomás McGrath (Capt), Joseph Hennessy, Ciarán McGrath (0-1), John Ryan, Noel McGrath (1-0), John McGrath, Brian McGrath, David Kennedy, Aidan McGrath, Liam McGrath (0-4F), Liam Treacy, Evan Sweeney (0-1).
Subs: Eamon Connolly for B. McGrath (40); Joseph Nyland for Kennedy (46); Tommy Maher for Ryan (56).
Referee: David Grogan (Aherlow).