Ahearne brothers lead Stradbally into final

Stradbally 2-8 The Nire 1-8: The Ahearne brothers blasted Stradbally into their seventh Waterford SFC final in succession as they dethroned champions The Nire with a performance of savage intensity in appalling conditions at Fraher Field last night.
Ahearne brothers lead Stradbally into final

The imposing double act combined for 2-6 as Pat Curran’s outfit pressurised their opponents high up the field and reaped a rich dividend from their persistent aerial deliveries.

The rain lashed down all evening in Dungarvan and a crossfield breeze swept across the field. Stradbally chose the route one option into the Ahearnes early on, and the twin towers were responsible for 1-5 between them over the first half hour.

The Reds devoured their opponents on kickouts and camped in opposition territory for the entire first quarter. They pressed up man to man and applied heat on the holders. Corner back Justin Walsh made a goal-saving block at the feet of Ger Power in the second minute but Michael Sweeney was on hand to kick the first point.

Shane Ahearne added a second with Luke Casey and Daniel Weldon involved in a flowing build-up. On 10 minutes, Michael Sweeney and Ger Power teed up Robert Ahearne to discharge a rocket to the top corner of the net past Thomas Wall.

The aerial bombardment continued and the Ahearnes were on target to send them 1-4 to 0-0 clear with only 14 minutes gone.

The team in gold waited until the quarter hour for Shane Walsh to raise a white flag. Shane Ahearne replied with a well struck 45 to maintain their seven-point advantage. The Nire tried to work their way patiently back into the game but only managed to pare the deficit down to six at halfway (1-6 to 0-3). Robert Ahearne fielded another lofty delivery from Tommy Connors to keep Stradbally in command.

The Nire made a triple substitution during the interval but their hopes were dealt a fatal blow two minutes into the second half. Shane Ahearne slipped as he took a 45 and the ball dipped under the crossbar to land in the corner of the cobwebs (2-6 to 0-3). Maurice O’Gorman and Shane Walsh persevered for the Ballymacarbry side and they knocked over three points in a row.

Referee Anthony Fitzgerald had to keep a close eye on a hard hitting contest, flashing seven yellows cards.

Stradbally eased off towards the finish and the injection of fresh legs from The Nire bench started to make rapid inroads. With four minutes left, Conor Gleeson fielded Brian Wall’s pass and Dermot Ryan slotted the ball home in composed fashion (2-7 to 1-8).

Shane Ahearne intervened with a couple of vital plays to settle Stradbally before substitute Eoin O’Brien clinched it with a fisted effort. Shane Walsh received a straight red deep in injury-time for an off-the-ball incident.

Scorers for Stradbally:

S Ahearne 1-4 (1-1 45s, 1f); R Ahearne 1-2; M Sweeney, E O’Brien 0-1 each.

Scorers for The Nire:

C Gleeson 0-4 (4fs); D Ryan 1-0; S Walsh 0-2; J Barron, B Wall (f) 0-1 each.

STRADBALLY:

E Cunningham; K Lawlor, K Coffey, L Casey; J Mullaney, T Grey, S Lannon; M Walsh, J Hearne; T Connors, M Sweeney, D Weldon; S Ahearne, R Ahearne, G Power.

Subs:

J Coffey for Power (39); P Kiely for Weldon (49); D Grey for Hearne (52); E O’Brien for Sweeney (60).

THE NIRE:

T Wall; J Walsh, T O’Gorman, D Wall; S Lawlor, Maurice O’Gorman, J McGrath; S Walsh, C Guiry; B Wall, Darren Guiry, J Barron; Dylan Guiry, C Gleeson, S Ryan.

Subs:

M Walsh for S Lawlor (H-T); Michael O’Gorman for C Guiry (H-T); D Ryan for S Ryan (H-T); G Hearn for Dylan Guiry (43); M Moore for Barron (52).

Referee:

A Fitzgerald

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