Pike Rovers were crowned Munster Junior Cup champions for the fifth time in their illustrious history when they beat Clonmel Celtic 2-1 in a highly entertaining encounter in Tipperary on Sunday afternoon.
It’s six years since the Hoops last success and it completes the Munster double having won the Munster Champions Cup earlier in the season.
It was a well deserved win for the Limerick side but failure to put away their chances could have cost them and indeed but for a penalty save by Gary Neville in the second half we may have had a different outcome.
All the goals were scored in a five minute period at the end of the first half but the large crowd were kept on their toes until the final whistle.
Pike had a determination about them that was evident from the first minute. Scorer of both Pike goals, Pat Moloney, won the man of the match award and his work rate was unrivalled.
Keith Harnett surely pushed his team mate for the award with a superb 90 minutes in the heart of the midfield.
In central defence the pairing of Pat Mullins and Wayne Colbert with little or nothing getting past them.
Clonmel rarely reached the heights they did in earlier rounds, partly because Pike did not let them settle and also the occasion seemed to get to a few of their players.
Right from the centre off Pike looked focused and should have opened the scoring on two minutes when Eoin Hanrahan crossed to John Tierney but the Pike midfielder volleyed wide of the goal.
Two minutes later Jason Heffernan received the ball unmarked 20 yards out but his low shot struck the butt of the post before being cleared to safety.
On 15 minutes Pat Moloney gathered in his own defensive line to put Eddie O’Donovan clear and his ball across goal looked like it may reach the inrunning Alan Barry when Simon Scully’s sliding intervention put the ball out for a corner from which Harnett forced a smart save from Richie Ryan in the Celtic goal.
Scully again got a vital block to deny Alan Barry from close range before Andrew Cosgrove had Celtic’s first effort, over the top, on 30 minutes.
Eddie O’Donovan gathered the ball in defence on 38 minutes and the opposition backed off as the left full ran unhindered to the edge of the Celtic box and unleashed a rasper that skimmed the outside of the crossbar.
Five minutes from the break Clonmel were awarded a free kick and Graham Doyle delivered into the danger zone. Gary Neville raced from his goal but his clearance struck Craig Condon and bounced agonisingly over the line with a host of defenders trying to keep it out.
Pike response was swift. Three minutes later John Tierney gathered on half way and a superb through ball put Pat Moloney clear and he kept his composure to slip the ball past the advancing Ryan to level the tie.
It got even better a minute later when Gavin O’Shea delivered a free kick to the back post; Harnett headed back across goal where Alan Barry knocked into the path of Moloney who rifled home from close range.
Just after the restart Jason Heffernan had a shot blocked with the keeper out of position and on 53 minutes the home side had a great chance to level.
A free kick curled in by the impressive Doyle struck the hand of a Pike player and the Referee pointed to the spot. Simon Scully stepped up but a brilliant save by Gary Neville turned the ball away to safety.
The miss seemed to knock the stuffin out of Celtic and Alan Barry shot and turn minutes later could have made things worse but Ryan got down well to save.
With 15 minutes remaining Sean O’Hara headed back across the Pike area where Condon’s shot was blocked by the alert Colbert and at the other end Moloney’s lay off saw Hanrahan drill a shot just wide of goal.
Pike should have wrapped it up when Moloney put sub John Okoro clear of the pack but Ryan was out quickly to get a block in.
Celtic’s last chance came five minutes from the end when another Doyle delivery picked out Stephen Ryan at the back post but his ball across goal failed to get the required touch.
Thereafter Pike frustrated the opposition by keeping possession of the ball to see out the game.
It was a memorable week for Pike manager Declan Considine who was also appointed an FAI Development officer for Limerick.
CLONMEL CELTIC - Richie Ryan, Darren Burns, Graham Doyle, Craig Condon, Simon Scully, John Cagney, Kevin Waters, Andrew Cosgrave, Sean O’Hara, David Joyce, Paul Kennedy, Reserves, Brian Waters, Stephen Ryan
PIKE ROVERS - Gary Neville; Gavin O’Shea; Eddie O’Donovan; Wayne Colbert; Pat Mullins; Jason Heffernan; Keith Hartnett; John Tierney; Eoin Hanrahan; Pat Moloney; Alan Barry. Subs: John Okoro; Paul Doona; Dave Ryan
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.