SFL Div 5 Semi-Final: Clonmore 2-10 MLR 3-7

November 8, 2018

This Division 5 semi-final in Fenagh TC on Friday evening was an entertaining and competitive game between two well matched teams and 67 minutes of football could not separate them. Played in balmy conditions, there was excitement from start to finish with numerous twists and turns along the way.

MLR started strongly but squandered a few chances and had to watch as  Clonmore scored in their first attack with wily veteran John McGrath striking a beauty off the outside of his right foot from a tricky angle. Further Clonmore points followed from Alan Humphries and Owen Coleman before Ranger's got off the mark with a free from Derek Byrne. The ever reliable Gavin Byrne (2 frees) and Clive Lambe scored points for Clonmore before Byrne scored again for Rangers to leave the half-time score 0-6 to 0-2. A feature of the first half was Clonmore's dogged defending as they tackled and blocked with great  intensity.

True to their battling tradition, Rangers came out all guns blazing in the second half and, within two minutes of the re-start, had levelled the scores  with a great goal from Rory Joyce and another point from the accurate  Derek Byrne. Clonmore responded immediately with a wonder point from Sean Deay who soloed the length of the field and scored from distance with his left foot.  Anything Deay could do, Owen Coleman could do better and, cutting in from the right, he unleashed a rocket to the far corner of the MLR net – 1-7 to 1-3 on 36 minutes.

By 41 minutes, Clonmore had extended their lead to 8 points (2-8 to 1-3) with another point from Gavin Byrne and a goal from Alan Humphries after he intercepted a Rangers kick-out. Still MLR would not lie down and they launched attack after attack. They got a bit of luck on 50 minutes when Derek Byrne's attempt to fist a point hit the crossbar and the rebound was smashed to the net by an inrushing forward – 2-9 to 2-6. With the hard ground taking it's toll on players, there was a number of injury stoppages and Clonmore lost the influential Sean Deay on 50 minutes.

In a last throw of the dice, Rangers pushed Rory Joyce into the full forward line and it paid immediate dividends as Joyce used his powerful left foot to score 1-1 in the space of five minutes to put MLR a point ahead with normal time just up – 3-7 to 2-9. 

It would have been an injustice for Clonmore to lose this game and they drove forward again in search of an equaliser. Fittingly, it was one of their talented youngsters, Sean Tompkins, who went on a run from corner back and cooly slotted over the equaliser. After seven minutes of injury time, Referee Martin Murphy blew up for the end of a rip-roaring contest and there was relief all round that there was no extra time as the heat and hard ground had really taken it out of the players.

Clonmore GFC would like to wish Ger 'Heidi' Doyle a speedy recovery from a painful rib injury received early in the game.

Team: Jason Fitzharris, Clive Lambe (0-1), John Kelly, Matt Cullen, Sean Tompkins (0-1),  Sean Deay (0-1), Rory McKernan, Gavin Byrne (0-3,3f), Alan Humphries (1-1), Pauric Lawlor, John McGrath (0-1), Jamie Walsh, JP Doyle, Owen Coleman (1-2), Ger Doyle.

Subs: Kevin McCarney for Ger Doyle (inj, 10mins), John Connolly for Sean Deay (inj, 50mins), Luke Mullen for Alan Humphries (inj, 54mins), Con Cashen for Clive Lambe (inj, 56 mins), Dan Cashen for JP Doyle (inj, 58 mins). Ref: Martin Murphy (Tinryland).

PHOTO: Sean Tompkins scored the equalising point for the Juniors against MLR.