WEST TIPPERARY G.A.A. supplied by JJ Kennedy

S.H.C. Final: Golden\Eire Og 2-12 ..... Clonoulty\Rossmore 1-14.

The West Tipperary roll of honour has a new name added to the list following Sunday evening's final of the Tipperary Co-Op Super Valu championship at Dundrum. The combined forces of Golden and Annacarty chased down an injury-hit Clonoulty in an engrossing second half to finally pip the favourites with a sweetly struck free by Conor O'Brien deep into added time. It was a thrilling end to a game that will compare favourably with most of its predecessors despite the adverse weather. Continuous drizzle and treacherous underfoot conditions hindered crisp hurling but failed to dampen the competitive zeal of two totally committed sides who ensured a gripping tussle in this the 75th West Tipperary decider. A serious injury to Clonoulty's county U21 player, David Kennedy, was the only blemish on an otherwise memorable occasion. That unfortunate injury to one of Clonoulty's brightest upcoming talents happened just before half time as the combo' struck for their second goal. In a bid to prevent the score David Kennedy seemed to collide with his goalie Andrew Fryday. While Golden's Shane Stapleton slid home the goal a knot of Clonoulty defenders lay in a tangle on the ground. When they untangled David Kennedy lay motionless and it was immediately evident that serious damage was sustained.

Thankfully an ambulance service was on duty at the game and the player was quickly removed to hospital with a suspected broken leg. His loss to Clonoulty on the night was obvious as the game unfolded and it was bad news too for the county U21 selectors as they prepare for an assault on the All Ireland, starting with next weekend's semi-final. Up to that point the game had been an interesting and even affair. The combo began brightly but then Clonoulty got on top before parity was restored by half time. Clearly the sides were well matched and the spectators were relishing the exchanges. The combo drew first blood when their full forward line of John Quinn, Shane Stapleton and Ronan O'Brien were all on the scoreboard within two minutes of the start. Clonoulty's inside defence was under strain, eventually forcing the introduction of county minor, James Heffernan, to wing, with John Heffernan going corner to the exclusion of Liam Devane. However, after that wobbly start Clonoulty soon responded with Alan Kennedy leading the way shooting two points and forcing a switch of wingbacks for the combination, with Conor O'Brien moving across to shadow the Clonoulty man. Maurice Quirke soon had the game level at three apiece but then John Quinn sailed through for the combo's opening goal, which was the score that separated the sides at the end of the first quarter. Midway through the half Clonoulty enjoyed a bright spell sparked by an Alan Kennedy goal after Tom Butler fed him. County panellist, John Devane, started at full forward but he was now playing behind his own half back line with Vinny Ryan operating as an effective extra man in the combo defence. Clonoulty points by Stephen Kearney, Tom Butler (free) and John Devane soon had them three-up, though they were playing with a strong wind with Andrew Fryday's puck-outs regularly reaching his full forward line.

Just before half time a strong run by Damien O'Brien set up Shane Stapleton for an equalising goal and with David Kennedy being stretchered away the pendulum seemed to have tilted the combo's way at that stage. They retired on level scores, 2-4 for the combo and 1-7 for Clonoulty. Clonoulty's half time revision saw them draft John Devane the length of the pitch to full back with Michael Heffernan going to number six and Trevor O'Dwyer being sent to corner forward. They resumed smartly with points from Liam Kearney, Alan Kennedy (a side line 'cut') and Tom Butler (free) taking them three-up. It was a lead that in full or part they held until the dying moments of the game. But, while Clonoulty held a marginal advantage for most of that second half, they could never shrug off the stubborn resistance of the combo. Golden\Eire Og refused to be cowed, kept battling and ultimately reaped a rich reward. Their defence yielded a mere two points from play in that second half and one of those came from Clonoulty midfielder, Liam Kearney. They had a steady input from goalie, Mark Bargary, and even when he dropped one an impressive Kevin McCarthy was back on the line to deprive Trevor O'Dwyer with a fine save. Liam Mooney at number six developed with the game and finished very strongly, earning the crucial match winning free at the end. Donnacha Carr, despite his problems early on with Alan Kennedy, turned in a strong second half. The Fogartys shaded midfield, with Aidan the most prominent, and while the scoring honours went to John Quinn and Shane Stapleton in attack there were significant contributions too from the likes of Ronan O'Brien and team captain, David Fogarty.

The combo's persistence kept them in touch for most of that second half and with three minutes to play a Shane Stapleton point finally levelled the match. Almost immediately Clonoulty had a chance to regain the lead but Aidan Butler was wide with the free. It was a costly miss because three minutes over time a foul on Liam Mooney gave the combo a free from near the sideline and about sixty yards out. Conor O'Brien was the player who coolly slotted it home to earn a place in history as Clonoulty failed to get a leveller in the final minutes that referee Sean Bradshaw allowed. It was a disappointing exit for Clonoulty, though their year overall was uneven. Alan Kennedy and Tom Butler were their most effective players in attack, though Conor Ryan worked industriously too. The Kearney brothers had their moments at midfield while the defence always looked troubled.

Scorers for Golden\Eire Og: Shane Stapleton and John Quinn 1-2 each, Conor O'Brien 0-3 (two frees and a 65), Ronan O'Brien 0-2, David Fogarty (free), Brian Fogarty and Daithi Fogarty 0-1 each. Scorers for Clonoulty\Rossmore: Alan Kennedy 1-3, Tom Butler 0-5 (0-4 from frees), Aidan Butler 0-2 (a free and a 65), Maurice Quirke, Stephen Kearney, John Devane and Liam Kearney 0-1 each.

Golden\Eire Og: Mark Bargary (Golden); Vinny Ryan (Eire Og), Kevin McCarthy (Golden), Paul Fogarty (Golden); Donnacha Carr (Golden), Liam Mooney (Eire Og), Conor O'Brien (Eire Og); Aidan Fogarty and Brian Fogarty (both Golden); Damien O'Brien (Eire Og), David Fogarty Capt. (Golden), Jim 'Bob' McCarthy (Golden); John Quinn (Eire Og), Shane Stapleton (Golden), Ronan O'Brien (Eire Og). Sub: Daithi Fogarty (Golden) for Jim 'Bob' McCarthy.

Clonoulty\Rossmore: Andrew Fryday; Con O'Keeffe, Michael Heffernan, Liam Devane; Aidan Butler, David Kennedy, John Heffernan; Stephen Kearney and Liam Kearney; Maurice Quirke, Conor Ryan (C), Alan Kennedy; Fiachra O'Keeffe, John Devane, Tom Butler. Subs: James Heffernan for Liam Devane, Trevor O'Dwyer for David Kennedy (injured) and Paddy Sadlier for Fiachra O'Keeffe.

Ref: Sean Bradshaw, Kickhams.

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