Cormac Egan on the run for Tullamore.
A QUITE brilliant defensive performance laid a powerful foundation for champions Tullamore as they returned to another final showdown with Rhode after a fairly comfortable win over Edenderry in O'Connor Park.
Tullamore Court Hotel Senior Football Championship semi-final
While Edenderry were only three points behind inside the last ten minutes and anything was possible, this was a game that Tullamore never remotely looked like losing. They always looked to have another gear in them, they were generally in control and while they weren't at their very best, it was still a solid, decent display by them.
Tullamore will be favourites for the final against Rhode as they bid to win two in a row for the first time since 1926.
Tullamore looked like winning the whole way. Even in the first half when they were superb in defence but not clinical from midfield up, they always had the measure of Edenderry.
After a very nervy, tentative opening with it taking ten minutes for Cormac Egan to open the scoring, Tullamore led by 0-3 to 0-1 after 21 minutes, 0-5 to 0-2 after 24 and 0-6 to 0-3 at half time.
Edenderry were fighting hard but struggling to get any joy out of a very tight marking Tullamore defence.
From the start of the second half, Tullamore began to turn the screw. They should have got in for a goal after 33 minutes but Diarmuid Egan didn't deliver the final pass to the outstanding Luke Plunkett. Tullamore's inability to give that final ball kept the door open for Edenderry for longer than they would have liked and their ball retention in the opposing half was the one real flaw in their display
Their defence kept the Edenderry attack on sparse rations and Michael Brazil and Aaron Leavy were dominant at midfield but they were ununsually sloppy from here in – they gave away too much careless ball but from the minute Luke Plunkett put them four clear with a superb 34th minute point, it was clear that it was Tullamore's to lose.
Edenderry rallied briefly and got three of the next four points to bring the gap down to two with 42 minutes gone – Sean Doyle got that sixth point and he was the only Edenderry forward to really make hay on the day.
Tullamore response was superb. Luke Plunkett arrowed over another great point and Ciaran Burns got forward for a score to restore the four point gap within three minutes. Twice more Edenderry got the gap back to three points but Tullamore kept them at arm's length.
Diarmuid Egan's 42nd minute point put them back four in front. There was a controversial moment when the game might have turned with Edenderry trailing by four – Mark Abbott had the ball in hand in front of goal when referee Fergal Smyth blew for a questionable foul on Johnny Moloney
After that Tullamore went for the jugular. Declan Hogan got forward for an excellent point and Harry Plunkett put six in it with an excellent score with the outside of his right foot. By now Edenderry were a beaten docket, with heads dropping and their body language telling a tale.
Tullamore killed the game off with a fine 55th minute goal, just after Darragh Farrell had got an Edenderry point. Luke Plunkett did very well to break a long ball in and Diarmuid Egan finished very well an Tullamore were home and dry.
It was a very efficient, professional display by Tullamore. They had outstanding players all over the field with Declan Hogan, Michael Brazil and Luke Plunkett leading the way quite spectacularly. Ciaran Burns moved forward frequently, using the ball very well while Paul McConway, Aaron Leavy, Diarmuid Egan and Luke Egan also really impressed on a day when Tullamore were so steady.
It was a disappointing display by Edenderry. Lee Pearson kept a tight watch on the returning Cormac Egan and they tried hard without looking good enough to get the win. Jordan Hayes made a couple of searching runs from midfield and Alex Kenny had his moments up front but on the day, Edenderry were very much second best. Edenderry threw Cian Farrell into the fray seven minutes into the second half but with the Tullamore defence so good, it was a hard one for him to make his return from a cruciate lay off.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Declan Hogan (Tullamore): All the contenders were on the Tullamore side. Michael Brazil was magnificent at midfield and Luke Plunkett had arguably his best ever game in a Tullamore jersey – Plunkett's improvement this year is significant and his display was pivotal up front. Tullamore's defence, however, were a major factor in the win and Declan Hogan led the way. He was brilliant, blocking and tackling tenaciously, reading the game, using the ball well and getting forward for an unlikely point, curled over from distance.
Tullamore: Diarmuid Egan 1-2, Luke Plunkett (1m) and Harry Plunkett (1m and 1f) 0-3 each, Ciaran Burns, Declan Hogan, Johnny Moloney ('45'), Michael Brazil (f), Luke Egan and Cormac Egan 0-1 each.
Edenderry: Sean Doyle 0-3, Alex Kenny 0-2 (1f), Loughlin Walsh ('45'), Darragh Farrell, Rory Egan , Dan Lowry and David Hanlon 0-1 each.
TULLAMORE: Corey White; Paul McConway, Declan Hogan, Ciarán Burns; Daire McDaid, Johnny Moloney, Kevin O’Brien; Michael Brazil, Aaron Leavy; Nigel Bracken, Diarmuid Egan, Luke Egan; Harry Plunkett, Luke Plunkett, Cormac Egan. Subs: Ciaran Egan for McDaid (44m), Luke Bourke for Luke Egan (58m), Dan Fox for Diarmuid Egan (59m), Mike Fox for Cormac Egan (62m).
EDENDERRY: Loughlin Walsh; Eoin Dunne, Seán Pender, Lee Pearson; Darragh Farrell, Colm Byrne, Adam Mahon; Jordan Hayes, Rory Egan; Ciarán Farrell, Davin Hanlon, Mark Abbott; Alan Harte, Alex Kenny, Seán Doyle. Subs: Bobby Reynolds for Harte (34m), Cian Farrell for Ciaran Farrell (37m), Dan Lowry for Doyle (56m).
Referee – Fergal Smyth (Kilclonfert).
Fergal Smyth had another good game. He let play run and allowed for the slippery conditions in the first half. He was aware that linesman Chris Dwyer was calling him after Eoin Dunne went down after a clash with Michael Brazil early on but let play run. Unusually, it went for almost three minutes before there was a stoppage, he went back and talked to Dwyer before showing a yellow card to Brazil. Edenderry weren't happy at the free he gave Johnny Moloney when Mark Abbott was in on goal late on and it looked harsh but he was very well positioned to see it.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Luke Plunkett's superb point four minutes into the second half gave Tullamore a four point lead and Edenderry were chasing their tail from here on.
This was the fourth game in O'Connor Park in two days. There was a lot of rain on Sunday but it showed why it is the best pitch in the county.
The continued excellence of Tullamore and their bid to win two in a row for the first time since 1926.
Tullamore play Rhode in the final.
Wides: Tullamore – 5 (4 in first half); Edenderry – 5 (2 in first half).
Yellow cards: Tullamore – 2 (Aaron Leavy and Michael Brazil); Edenderry – 1 (Eoin Dunne).
Black cards: 0.
Red cards: 0.
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