AIB All Ireland Senior Club Football Championship
The London champions are out of the All Ireland Club series following a nine-point defeat against Munster champions Clonmel Commercials.
Tir Chonaill Gaels were looking to reach their first semi-final in the competition in their 16th attempt, but the strength of the Tipperary champs, who have four senior inter-county players gracing their side, proved too much.
The killer blow came within 15 seconds of the second half, with Adam Askin sent off soon afterwards, and with Gaels playing against the wind, the disadvantage became too much for them to reverse.
Clonmel started the brighter of the two sides and recorded their first point through Padraig White from a Ian Barnes assist. The Commercials held possession for the next period, but Mark Gottsche won the most significant amount of possession for his side from a breaking ball, using the wind to his advantage perfectly to pass to Niall Boyle who won a free for Seamus Friel to equalise.
Jake McDonald took his time to kick out, to objection from the Gaels’ bench, but he conceded it to his opponents and an impressive one-two move between captain Marty McCoy and Cathal Magee set up Gottsche, whose effort went just wide.
Clonmel would score next, as Aldo Matassa sent a looping ball towards goal which Michael Quinlivan fisted over, to the Gaels’ relief as he was in prime position to go for goal. Quinlivan, the hero from the Munster final a fortnight previously, where he clinched a late injury-time goal to see off seven-time All-Ireland champions Nemo Rangers, would hit the next effort off of the post. Barnes increased the lead on 14 minutes with a pointed free and then passed to Quinlivan a minute later to set up Seamus Kenneddy for their side’s fourth point.
Gottsche would again come to the fore for the Gaels’ response, and winning the ball from the kick-out made use of a quick pass away to McCoy who struck an excellent point from the right for the Gaels’ second.
Philip Butler, who was most consistent in defence for the Gaels, made an uncharacteristic error for the Commercials’ next point when he optimistically chose the wrong pass to fellow London-born player Liam Gavaghan to clear. But it was swiftly intercepted and converted by Jason Lonergan to increase the Tipp’s side’s lead once more. The Gaels’ powered on, but their next efforts would go wide before Friel set up Adrian Hanlon for his first at the 20-minute mark.
Lonergan got possession again, and got his shot away too easily, but to the Gaels’ fortune it went just wide. They wouldn’t be so lucky the next time however, as Quinlivan found Ian Fahey just outside the square and the half-forward made no mistake in striking the ball powerfully past Declan Traynor to rattle the net, leaving the Gaels’ defence stunned.
Matassa, who had been one of his side’s livelier players up until then, was giving his marching orders with a black card for a cynical foul on Gottsche, which Friel again converted to bring the gap down to four points.
It was to be a purple period for the Gaels as they got a further two unanswered points before the half-time whistle, with Ronan Breen and Butler doing well in defence to give the ball back to Gottsche who assisted Magee for the score of the half. It was Gottsche who was the catalyst again as he passed to Magee, and when he was pulled down by Quinlivan, the star-player was also given a black card for stopping the Gaels’ point scoring opportunity.
Hanlon then scored the resultant free, and the Gaels were within two points at the break, but it could have been less had Cathal Magee been more fortunate with his next effort, which hit the post, and when Niall Boyle’s effort went just wide.
The restart proved to be a talking point in itself, as Irish TV’s coverage delayed Roscommon referee Paddy Neilan, from starting when ready for about two minutes. Perhaps it put the players’ concentration askew but straight from winning the throw-in, substitute Padraig Looram gained possession and ran straight at goal before firing an unstoppable shot beyond Traynor’s reach. The home-side were now five points down again, and an almost immediate pointed free from White put two goals between the sides.
It wasn’t getting any better for the Gaels as in the next phase of play Adam Askin, already on a yellow card, was given a black card, and his marching orders with an immediate red card, for a late trip on an opponent. The Gaels continued to look for a deadlock though through Gottsche and Gavaghan, who came into the game a lot more in the second half.
Hanlon would put his next effort wide, before using a free to attempt a short training-pitch pass to Cathal Magee, which was wasted when passed back to Hanlon who was put under pressure by the Commercials’ backs.
Gavaghan would score his first in the next play, as he attempted to spur on his team, which was created by some impressive work by McCoy on the left wing. The midfield duo of Gottsche and Gavaghan, who held their own in the most competitive battle on the pitch, would give Gaels the next as the former set up the latter for his second point.
Although playing against the wind the Gaels were starting to see much more of the play, but when Eamon McConville’s next effort fell short the Commericals were not going to relax with the lead and began to answer every question Tir Chonaill asked of them.
A Seamus Kennedy run would set up Ian Fahey for their next, and the kick out straight away fell to Lonergan who gave the side a 2-10 scoreline as the tie reached its closed. The drama wasn’t finished yet, and Brian Duddy found himself in a goal-scoring opportunity which forced an impressive save from Jake McDonald to prevent an exciting climax. Gottsche would score the Gaels’ final point with a stirring ‘45’ attempt against the wind, before White got the final score with his own pointed free.
Clonmel Commericals will now go on to face Dublin’s Ballyboden St Enda’s in their first ever All- Ireland club campaign in February.
Tir Chonaill Gaels: Declan Traynor, Philip Butler, Ronan Breen, Brendan Atarnsey, Gary Magee, Eamon McConville, Marty McCoy (0- 1), Mark Gottsche (0-1, 1 ‘45’), Liam Gavaghan (0-2), Adam Askin, Cathal Magee (0-1), Niall Boyle, Anthony McDermott, Seamus Friel (0-2, 2f), Adrian Hanlon (0-2, 1f)
Substitutes: Brian Collins for McAtarnsey (20), Brian Ross for G Magee (44), Brian Duddy for Hanlon (47), John McGrath for Breen (57, black card)
Clonmel Commercials: Jake McDonald, Fergal Condon, Donal Lynch, Jamie Peters, Ian Barnes (0-1), Seamus Kennedy (0-1), Kevin Fahey; Jack Kennedy (0-1), Aldo Matassa, Luke Moore, Ian Fahey (1-1), Jason Lonergan (0-3, 1f), Kevin Harney, Michael Quinlivan (0- 1), Padraig White (0-3, 2f)
Substitutes: Padraig Looram (1-0) for Matassa (25, black card), Niall Kelly (0-1) for Quinlivan (30, black card), Eoin Fitzgerald for Barnes (44), Danny Madigan for Looram (50), Ross Peters for Fahey (56