David Grey’s injury time point meant this was the fourth time in a decade that Nire lost to the same opponents in the such heartbreaking circumstances. The losers bossed long spells of this tie before veteran Ger Power’s fisted goal in the 48th minute gave Stradbally the lead for the first time, and dramatically changed the course of this decider.
Nire raced into a four points lead midway through the opening half (0-5 to 0-1) before retiring 0-7 to 0-4 clear at the break. Stradbally’s woes were compounded by injuries to corner-back Trevor Costelloe and midfielder John Hearne with both players removed to hospital. Niall Curran’s pointed free for Stradbally within two minutes of the restart was neutralised by a magnificent Shane Walsh effort in the 36th minute, but it was back to a two point game on the three quarter hour when John Coffey kicked a great score.
‘Brick’ Walsh began to shine in his roving midfield role for Nire and the goal they were threatening came in the 48th minute when Power fisted Robert Ahearne’s well flighted centre to the net.
It gave Stradbally the lead for the first time, and soon after the outstanding Ahearne pointed a 45 to open a two point gap.
But back came Nire as points from Shane Walsh and Thomas O’Gorman had the sides deadlocked again by the 55th minute.
It was looking more and more like extra-time as the clock ticked past the hour mark, but into the second of two minutes of added time sub Grey became the Stradbally hero with the winning score. There will be little time for Stradbally to celebrate with a Munster Club semi-final date with Castlehaven on Sunday.
Scorers for Stradbally: S. Ahearne (0-4, 0-1 free, 0-1 “45’’); G. Power (1- 0); N. Curran (0-2, frees); J. Coffey, D. Grey (0-1) each.
Scorers for Nire: S. Walsh (0-3, 0-1 free); B. Wall (0-2, 0-1 free); L Lawlor (0-2); D. Guiry, S. Ryan, T. O’Gorman (0-1) each.
STRADBALLY: O. Costelloe; A. Dole, K. Coffey, T. Costelloe; T. Grey, E. Rockett, S. Lannon; M. Walsh, J. Hearne; P.Kiely, G. Power, J. Coffey; N.Curran, S. Ahearne, R. Ahearne.
Subs: P. Doyle for T.Costelloe inj (5); S. Cunningham for Hearne inj (28); D. Grey for A. Doyle (40); L. Casey for P. Doyle (59); T. Curran for Power (60).
NIRE: T. Wall; J. McGrath, Mce. O’Gorman, J. Walsh; S. Lawlor, M. Walsh, J. Moore; Ml. O’Gorman, T. O’Gorman; D. Guiry, B. Wall, J. Barron; S. Walsh, L. Lawlor, S. Ryan.
Subs: R. Fenton for L. Lawlor, inj(44); D. Wall for Ryan(53).
Referee: Alan Kissane, Dunhill.