Cathal Deely, Clonmel Commercials, and Eoin Hurley, Newcastle West, in AIB Munster Club SFC action.
Cathal Deely, Clonmel Commercials, and Eoin Hurley, Newcastle West, in AIB Munster Club SFC action.

AIB Munster Club SFC: Gritty Newcastle West triumph

AIB Munster Club SFC Semi-Final

Newcastle West 1-16 Clonmel Commercials 1-11 AET

By Eamonn Wynne at FBD Semple Stadium

The season of upsets in the AIB Munster Club Senior Football Championship continued at FBD Semple Stadium this afternoon when Newcastle West beat championship favourites Clonmel Commercials after extra time in a dramatic semi-final.

Commercials had sprung a surprise on Nemo Rangers in the quarter-final a fortnight ago but this time they were on the receiving end of a shock result, as Newcastle West reached their first provincial final in 35 years.

The teams were deadlocked at 1-10 to 0-13 at the end of normal time, and after Eoin Hurley’s point from a mark had edged Newcastle West ahead, the crucial score of the game arrived towards the end of the first period of extra time when Emmet Rigter found the net to put the Limerick side ahead by 1-14 to 0-10 at half-time in extra time.

Eoin Hurley extended Newcastle West’s lead in the 71st minute before Commercials received their third black card of the afternoon when Tadhg Condon was sent to the line, after Kevin Fahey and Ciaran Cannon had been similarly sanctioned towards the end of normal time.

The Clonmel team pushed to the very end, and Peter McGarry had an effort deflected by Newcastle West goalie Michael Quilligan in the 78th minute. McGarry went close again shortly afterwards when he punched wide, but by then his team’s faltering hopes had all but disappeared.

Normal time had ended in a thrilling finale, with each side looking to have done enough to secure the victory at different stages.

Emmet Rigter put Newcastle West ahead by a point with five minutes remaining, but Commercials’ response was impressive. Michael Quinlivan scored a great solo point with a minute left on the clock, and when Kevin Fahey found the target in the first of five minutes of additional time Commercials were back in front.

That meant the 2015 winners were within touching distance of a place in their seventh final. But Newcastle West had one final kick left in them. As the heart-stopping drama continued, Ruadhan O’Connor supplied the equaliser with the last kick deep into added time.

Commercials played for most of the first period of extra time with just 13 players, after Kevin Fahey and Ciaran Cannon received black cards towards the conclusion of normal time, and Newcastle West availed of the numerical advantage to regain the lead when Eoin Hurley scored from a mark in the 65th minute.

Fahey and Cannon returned for Commercials near the end of the first period but Newcastle West opened up a four-point lead in added time when a quick break enabled Emmet Rigter to steer a low shot to the net to leave them ahead by 1-14 to 1-10 at half time in extra time.

After that, Newcastle West never looked like being beaten.

From the early moments this game had developed into an arm wrestle, with each team getting plenty of bodies behind the ball whenever the other was in possession.

The sides traded early points through Newcastle West captain Iain Corbett and Eoin Hurley (free) and Commercials’ Jason Lonergan and Sean O’Connor to leave the scores tied at 0-2 each after 14 minutes.

The next phase of the game was dominated by the Limerick champions, whose dogged defensive work prevented Commercials from slipping into their elegant stride.

A series of unforced errors and poor wides didn’t do the home side any favours either. By contrast, Newcastle West’s more direct style paid handsome dividends, with scores from Diarmaid Kelly (free), Cian Sheehan and Diarmaid Kelly again, this time from play, opening up a three-point gap, 0-5 to 0-2, by the 29th minute.

However, the course of the game was completely altered before the half-time whistle, with the Clonmel team striking 1-2 in the space of two minutes to regain the lead for the first time since the sixth minute. Sean O’Connor scored the goal, with the points coming from Jack Kennedy (free) and O’Connor, and the Clonmel team led by 1-4 to 0-5 at the break.

S*corers for Newcastle West:* Eoin Hurley 0-6 (3fs, 1m), Emmet Rigter 1-1, Cian Sheehan 0-3, Diarmaid Kelly 0-3 (1f), Ruadhan O’Connor 0-1, Iain Corbett 0-1, Brian O’Sullivan 0-1.

S*corers for Clonmel Commercials:* Sean O’Connor 1-2, Jason Lonergan 0-3, (1f), Tadhg Condon 0-2 (2fs), Michael Quinlivan 0-2, Cathal Deely 0-1, Kevin Fahey 0-1.

Newcastle West**:** Michael Quilligan; Michael O’Keeffe, Darren O’Doherty, Brian O’Sullivan; Ruadhan O’Connor, James Kelly, Iain Corbett (captain); Emmet Rigter, Sean Murphy; Cian Sheehan, Shane Stack, Diarmaid Kelly; Todd O’Donovan, Mike McMahon, Eoin Hurley.

S*ubs*: Seamus Hurley for Todd O’Donovan (38), Aaron Neville for James Kelly (48), Thomas Quilligan for Shane Stack (56), Brian Hurley for Sean Murphy (60 +3), Steven Brosnan for Emmet Rigter (80), Brian Foley for Cian Sheehan (80+1).

Clonmel Commercials**:** Michael O’Reilly; James Morris, Seamus Kennedy, Jamie Peters (captain); Tadhg Condon, Kevin Fahey, Padraic Looram; Jack Kennedy, Michael Quinlivan; Conal Kennedy, Jason Lonergan, Cathal Deely; Colman Kennedy, Sean O’Connor, Ross Peters.

S*ubs*: Peter McGarry for Colman Kennedy (43), Aldo Matassa for Ross Peters (52), Ciaran Cannon for Jamie Peters (60), Cian Smith for Cathal Deely (60), Colman Kennedy for Cian Smith (70).

Referee: David Murnane (Cork).