Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-9 Stradbally 0-6
A STRONG defensive display, particularly from the full-back trio, inspired Kilmurry-Ibrickane to a deserved win over their Waterford opponents in the provincial semi-final played at Fraher Field in Dungarvan on Sunday.
This latest win by the Clare champions has seen them qualify for the provincial final for the second year in succession and they will play Kerry representatives Kerins O’Rahillys for the Munster title on Sunday, December 6.
The third meeting of these teams – their 2004 final went to a replay – ended with Kilmurry-Ibrickane repeating their ’04 victory. Ironically, in all three matches, Kilmurry’s tally has been the same, 0-9.
While the rain stayed away, the players had to contend with a near-galeforce wind that blew directly into the roadside goal at the Waterford venue. The winners had the aid of this wind in the opening half and when they went to the break with just five points to spare (0-7 to 0-2), their supporters, who had travelled in huge numbers, were somewhat concerned.
From an early stage in the second half it was clear that it was going to take something special to stop them from going through to a second successive final. As Stradbally piled on the pressure, they could find no way past a strong Kilmurry defence in which the full-back trio of Darren Hickey, Mark Killeen and Martin McMahon stood out.
Kilmurry-Ibrickane teams have always been noted for their “running game” and they certainly showed why in their latest outing. Their team work and short passing in the second half were central to this victory and also frustrated their opponents, who resorted to putting in some heavy challenges that led to the production of 10 yellow cards for Stradbally players by referee Brian Tyrell.
The home side ended the game with 13 players after Shane Lannan (53 minutes) and John Hearne (58 minutes) both saw yellow for the second time, which led to automatic dismissal.
The game produced many talking points but at the end of play there was no doubt that Kilmurry-Ibrickane deserved their victory. Stradbally followers will wonder what the outcome might have been had they converted a penalty in the second minute of injury time at the end of the first half but Kilmurry followers can point to a glorious goal opportunity their side missed with six minutes remaining in the half.
The value of a reliable free taker was highlighted again. Kilmurry-Ibrickane have been well served in this department in recent years when Johnnie Daly, Mark McCarthy, Ian McInerney and Odran O’Dwyer, to mention some, have done the business.
Veteran O’Dwyer kicked five excellent first-half points on Sunday from distances varying from 13 to 50 metres while, in the second half, Ian McInerney landed two vital scores from placed balls.
Noel Downes, in the starting line-up in place of Johnnie Daly in what was the only change from the team that started against Dromcollogher-Broadford two weeks earlier, opened the scoring in the second minute in what was the only score from play from the winner’s forward line.
Shortly afterwards he collided with the upright and side netting as he tried to prevent the ball going wide and struggled thereafter until he was replaced at the three-quarter stage.
Three pointed frees from O’Dwyer followed and the winners led 0-4 to 0-0 at the end of the opening quarter.
In a rare attack, Stradbally’s Thomas Connors saw his fisted effort end up in the Kilmurry-Ibrickane net and the umpire didn’t hesitate in raising the green flag, apparently satisfied that the last person to touch the ball was a Kilmurry defender. However, to the disappointment of the Stradbally followers, referee Tyrell disallowed the score and awarded Kilmurry a free.
An excellent score followed from Kilmurry captain Enda Coughlan before Niall Curran eventually opened the home side’s account when he converted a 13 metre free with 10 minutes remaining in the half. Another O’Dwyer free restored the winner’s five-point margin and they should have stretched this to eight a couple of minutes later.
Paul O’Connor found O’Dwyer and he quickly transferred to Ian McInerney, who passed to Noel Downes before taking the return with only Stradbally goalie Oliver Costello to beat. However, McInerney’s effort went inches outside the upright and the Waterford champions breathed a huge sigh of relief.
The sides exchanged points before the match official, in the second minute of injury time, penalised Shane Hickey in the Kilmurry defence for a foot block and pointed to the penalty spot. Shane Aherne’s effort was well wide of the target and Kilmurry went to the break leading on a score of 0-7 to 0-2.
While Stradbally did most of the attacking in the third quarter, they found it particularly difficult to break down a Kilmurry defence that got better as the game went on. The half was 13 minutes old before the home side managed to add to their tally and this score cancelled out an Ian McInerney effort six minutes after the resumption.
Time and again the full-backs won possession and started off moves that saw the ball transferred at pace to team-mates who showed great fitness.
Midfielders and half-forwards regularly dropped back to help their defenders and as the game progressed it was clear that it would take a huge effort to prevent Kilmurry from marching on.
The margin was down to three points when Lannon was sent off and Stradbally were down to 14 men.
A few minutes earlier, Pat Weldon had a great goal chance after Dermot O’Brien’s pass had been intercepted but the Stradbally corner-forward put his effort over the bar.
There were five minutes of injury time but still Stradbally could not break down the Clare side’s defence. When the final whistle eventually sounded there was a mighty roar from the travelling fans and, not surprisingly, the Kilmurry players quickly made their way over to the stand side of the pitch to applaud their loyal followers.
Darren Hickey, Mark Killeen, Martin McMahon, Enda Coughlan, Declan Callinan and Paul O’Connor were prominent for the winners on the day.
Kilmurry-Ibrickane: Dermot O’Brien; Darren Hickey, Mark Killeen, Martin McMahon; Shane Hickey, Enda Coughlan (capt), Declan Callinan; Paul O’Connor, Peter O’Dwyer; Michael Hogan, Ian McInerney, Stephen Moloney; Michael O’Dwyer, Odran O’Dwyer, Noel Downes.
Subs: Evan Talty for Downes (45 minutes); Johnnie Daly for O O’Dwyer (54 minutes); Paul O’Dwyer for Hogan (58 minutes).
Scorers: Odran O’Dwyer (0-5), all frees; Ian McInerney (0-2), frees; Enda Coughlan, Noel Downes, (0-1) each.
Frees: 31; Wides: 11.
Bookings: Martin McMahon (29 minutes); Shane Hickey (31 minutes).
Stradbally: Oliver Costello; Thomas Walsh, Kevin Coffey, Trevor Costello; Tony Gray, Eddie Rockett, Andy Doyle; John Coffey, John Hearne; Thomas Connors, Shane Aherne, Stephen Cunningham; Niall Curran, Robert Aherne, Shane Lannon.
Subs: Pat Weldon for Connors (41 minutes); Paddy Doyle for Andy Doyle (58 minutes).
Scorers: Niall Curran (0-3), all frees; Shane Aherne (0-2), frees; Pat Weldon (0-1).
Frees: 20; Wides: 3
Bookings: John Hearne (11 minutes and 58 minutes); Thomas Connors (28 minutes); Shane Aherne (32 minutes); John Coffey (38 minutes); Tony Grey (40 minutes); Eddie Rockett (40 minutes); Shane Lannon (47 minutes and 53 minutes); Pat Weldon (48 minutes)
Sent off: Shane Lannon (53 minutes) and John Hearne (58 minutes)
Referee: Brian Tyrell, Tipperary.
McDermott hails team display
“A tremendous, tremendous performance, particularly in the second half” was how Kilmurry-Ibrickane manager Micheal McDermott described his side’s display.
“They battled, they fought, they went for every ball. The support play is what Kilmurry-Ibrickane is all about, the way they play football, handpassing, handpassing. It was a joy to watch some of the football there in the second half, in a tough, physical battle because they were hit extremely hard. Kilmurry took the tackles and moved on, he said, as supporters congratulated him on leading the side to another Munster final. “We were lucky we had the scores in the first half. Maybe the goal would have put a different complexion on it for us but they missed a penalty. It’s all about getting to the Munster final and we have two weeks to prepare for it,” added the newly appointed Clare senior boss.
He agreed that the Kilmurry the full-back line played a key role. “We told them they were going to bombard the ball in on top of them in the second half. Our full-back trio were extremely clever. Mark Killeen caught some great ball. Darren Hickey became a real man today for a young lad of 19. He tore into everything. They were comfortable and confident in themselves,” added the Cavan native.
“We said, don’t let fear lose this game, and they went with abandon today. We saw a video of Stradbally from their own county final and learned a lot from that. They are a very physical team. They are a bit like ourselves this year in that they work extremely hard off the ball and tackle hard.
“We had to stand up to some tough tackles and there will be a lot of sore bodies tonight but they will enjoy it in Quilty. It’s brilliant for a club in West Clare to go to a Munster final two years in succession. That is some achievement for any club in the country but it’s no use in getting there. We were there last year and came away with real heartache and it hurt me for a long time after that day. This time we want to win it.”
On hearing that county intermediate champions Cratloe had defeated Valley Rovers he agreed thatit was a fantastic day for Clare football. “I am delighted for Colm Collins and Ger Lawlor because they are putting in great work down there. Anytime you beat the Cork intermediate champions you have earned it. It’s a fantastic day for Clare football and we hope 2010 will be a fantastic year for Clare football and we will do our level best to make sure it is,” he concluded.