The Tipperary team
A good friend of mine tells teams that he coaches “every game starts with a throw-in. Win it or kill it”.
Rockwell won it, Grangemockler didn’t kill it, and 20 seconds later, TJ Ryan is running at the Grangemockler defense and popping a lovely floated hand pass across the goal for Eoin Byrne to tap to the net.
It was an early body blow for the South team, many of them who looked so young and light you’d say, if they were jockeys they would be entitled to claim the full allowance.
To their credit, they put it behind them and settled into their game. A John Lyons free opened their account in the 2nd minute and already we could tell that we were in for an enjoyable game between two teams who had come to play ball.
Alan Moloney marked a beautiful pass from Gavin Ryan for a point in the 5th minute before Mark O’Meara replied 2 minutes later with a monster kick from down around the Aldi car park.
Kerry’s Dick Fitzgerald wrote one of the first coaching books on Gaelic Football. The title was simply “How to Play Gaelic Football”. In it he wrote, “a goalkeeper might have little to do but he must do that little well”.
In the 8th minute, Rockwell keeper, Michael O’Donnell saved brilliantly from Manus McFadden and one minute later the Grangemockler keeper, David Power produced an equally good save from Gavin Ryan. Dick Fitzgerald would have approved.
The contrast in styles was fascinating.
Grangemockler were playing a short passing running game but displayed a weakness for going down the middle when they might have been better served to keep it wide and try to drag the Rockwell defenders out of position. It was common to see them work the ball to the 45m line only to find themselves surrounded by two or three Rockwell defenders and end up getting good possession turned over. By the time the first water break arrived, they had lost possession on 12 occasions, two of those turnovers resulted in points for Rockwell.
Rockwell on the other hand were playing a more traditional style. They withdrew their half-forward line to leave space in front of their full-forward line and when they gained possession they hit that full-forward line with good early ball. The fortunes of the two full forward lines tells a story in itself. Rockwell’s inside line finished the game with 1:06 between them while at the other end, Grangemockler’s full-forward line were deprived of quick ball and ended the game with just one point from talented Mikey Lyons.
If the term “end to end football” didn’t already exist, we would have to invent it. When Michael Cusack fused the best aspects of soccer and rugby into a new game, which he would call Gaelic Football, I have no doubt that this was the type of game he dreamed of.
John Lyons (2 frees) Manus McFadden and Colin O’Shea swapped points with Eoin Byrne, Alan Moloney and Gavin Ryan and as the teams headed for their half time Jaffa Cakes, Rockwell led 1:06 to 0:06.
The half time stats showed that Grangemockler’s excellent kick-out strategy saw them retain 78% of their own kick-out and by pushing up on the opposition and forcing them long, they had managed to win 50% of the Rockwell kick-out. Rockwell on the other hand were gaining most of their possession from turnovers and were using that possession more economically than their opponents. They were now in a happy position. They led by 3 and would have the wind in the second half.
TJ Ryan extended their lead in the 35th minute and then 3 minutes later, in an almost identical play to which we saw in the first half, Gavin Ryan, with William Tell like accuracy, found Alan Moloney and Moloney calmly slotted to the net.
2.07 to 0.06 and one felt that the stage was set for Rockwell to moonwalk to the finish. Grangemockler may be a young team but what they lack in experience they make up for in talent and honesty. Mark O’Meara pointed his second of the day from out in the countryside while Rockwell keeper, Michael O’Donnell, again had to be on his toes to keep a Sean Daly shot from hitting the net.
The first minute after the water-break decided the outcome of this game once and for all.
John Lyons was appealing to the Court of Human Rights that he was entitled to a penalty for a foul he claimed took place inside the box. Rockwell lodged a counter appeal claiming that Lyons had picked the ball off the ground and therefore they should be awarded a free out. Referee Philip Kelly settled the case on the steps of the 13m line and awarded Lyons the lesser amount of free in. Lyons accepted the decision and tapped over the free.
Grangemockler got their hands on the kick-out and a brilliant move involving Manus McFadden and Thomas Dineen released John Lyons but his low shot went millimeters wide of the keeper’s left-hand post.
You immediately felt that was that for Grangemockler and so it was. From here to the finish Rockwell were comfortable. They were happy to sit back, soak up the pressure and hit on the counter. It was a tactic they executed brilliantly and which saw them add two late points from Alan Moloney and TJ Ryan. They could even afford to miss a late penalty before Philip Kelly signaled full stop with the scoreline at 2.10 to 0.09.
And so Rockwell Rovers are back in the senior football ranks for the first time since 1992. Their victory last Saturday is all the sweeter because of that long absence and performers like sublime Alan Moloney, the magnificent Liam Fahey, hardworking midfielders such as Aidan Barron and Eoin Shine plus forwards like Eoin Byrne plus TJ and Gavin Ryan, will all be welcome additions to senior football in Tipperary next year.
A delighted and emotional 'Player of the match' Alan Moloney of @RockwellRovers speaks to @StephenGleeson_ at the full time whistle as they are crowned county champions! #GAA #Football pic.twitter.com/jQhmS2qKe9
— Tipp FM Sport (@TippFMSport) September 19, 2020
posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Thu Sep 17, 2020
posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Sun Sep 13, 2020
The County Senior Football semi-final between Loughmore/Castleiney and Moyle Rovers promised to be a classic and all week I had looked forward to it like a small boy looks forward to going to U6 training.
I wasn’t disappointed.
Loughmore were forced to make a late change when Lorcan Egan’s engine light came on in the warm-up. Willie Eviston proved to be a reliable replacement vehicle. They won the toss and opted to play with a wind that was breathing rather heavily towards the parochial house in Boherlahan.
Ciaran Connolly had a Loughmore point in the opening sentence before Rain Quigley opened the Rovers account quickly followed by a fine solo effort from Liam Boland.
Unlike last weeks semi-final, both teams had come to play and the texture of the game was open free-flowing football sprinkled with touches of imagination mostly provided by Noel and John McGrath:
With Liam McGrath on his travels, many, including myself, thought Loughmore would miss his scoring ability but corner forwards Conor Ryan and Conor McGrath are proving to be as good a combination as mushy peas and salty chips. They came into this game with 4:22 scored between them and they added another 11 points to that tally yesterday.
In the modern game of Gaelic football, possession is king. Moyle Rovers won enough possession but wasted most of it. By the time the first water break arrived Loughmore had turned them over 8 times and led 0:05 to 0:02.
They extended that lead shortly after the restart when Noel McGrath channeled his inner Lionel Messi to provide the pass of the season to Conor Ryan.
Stephen Quirke and Liam Boland reduced the deficit as Rovers began to find their rhythm.
I met a Loughmore man during the week who filled me in on the Ryan family tree. What he failed to mention was that they are obviously direct descendants of William Tell as first Conor and then cornerback Eoghan popped over points to extend the lead back to 4. Conor McGrath made it 0:09 to 0:04 as we entered the final few minutes of an intriguing first half.
Rovers eventually came to terms with the Loughmore kick-out leading to points from Boland and Fitzgerald before the big talking point (or talking goal if you like) arrived in abnormal time at the end of the half. A Rian Quigley effort came back off the crossbar and as the foot race for the rebound began referee Derek O’Mahony spotted a John Ryan nudge into the back of Shane Foley and spread his arms to indicate a penalty for Moyle Rovers. Liam Boland dispatched to the front of the net for the last action of the half and send the sides in level at 09 to 1:06.
If there had been a crowd at the game both teams would have left to tremendous applause. Hopefully, the restrictions on supporters attending games will be lifted by the time the County Final is played in two weeks.
By now I’m sure most readers are wondering who was with Chicken Licken when he met Foxy Loxy but while you contemplate that, I can tell you that in the stand we wondered aloud if subconsciously the thoughts of next weekends County Hurling Final would enter Loughmore heads. The consensus was that if Moyle Rovers could start the second half well, then with the aid of the wind, they could moonwalk to victory.
No doubt Rovers thought the same. Liam Boland slotted a free in the 2nd minute before Stephen Quirke tried to lob the onrushing Shane Hennessy but his effort went just over the bar to put Rovers 2 up.
But when the chips are down, Loughmore always seem to arrive with the salt and vinegar. Conor Ryan replied with 3 in a row before John McGrath provided the finishing touch to a speculative Ciaran Connolly effort.
From here to the end, Loughmore outworked, out-thought and outplayed Moyle Rovers. By the time the second water break arrived, they had turned Rovers over 17 times and led by 3. By the end of the game, they had managed to turn Rovers over 27 times notching up 10 points within 40 seconds of those turnovers. It’s an impressive tally by any standards.
Rovers were living on scraps. They managed just 6 shots at goal in the 2nd half when playing with the wind. To their credit, they scored from 5 of those shots and somehow found themselves just a point down with 3 minutes to play.
However, their tactic of trying to hit Stephen Quirke early and often backfired. They tried to hit him too early and too often. It was a crude tactic when a more measured approach may have produced better results. You don’t always need to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
Substitute Liam Treacy, who has spent much of the year in the repair shop, announced to his manager, that he is back in working order with a fine point before Conor Ryan and Evan Sweeney finished off the scoring to leave the final score 0:18 to 1:11.
And so the battleship Loughmore sails on with its first port of call the County Senior Hurling Final next Sunday before dropping anchor for its final destination of the year, and a meeting with old rivals Clonmel Commercials in the County Senior Football Final.
It promises to be one of the most exciting finals in years. Over the next two weeks, you may meet people who will try to convince you they can call the result. Those people have reached the Everest of self-deception and are best ignored.posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Mon Sep 07, 2020
After a swashbuckling display in the last round, playing some of the most attractive football I’ve witnessed in Tipperary in a long long time, it was disappointing to see that Kilsheelan didn’t arrive for this semi-final in a creative mood.
You could be forgiven from thinking that, in the period between their last game and this game, the Kilsheelan management had fallen in love with the Northern style of football and fallen rather blindly in love at that.
To beat Commercials, you have to take chances and perform without a safety net.
Despite Kilsheelan having plenty of possession, most of it was in their own half and with their half-forward line withdrawn, they had no obvious out-ball to launch attacks. Too much of their play was over and back across the field rather than going forward.
Commercials weren’t much better in this regard. This was as bad as I’ve seen them play in the last 10 years. They will of course tell you that semi-finals are just about winning and getting to the final but deep down they will know that a repeat of this kind of performance won’t do against either Loughmore or Moyle Rovers in that final.
Their passing lacked its usual smoothness, their tackling was lazy rather than decisive and when some of their forwards weren’t hiding in plain sight they were running down cul de sacs and blind alleys. At the other end, their kick-out return of only winning 53% of their own kick-out is unlikely to be good enough to get you over the line in a county final.
Evan Comerford twice gave Kilsheelan an early lead with two well-struck frees but a Jason Lonergan free and a lovely point on the turn from Michael Quinlivan saw the sides level after 10 minutes.
On 13 minutes, the lion-hearted Daire Brennan was sent to the naughty step for a foot trip on Jack Kennedy. It looked accidental from my vantage point but Seanie Peters was close to the action and deemed it worthy of a 10-minute break. By the time he returned, Commercials had added 2 further points through a Jason Lonergan free and a fine left-footed effort from Padraic Looram to leave the score at 4 points to 2 after 23 minutes.
Two minutes later, Kilsheelan revealed their true selves. Aidan Keane, Mark Kehoe and Brendan Martin were all involved in a free-flowing move that ended with Paul Maher putting over the score of the half but Sean O’Connor replied with a point that should have been a goal before Seamus Kennedy brought the poor first half to a close with a trademark long-range effort to leave the half time score 0:06 to 0:03.
My hope for the next 30 minutes was that the half time team talks would produce an outbreak of football but of course, it’s the hope that kills you.
Commercials assumed control from the throw-in and had this game put to bed within 10 minutes of the restart. A Jason Lonergan free and 3 in a row from Colman Kennedy, each one better than the one that preceded it, meant that Commercials could now moonwalk to the finish.
With the game in the bag, it was hard to stay focused on this game and my mind began to wonder if the London Metropolitan Police had ever recovered that stolen cup back in 1954. My thoughts were interrupted by Michael Quinlivan being sentenced to ten minutes of solitary confinement for an awkward tackle on Mark Kehoe.
Colman Kennedy could have added a goal but his close-range effort was brilliantly stopped by Comerford. Then, like the wine at the wedding in Cana, Colman saved the best till last with an outrageous point from out near the sideline on what you would say was the wrong side of the field for a left-footed kicker.
Finally, Seanie Peters blew the whistle and told us all to go home with Commercials winning on a final score of 0.12 to 0.06. Maybe it was the off the field friendships between the players of Kilsheelan and Commercials that contributed to the lack of real edge in this game but whatever the reason Charlie McGeever and his management team have much to ponder over the next couple of weeks.
posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Tue Sep 01, 2020
8 12 16 27 50 7, 8
13 26 39 2 15 3, 9
3 19 22 27 44 7, 9
3 5 6 7 50 4, 11
1 5 15 18 2 7, 8
10 16 26 33 37 3, 8
12 18 30 39 48 6,7
4 9 11 16 25 5, 11
8 10 19 23 28 1, 12
2 3 9 17 28 5, 7
2 12 26 34 46 5, 9
10 22 28 33 45 4, 6
2 7 25 26 50 7, 9
7 21 36 48 3 3, 7
2 9 11 15 19 8, 9posted by Friends of Tipperary FootballFriends of Tipperary Football on Tue Aug 25, 2020
Two minutes and twenty-three seconds after Paddy Russell threw in the ball, Conor McGrath put those silly thoughts out of our heads when he found the front of the net from close range following a super run and pass from John McGrath.
From that moment on, the writing was on the pitch for Ardfinnan.
The dogs in the alleyways and the cats on the street know that Loughmore/Castleiney will work hard. I have often argued that while that is true, it is unfair on their players to just label them as modern-day Matt the Treshers, who, like Matt in Knocknagow, are just doing it for the ‘pride of the parish”. For example, the clock in John McGrath’s brain is set two seconds faster than the clock given to the rest of us, giving him ample time to weigh up situations and make a decision before everyone else. Loughmore/Castleiney’s play yesterday was intelligent and precise. Throw the hard work into the mix, and you could see why Ardfinnan were confined to just the occasional foray up the field.
To be fair, in those breakouts, Ardfinnan did look dangerous. Billy Hewitt, Gerry Cronin and Colin O’Gorman swapped points with Conor Ryan (2) and Aidan McGrath before some sloppy defending allowed Joey Nyland to squeeze through a gap and prod the ball to the corner of the net extending the Loughmore lead at the water break to 2.03 to 0.03.
The Ardfinnan ship was now holed below the waterline and flooding quickly.
On 23 minutes a strong Eamonn Connolly, who covered more ground than Phil Hogan in quarantine, ran straight through the defence and although his goal-bound effort was blocked, Conor McGrath was on hand to tap in his second goal of the day. Aidan McGrath then added his second point of the day from 35 yards before two late Michael Barlow frees brought Act 1 to a close on a score-line of 3.04 to 0.05
With the contest now reduced to a sparring match, the Ardfinnan people in attendance had the mobile phones out checking the updates coming from the Ballyporeen v Moyle Templetouhy game down the road in Cashel. The score-line there meant that unless Ardfinnan mounted some sort of a revival, there was a possibility they could be in danger of getting dragged into the relegation battle.
That possibility became a reality in the 51stMinute when Conor McGrath netted his hat-trick and in doing so surely broke some kind of record as the combined distance of his three goals was a total of no more than one yard. As he showed when he was introduced in the last round v Moyne/Templetouhy, Conor has a habit of being in the right place and the right time and that doesn’t happen by accident. He is proving himself to be a great addition to the Loughmore/Castleiney line up this year.
Ardfinnan had to wait until the 59th minute to register their first score of the second half when Billy Hewitt popped over a fine point and Michael Barlow completed their tally for the day with a free in broken time before Peter Nyland popped over a point to leave the final score 4:11 to 0:07. It was a score that would prove costly to Ardfinnan
When Paddy Russell signaled full stop the Ardfinnan mobile phones switched from the Twitter App to the Calculator App. Ballyporeen had won 1.14 to 1.09 leaving them on 2 points and a score difference of -10. Moyne/Templetouhy finished on 2 points and a score difference of -11 while Ardfinnan also finished on 2 points but with a score difference of -12. Sky Sports would have loved the drama.
Ardfinnan play a two-man full-forward line which requires the ball to get into that line before the opposition defenders. All too often they insisted on hand passing lateral across the field which allowed the hard-working Loughmore to get back and erect the wall.
They did however show flashes that suggest they are “too good to go down” but as we well know anything can happen in these relegation battles.
The story of the stats was Loughmore won 64% of their own kick-out while Ardfinnan 73% of theirs. I always say that scoreboard aside, the turnovers stat is the most important and gives a good indication of who will win the game and you won’t be surprised to read that Loughmore turned over Ardfinnan on 22 occasions compared to Ardfinnan turning over Loughmore just 12 times.
This was a polished performance from Loughmore without ever having to spend too much energy and sets them up nicely for a crack at both the hurling and football over the next couple of weeks.
Loughmore Castleiney v Moyle Rovers
Kilsheelan K v Clonmel Commercials
Aherlow V Ardfinnan
Éire Óg Annacarty V Galtee Rovers
Rockwell Rovers v Moyle Rovers
Fethard v Grangemockler Ballyneale
Cashel King Cormacs V losers of Golden/Kilfeacle V Fr. Sheehys
Kiladangan V Borrisokane.