By Michael Dundon, Semple Stadium
After an eight-year absence, Moyle Rovers are back on top of the football pile in Tipperary courtesy of a comprehensive eight-point win over neighbours Ardfinnan at Semple Stadium, Thurles, yesterday, in a contest that did not come up to expectations for the 2,863 spectators.
Trailing by four points after 26 minutes, with a shock on the cards, Rovers changed gears to close the gap to a point before half-time and then ran riot in the second half with nine unanswered points in 24 minutes putting the game well beyond Ardfinnan’s reach.
Team manager, former club and county player Noel Fitzgerald, confessed afterwards that he was concerned about the outcome right to the finish but he hailed his charges.
“We prepared hard for this all year. I have utmost confidence in the resilience of this bunch. They showed against Commercials in the semi-final and Killenaule before that that they never give up. They just keep fighting and they are a credit to the club and themselves,” he said.
Red-hot favourites with the bookmakers, Moyle Rovers were slow to get into stride against an Ardfinnan team that looked full of ideas and energy. The sides shared four points in the opening quarter but then Ardfinnan reeled off four points without reply in nine minutes through Sean Nagle, Daniel O’Regan, and Michael Barlow (2) to go 0-6 to 0-2 clear after 26 minutes.
Before the break Rovers recovered with points from Liam Boland (2) and Shane Foley but on the stroke of half-time Ardfinnan’s appeals for a penalty, when Daniel O’Regan was grounded in the goal area, were turned down by referee Sean Everard.
“Those three Moyle Rovers points and our not getting the penalty hit us hard and unsettled our boys at half-time. We never really recovered from that setback in the second half,” Ardfinnan coach John Evans, the former Tipperary coach and Kerry player, said afterwards.
Certainly the second half belonged to Moyle Rovers who took complete control. They were dominant in every quarter and after drawing level with Liam Boland’s point after 35 minutes, they added a further eight points without replay over the next 20 minutes to coast 0-14 to 0-6 clear with six minutes to go.
Colin O’Shaughnessy landed Ardfinnan’s first score of the second half two minutes later and when sub Paul Kennedy netted for Ardfinnan after 58 minutes, just five points separated the sides to set up the prospect of a thrilling finish.
Ardfinnan’s hopes were immediately dashed however as Rovers surged upfield and when Liam Boland’s shot came off the post, Shane Foley was on hand to slot home the goal that sealed Rovers’ victory.
Scorers for Moyle Rovers:
S Foley (1-2); L Boland (0-5, 2 frees); D Foley (0-2); R Mulcahy, D McGrath, R Power, S Quirke, S Carey, D Owens (0-1 each)
P Kennedy (1-0); M Barlow (0-2); B Hewitt, D O’Regan, C O’Shaughnessy, C O’Gorman, S Nagle (0-1 each).
C Kenrick; P Morrissey,A Campbell, M Irwin; D McGrath, R Mulcahy, Luke Boland; R Power, P Acheson; D Ryan, S Quirke, S Carey; Liam Boland, S Foley, D Owens;
A McGrath for Carey (36 mins), T Fitzgerald for Luke Boland (44), D Foley for Quirke (45), R Quigley for D Owens (56),D Dwyer for Campbell (60), J Harney for S Foley (60).
M Goonan; E Walsh, J Ryan, M O Sullivan; D O’Leary, C O’Shaughnessy, G Whelan; G Cronin, S Nagle; B Hewitt, D Nugent, A Lonergan; M Barlow, D O’Regan, C O’Gorman;
P Kennedy for Barlow (46 mins), J Coffey for Bnugent (48), A Savage for O’Regan (55), J O’Mahoney for Lonergan (60).
S Everard (Moyne-Templetuohy).