Claughaun and Pallasgreen must replay the Limerick IFC final after they drew 0-9 each in Bruff on Saturday.
All year long, nothing has separated the intermediate footballers of Claughaun and Pallasgreen. After the summer’s drawn group game, the grade’s two outstanding teams made their expected return to Saturday’s county final in Bruff where Tim Byrnes’s injury time free left them on level terms once again.
That fifth equaliser came after an hour that won’t be remembered as a classic. Perhaps that was to be expected as the backrooms got enough chances over the year to work on neutralising the opposition’s strengths and neither got the chance to reproduce their early season style.
But it sure was an absorbing contest between sides with formidable records of commitment. This time, they gave it everything and then some over a torrid hour that stretched Brendan Stack’s refereeing talents to the limit. Nor did it end with the final whistle after eight minutes added for stoppages, most of them for incidents off the ball. The testosterone mist hadn’t cleared as players and mentors squared up around the exit with supporters urging them on from the other side of the fence.
For most of the afternoon, Pallas looked as if they just might gain the edge. Composed at the back, they found a coolness in front of the posts at times in either half that allowed open a gap in a contest where scores were never going to come easy Claughaun, on the other hand, struggled to make primary possession count as they were harried into hurried delivery. However, they kept themselves in touch even when long shots were sailing between their posts and their persistence finally paid off when their finishers found their range just when the result was beginning to drift from their grasp.
Jamie McGarry’s fisted point in the opening minute was as far as the early entertainment went. Although Claughaun’s forwards showed better early focus, their supply choked once the Pallas half-backs pounced on the breaks around the middle, leading to Chris McMahon’s equalising free, Jonathan Deere giving his side the lead off and Kevin Barry stretching East Limerick’s side lead coming up to the break. Claughaun levelled through Tim Byrnes and Cian Byrnes’s ‘45’ before McMahon replied to give his team a lead of 0-4 to 0-3.
The Hoops got their break on the restart when Tim Byrnes collected a delivery in from the left but Denis O’Connor smothered the shot and tipped it over the crossbar. But Pallas goalie hit back with the next two attacks through McMahon and Robert O’Donnell and when another long hoof from Tony McMahon widened the gap to three, it looked as if they were on their way back to senior as McMahon replied to a Byrnes free.
Then a hailstorm released Claughaun from the scoring phobias and, within two minutes, Byrnes’s free and subs Shane Mullally and Emmet Harty had levelled before McMahon brought them back to earth with a free. Both sides had chances in the hectic closing minutes, Byrnes took one of them with an injury time free but neither could prevent the replay.
SCORERS - Pallasgreen: Chris McMahon 0-5 (2 frees), Jonathan Deere, Kevin Barry, Robert O’Donnell, Tony McMahon 0-1 each; Claughaun: Tim Byrnes 0-5 ((3 frees), Jamie McGarry, Cian Byrnes ( ‘45’), Shane Mullally, Emmet Harty 0-1 each.
PALLASGREEN - Denis O’Connor; Diarmuid Hayes, Wayne McCarthy, Kevin Dillon; Séamus Hayes, Lorcan O’Dwyer, Eddie Mulcahy; Tony McMahon, Jonathan Deere; Robert O’Donnell, Chris McMahon, Séamus Mulcahy; Kevin Barry, Aidan Shanahan, Alan Wallace. SUBS: Wille O’Dwyer for Diarmuid Hayes (35 mins), Trevor Cosgrave for Kevin Barry (35 mins), Owen Roche for Séamus Mulcahy (51 mins), Pa Hennessy for Alan Wallace (63 mins).
CLAUGHAUN - Tony McCarthy; Sam Mullins, Gareth Kennedy, Robbie Hannon; Pat McGarry, Jack Molyneaux, Philip Judge; Cian Byrnes, Tom O’Grady; Jamie McGarry, Aidan Healy, Gary O’Connor; Gary Bateman, Tim Byrnes, Jamie. SUBS: Shane Mullally for Gary O’Connor (inj 6 mins), Emmet Harty for Gary Bateman (half-time).
REFEREE - Brendan Stack (Newcastlewest).