Nire deliver in extraordinary game in semi-final

Nire 0-13; Clashmore 0-10

Leading from first minute until last, Nire duly confirmed most pre-match expectations by advancing to this weekend’s Lawlor’s Hotel County Senior Football Final by registering a three-point victory over Clashmore at bitterly-cold Fraher Field on Saturday afternoon last.

This all-Western affair proved extraordinary in many respects, not least the absence of any green flag and the fact that the bulk of the winners’ tally came from play, their midfield partnership Shane Walsh and Brian Wall contributing generously in that regard.

After an interesting opening half, the end of which saw the winners seven points to four in front, the contest deteriorated a fair deal in the second period and was given the kiss of death as early as the 36th minute, when arising from two separate incidents, two Clashmore players were sidelined on receipt of second yellow cards.

While the numerical disadvantage didn’t prevent the rank outsiders from putting in a strong finish – and with a little

luck they might very well have caused a dramatic recovery – the truth of the matter is that Nire and indeed the vast majority of onlookers knew long before the end that the result was inevitable.

Bright start

 

Right from the very start, Nire clearly looked the better all round side and the ease and confidence with which they moved the ball around made Clashmore folk recognise that they had a mighty assignment on their hands. The Big Valley outfit was early on the offensive and inside two minutes they had scored twice and certainly looked the part in the process. A returned pass from a Shane Walsh low free provided the winners’ outstanding midfielder with his first of half a dozen points, and very quickly the process was repeated, this time Liam Lawlor deftly finishing over the bar.

The strength and volume of continued Nire pressure suggested that Clashmore might be overwhelmed and when Shane Walsh raised the winners third white flag direct from a ‘45′ in the 8th minute, it definitely looked ominous for the green and

red colours. However, not to be outdone and in an encouraging response, diminutive Killian won a good ball from the kick out and managed to open his team’s account. With Karl O’Keeffe performing trojan work in helping out his defence, Clashmore started to claw their way back into contention, but not before Shane Walsh rifled over a brace of excellent points from play in quick succession, making it 0-6 to 0-1 after 19 minutes.

But inspired by a rapid fire response from the impressive Brian O’Halloran in the form of a fisted point in the 20th minute, Clashmore went on to secure a fair measure of possession and quite frankly should have made better use of it. They did narrow the gap a little just before the interval when Brian O’Halloran had his third point from a placed position in the 29th minute, to leave it still all to play for going into recess with the score 0-7 to 0-4.

Dismissals

 

Warned by the manner Clashmore came at the end of the first half, Nire restarted in more businesslike fashion and inside thirty second extended their lead to double score figures, when a quickly taken Shane Walsh free was finished over for point number eight by his brother Martin.

Then just after Seamus Landers had been denied a Clashmore reply by the upright at the other end, a minute of sheer madness ensued during which in two separate incidents two Clashmore players, Stephen Barron and Seamus Landers, already on yellow cards, were dismissed by referee Tim O’Byrne for dangerous play.

One felt at the time it marked the beginning of the end for the team already four points in arrears. Indeed, Nire’s numerical advantage was really beginning to show and by the start of the last quarter at which stage they had extended their lead to seven points, thanks to additional scores from Martin Walsh, Brian Wall and Michael Moore.

To all intents and purposes Clashmore, who had only registered once on the scoreboard since the restart, looked well and truly beaten.

Late rally

 

But defying the odds and making it look at times as if it was the winners who were shorthanded, Clashmore dug deep and put in a storming finish which extended into a quite generous additional six minutes of extra time. They actually out-pointed Nire during the closing ten minutes.

First Sean Fleming and Brian Wall exchanged points, before Clashmore’s late rally continued in exciting fashion. From placed positions Sean Fleming pointed in the 52nd and 53rd minutes and when Kieran Connery found the range in the 56th minute, the deficit was down to four points (0-12 to 0-8) and anything was possible.

But by the time the hour mark had been reached, the situation was unaltered following a swapping of points by Shane Walsh and the impressive second half Clashmore replacement Fintan Walsh.

While the bulk of the attendance were already making tracks for the exits, play continued on for a further five minutes during which Clashmore persistence paid off with a 65th minute Karl O’Keeffe point. But Nire were safely through to the Final on an eventual 0-13 to 0-10 scoreline.

Stood out

 

Overall this was a thoroughly deserved Nire victory and any other result would have been a travesty of justice. From start to finish Thomas and Maurice O’Gorman, Shane and Martin Walsh admirably stood out, with others like David Ryan, Brian Wall and John Moore also playing well.

Despite their early second half problems, Clashmore showed well enough to suggest that we haven’t seen the end of this team – not by a long shot. The losers had outstanding performers in the likes of Karl and Cillian O’Keeffe, Brian O’Halloran, Philip Dee, Jason Seward and Sean Fleming. 

Nire: Tom Flynn, James McGrath, Thomas O’Gorman, Paul Prendergast, John Moore, David Ryan, Maurice O’Gorman, Shane Walsh, Brian Wall, Diarmuid Wall, Connie Power, Michael O’Gorman, Liam Lawlor, Martin Walsh, Michael Moore. Subs: Richard Fenton for Michael O’Gorman, Shane McGrath for Martin Walsh.

Scorers: Shane Walsh 0-6 (0-1 ‘45), Brian Wall 0-3, Martin Walsh 0-2, Liam Lawlor and Michael Moore 0-1 each.

Clashmore: Brian O’Neill, Eddie Beresford, Jason Seward, Ciaran Bourke, Mike Fenton, Philip Dee, Kieran Connery, Mark Power, Stephen Barron, Declan Allen, Seamus Landers, Karl O’Keeffe, Brian O’Halloran, Cillian O’Keeffe, Sean Fleming. Subs: Fintan Walsh for M Power, Barry Dunne for B O’Halloran.

Scorers: Brian O’Halloran 0-4 (frees), Sean Fleming 0-2 (0-1 free), Cillian O’Keeffe, Kieran Connery, Fintan Walsh, Karl O’Keeffe 0-1 each.

Referee: Tadgh O Broin (Rogha Eireann).

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