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13 Aug 2022

Tullamore through to semi-finals as Ferbane rue missed chances in compelling, fractious showdown

Tullamore through to quarter-finals as Ferbane rue missed chances in compelling, fractious showdown

Tullamore's Declan Hogan and Ferbane's Darragh Flynn.

TULLAMORE qualified for the semi-finals of the Tullamore Court Hotel Senior Football Championship after edging out Ferbane in a compelling, fractious shootout in Ballycumber on Saturday afternoon - with four points from two games, they can't be caught as group winners.

Tullamore Court Hotel Senior Football Championship Group 1

 Tullamore 1-9

Ferbane 1-7

The champions had to come through a teak tough battle and they had to show real character to win a game where Ferbane asked the most serious of questions of them. Tullamore finished the game with thirteen men with Paul McConway getting a black card with 52 minutes gone and then Ciaran Egan shown a straight red in the 59th minute. Egan got his red for something he said to referee Chris Dwyer as he contested a sideline ball decision that went against him and he will miss the final group game against Cappincur unless it is rescinded - Tullamore are into the semi-final irrespective of the result there.

It was a messy, disjointed type of game but it also made tremendous viewing as it went right down to the wire. It was a very physical game with a lot of hard hitting, plenty of verbals and a lot of decisions contested with the referee by players. It was low scoring with scores at a premium and every one of them were hard earned.

Yet it was by no means a bad game. It was not one for the purists but it was fiercely fought, so human. Neither side held anything back and they were completely honest in the way they fought for everything. Ferbane set out their stall from the throw in as they rattled into Tullamore with everything they had – they clearly went out with the intention of tearing into Tullamore, ruffling their feathers. Ferbane were very highly motivated and it shook Tullamore for a few minutes but they are no shrinking violets when it comes to that type of football. Tullamore have plenty of players well able for physicality and they stood up to be counted.

It was absolutely gripping and Ferbane will feel that they should have got at least a share of the spoils. They had ample possession and sufficient chances in the second half but really kicked it away. They had just five wides but that only touches on the story as they dropped another few balls short into Corey White's hands. They underhit easy chances – Cian Johnson dropped one free into White's hands, Shane Nally hit the post from one not far from being straight in front of the posts and Johnson dropped another chance short.

Ferbane managed only three points in the second half and that was nowhere near good enough. Two of those came when Tullamore were down men late on and one of them was a fluke, a ball in from the sideline that Paddy Clancy may have got a hand to. It all leaves Ferbane on very icy ground – they have just a point from their first game against Cappincur and now need to beat Shamrocks to be certain of progressing.

You have to admire the way Ferbane absolutely emptied the tank here but they are not playing well at the moment, with serious questions about their prospects. They could get good if they get into the quarter-finals, which they are likely to but they have considerable improving to do.

This was a big, important win for Tullamore. It was a real test and plenty of things went wrong for them on the day but they passed it. They remain the title favourites, even with Luke Egan joining their growing injured list – Egan did not start here as he got a flake fracture recently. He was in Ballycumber with a heavy cast on his leg but should be back within three weeks to a month.

Tullamore found it hard to get going in the first half. It took them a while to adapt to Ferbane's physicality and they made a lot of errors. They were turned over a lot, carrying the ball into tackles and making unforced errors at times.

It was all very uncharacteristic of them, even though they led by 0-2 to 0-1 after eight minutes. Ferbane found a head of steam as Tullamore got a bit frustrated. They got 1-2 without reply with the goal coming from Cian Johnson after Joe Maher set him up in the 12th minute. They led by 1-3 to 0-2 after sixteen minutes but Tullamore steadied the ship in the second quarter.

They got a crucial goal just before half time with Diarmuid Egan showing tremendous bravery to punch a Harry Plunkett cross ball to the net in the 27th minute. It was never Egan's ball but he didn't think of his own safety as he went for it, hitting the ground like a tonne of bricks and that levelled it up at half time, 1-4 each.

Tullamore always looked like winning it in the second half. They reduced their errors, moved the ball quicker and were much more efficient, even if scores from play was a problem. Harry Plunkett got two frees and Johnny Moloney fired over a “45” as they led by three after 44 minutes. Ferbane got off the mark a couple of minutes later with a Joe Maher point after Kevin O'Brien gave it away – the normally rock steady O'Brien had a couple of those moments over the hour.

Ferbane piled forward but missed too much and Tullamore went back three clear with a fantastic Moloney point in the 51st minute. Luke Bourke made it a four point game four minutes from time and Ferbane now needed a goal. They pushed hard but were relying on a break from a high ball in and two closing points could not rescue them.

When they were men down and hanging on to what they had, Tullamore showed their vast experience. Corey White had encountered problems with his kickouts and clearances in the first half but he slowed things down at the right time for them as well as dealing with dangerous ball late on. Johnny Moloney was brilliant and on a day when some of Tullamore's young guns got a shock to their system and found it tough, their experienced players got them home.

Paul McConway, before his black card, Declan Hogan and Michael Brazil, even when he was out on his feet late on, were immense while Aaron Leavy put in a great shift at midfield, Diarmuid Egan worked hard on a very tough opponent in Leon Fox and Daire McDaid carried a lot of good vall forward.

Leon Fox had an excellent game for Ferbane driving them on. Conor Butler and David Nally also impressed in their defence while Bernard Corcoran did a lot of good things in midfield and Kieran McManus worked hard. Ferbane were in trouble from here up. Joe Maher threatened to win the game for them at times, Cathal Flynn tried to rally them late on, carrying good ball but overall, Ferbane just could not break down the Tullamore defence.


MATCH ANALYSIS


MAN OF THE MATCH

Johnny Moloney (Tullamore): Johnny Moloney was brilliant, leading by example and driving everyone on. He picked up a yellow card in the first minute which meant he had to thread very softly. Moloney had held onto the ball when a free was awarded against him to Joe Maher – it was a questionable decision as Maher appeared to have been the man doing the fouling but Moloney showed great discipline afterwards on a day when he would love to be putting in heavy hits and getting into the middle of everything. He did give away a small bit of ball but he was tremendous when Tullamore were down men and he was the single biggest factor in their win.

THE SCORERS

Tullamore: Harry Plunkett 0-4 (4f), Diarmuid Egan 1-0, Johnny Moloney 0-2 (1 '45'), Michael Brazil, Nigel Bracken, Luke Bourke 0-1 each.

Ferbane: Joe Maher 0-4 (1f), Cian Johnson 1-1, David Nally and Paddy Clancy 0-1 each.


THE TEAMS

TULLAMORE: Corey White; Ciaran Burns, Declan Hogan, Paul McConway; Kevin O'Brien,Johnny Moloney, Daire McDaid; Michael Brazil,Aaron Leavy; Ciaran Egan, Diarmuid Egan, Nigel Bracken; Dan Fox, Luke Plunkett, Harry Plunkett. Subs – Luke Bourke for Fox (41m).

FERBANE: Adam Nugent; Michael Wren, Conor Butler, Stephen Wren; Kevin Nugent, Leon Fox, David Nally; Bernard Corcoran , Kieran McManus; Paddy Clancy, Shane Nally, Cathal Flynn; Cian Johnson, Joe Maher, Darragh Flynn. Subs – Jack Clancy for Darragh Flynn (49m).

Referee – Chris Dwyer (Clara).


REFEREE WATCH

It was a tough game for Chris Dwyer to referee and he was on the verge of losing control late on. There were a few talking points and debatable decisions but overall, he did well to keep a handle on it. It was a very physical game and he tried to let it run. He dished out cards and he talked to players, explaining what they had done. Paul McConway did pull down Joe Maher and it was a black card. Ciaran Egan was sent off for something he said. Normally, a black card would cover that but he had continued to argue over a line ball as he went back into defence and Dwyer decided he had to get red. It was one of those games where neither side was happy with the referee but he was certainly fair in the way he refereed and decisions balanced out. He consulted well with officials and having an ear piece link with linesman Eamon O'Connor was a big help.


MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Johnny Moloney's brilliant 51st minute point showed Tullamore at their best. They carried the ball out of defence at full speed with Michael Brazil and Diarmuid Egan moving it forward and Moloney curled over a beaut with his left foot. It came just after Cian Johnson had underhit a straightforward free and it was a huge turning point – instead of being a one point game, it was a three point one and Tullamore had the margin to get home as they lost McConway and Egan late on.


VENUE OF THE MATCH

Once a regular venue for senior football games, this was Ballycumber's biggest fixture in nearly a decade. They left no stone unturned to ensure that their venue was in tip top shape. They carried out huge work during the week and their pitch was in fantastic condition – the rain on Saturday did it no harm at all and fortunately Sunday was mainly dry and sunny. Ballycumber had plenty of stewards and they coped admirably with the large crowd. Both teams cleaned up their own dressing rooms afterwards and that was great to see.


TALKING POINT

Tullamore haven't retained the championship since 1926. That history suggests they won't do it this year but they are moving well, playing very steadily and they will take beating.


WHAT'S NEXT

Tullamore play Cappincur while Ferbane have Shamrocks.


STATISTICS

Wides: Tullamore – 5 (3 in first half); Ferbane – 12 (7 in first half).

Yellow cards: Tullamore – 3 (Johnny Moloney, Michael Brazil, Luke Plunkett); Ferbane – 2 (Conor Butler, Leon Fox).

Black cards: Tullamore – 1 (Paul McConway); Ferbane – 0.

Red cards: Tullamore – 1 (Ciaran Egan), Ferbane – 0.

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