Kilmurry/Ibrickane 0-9 Stradbally 0-6
In truth, this was a game that will be best forgotten by all concerned and the only people who left the old Boro venue happy were those who donned the green and red colours of the winners.
The gale force wind and the tricky underfoot conditions dictated that this game would never be a classic but in truth it didn’t come anywhere close to that. The fact that between the two teams, they only managed three points from play over the course of the hour tells its own story. It could even be argued that one of those points from play was a missed goal and not down to any particular degree of great skill.
Aided by the strong wind, Kilmurry/Ibrickane raced out of the traps and opened the scoring through a fine point from Noel Downes. Playing against the strong wind, Stradbally really needed to be forceful but disciplined in the tackle. They failed to do this and gave away too many frees which former Clare player Odhran O’Dwyer converted with ease.
Kilmurry/Ibrickane’s captain, Enda Coughlan broke up the field in the 19th minute to knock over a fine point which left his side five points in front.
A minute earlier, there was a moment of controversy when Stradbally’s Thomas Connors attempted to hand-pass a point. His effort was held up in the wind and despite the best efforts of Kilmurry/Ibrickane corner-back, Martin McMahon, ended up in the net. The umpire waved the green flag to indicate a goal but Kilmurry/Ibrickane protested strongly as you cannot hand-pass the ball to the net. The referee agreed with the defenders and awarded a free out to the Clare men.
In the 21st minute, Stradbally finally opened their tally when Niall Curran converted an easy free.
The Clare champions went straight down the field and O’Dwyer scored another free. Stradbally found it difficult to get any fluidity to their play and they seemed to give the ball back to Kilmurry/Ibrickane as quickly as they won it. The result was that Kilmurry/Ibrickane were gifted several good point scoring opportunities which weren’t all converted. While O’Dwyer had a perfect record from placed balls, the same could not be said of his colleagues around him. Kilmurry/Ibrickane racked up a tally of seven wides during the first half and this is something their manager Micheál McDermott will be keen to rectify before the final.
With Stradbally trailing by 0-7 to 0-2 and the game entering first half injury time, they were awarded a controversial penalty for an apparent foot block. Unfortunately for the Waterford champions, Shane Aherne drove his penalty well wide and Stradbally went into the break facing a five point deficit instead of a two point one.
Stradbally required a fast start to the second half to put the pressure on their western rivals but the first score of the second period was an expertly taken free from Kilmurry/Ibrickane centre-forward, Ian McInerney.
It took Stradbally thirteen minutes to open their second half account and this came from a Niall Curran free.
Three minutes later, Stradbally had a golden opportunity to put a huge dent in the deficit when Curran set up Pat Weldon. Unfortunately, Weldon’s effort went over the bar and Stradbally had to be content with a point.
Despite dominating possession for most of the second half, Stradbally could find no way past the Kilmurry/Ibrickane defence where the entire full-back line was magnificent throughout.
With nine minutes remaining another free from Niall Curran left Stradbally three points in arrears.
Referee Brian Tyrell from Tipperary had been throwing out yellow cards like confetti, especially to Stradbally players. As the hits went in, it was only a matter of time before somebody was ordered off. The dubious honour went to Shane Lannon who picked up a second yellow card in the 54th minute and was sent to the line.
Another free from Ian McInerney increased Kilmurry/Ibrickane’s lead to four points with only two minutes on the clock and this proved to be the insurance point.
There was still enough time left for John Hearne to join Shane Lannon on the line as he was sent off after an altercation with McInerney.
Shane Aherne did convert a free for Stradbally but it was not to be and Kilmurry/Ibrickane held on for a three point victory.
Afterwards, Stradbally were highly critical of referee, Brian Tyrell and the statistics would indicate that they might have a point. Tyrell awarded thirty-two frees to Kilmurry/Ibrickane compared to twenty for Stradbally. A look at the yellow card statistics tells a similar story with eight for Stradbally and two for Kilmurry/Ibrickane. However, discipline was an issue for Stradbally and having dished out so many yellow cards for seemingly innocuous challenges, Tyrell was actually lenient to a couple of Stradbally players in the closing stages.
Stradbally battled hard all day as a team and on a day with few stand-out individual displays, John Coffey was the one player who stood out for Stradbally. He got on the ball and used it wisely all afternoon and more than made up for the loss of Michael Walsh through injury.
For Kilmurry/Ibrickane, the star man was certainly full-back Mark Killeen who was the game’s best performer. Elsewhere there were fine performances from his two full-back line colleagues Darren Hickey and Martin McMahon. Team captain, Enda Coughlan played well at centre-back while corner-forward Noel Downes looked dangerous until picking up an injury.
Kilmurry/Ibrickane now go on to play Kerins O’Rahilly of Tralee in the final. They will have to improve their shooting if they are to upset the men from the Kingdom.
Kilmurry/Ibrickane: D O’Brien, D Hickey, M Killeen, M McMahon, S Hickey, E Coughlan, D Callinan, P O’Connor, Peter O’Dwyer, M Hogan, I McInerney, S Moloney, M O’Dwyer, O O’Dwyer, N Downes. Subs: E Talty for N Downes, J Daly for O O’Dwyer, Paul O’Dwyer for M Hogan.
Scorers: O O’Dwyer 0-5f, I McInerney 0-2, N Downes 0-1, E Coughlan 0-1
Stradbally: O Costello, T Walsh, K Coffey, T Costello, T Grey, E Rockett, A Doyle, J Coffey, J Hearne, T Connors, S Aherne, S Cunningham, N Curran, R Aherne, S Lannon. Subs: P Weldon for T Connors, P Doyle for A Doyle.
Scorers: N Curran 0-3f, S Aherne 0-2f, P Weldon 0-1
Referee: B Tyrell (Tipperary).