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Clounoulty Rossmore 0-7 Galtee Rovers 0-10

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

U21 'A' H.C. semi-final: Galtee Rvs. 0-10 ..... Clonoulty\Rossmore 0-7.

Galtee Rvs. remain on course for retention of their O'Dwyer Steel West U21 'A' hurling crown after they squeezed through narrowly against Clonoulty\Rossmore in an exciting semi-final, played at Cashel on Saturday last. An excellent point by Kieran Bergin, nine minutes from the end, was the flag that finally separated the sides in a gripping contest. Rovers now face Kickhams in a promising final showdown next weekend.

Despite difficult underfoot conditions the sides served up a gripping contest that could have tilted either way, though on balance Galtees looked slightly stronger and deserved their narrow win. Incredibly the teams were level on seven occasions during the hour and two points was the maximum margin that ever separated them. Such was the tightness in a game contested with admirable spirit.

In the end a powerful second half display from Galtees' midfielder, Pat Marnane, can be identified as a crucial element in the outcome. His pace and skill was a constant menace to Clonoulty and he ensured majority possession for his side in the crucial last quarter of the match. David Morrissey too chipped in with a healthy contribution at midfield for Rovers, though his free taking proved faulty on the night, a factor that might have been costly.

Others too played leading roles in Galtees' progress. Kieran Bergin was a major threat in an attack that was boosted by the return of David Byron from injury. The defence was miserly tight with Andrew Morrissey on top at centre after a slow start and Christopher Higgins, Anthony Boles and Eamonn O'Connell all having useful moments.

It takes two, however, to produce a game of this quality and Clonoulty put up a brave resistance throughout. Goalie Timmy Hammersley won deserved applause for an outstanding save in the first half and like his Bansha counterpart he too kept a clean sheet over the hour. Tadhg Ryan and Kevin Horan on the right flank of the Clonoulty defence turned in storming displays with James Heffernan holding the centre commandingly. David Kennedy and Seanie O'Dwyer were a busy midfield pair, though the team had less forward threat than Rovers and that proved decisive in the end. Stephen Kearney started well at centre forward, but they managed a mere two second half points, which in the end was not enough.

In a goal-less game Clonoulty had a great chance as early as the eight minute when Tommy Quinn nudged one just wide from a goalmouth scramble. Despite wind backing Clonoulty spent the first quarter playing catch-up in the nip-and-tuck exchanges. Two points from Stephen Kearney were a highlight, but at the other end Kieran Bergin was posing a major threat for Bansha, hitting the target three times, twice from play. Timmy Hammersley denied David Byron with that great save eight minutes from the interval and even though Bansha improved in the second quarter they still trailed by one at the interval, 0-6 to 0-7.

A Tommy Quinn free pointed Clonoulty two-up on resuming but by the three quarter mark Galtees had hit the front with points from David Morrissey (two, one a free) and Pat Marnane. An excellent Declan O'Dwyer point regained parity for Clonoulty and there were still nine minutes to play when Kieran Bergin swung over a quality point for Rovers from near the right sideline. It would prove the winner as both teams missed chances galore in the final quarter of a memorable match.

Scorers for Clonoulty\Rossmore: Tommy Quinn 0-4 (0-3 from frees), Stephen Kearney 0-2, Fiachra O'Keeffe, Daithi Maher and Declan O'Dwyer 0-1 each.

Galtee Rvs.: Tony O'Brien; Kevin Bergin, Anthony Boles, Mark O'Brien; Eamonn O'Connell, Andrew Morrissey, Christopher Higgins; Pat Marnane and David Morrissey; Kieran Marnane, David Byron, Michael Byron; Brendan Murphy, Kieran Bergin, Donal Collins. Sub: Damien Ryan for Michael Byron.

Clonoulty\Rossmore: Timmy Hammersley; Kevin Horan, Conor Lyons, Brian Lyons; Tadhg Ryan, James Heffernan, Liam Devane; Sean O'Dwyer and David Kennedy; Daithi Maher, Stephen Kearney, Padraig Ryan (L); Tommy Quinn, Declan O'Dwyer, Fiachra O'Keeffe. Subs: Philip O'Connor for Padraig Ryan and Paudie White for Daithi Maher.

Ref: John Ryan, Cashel K.C.