Tinahely force replay
An Tochar 0-10, Tinahely 0-10: Tinahely had a poor start to this Junior B football championship semi-final at Arklow on Saturday but a great finish as they came from behind twice in the closing five minutes to earn a draw with an An Tochar in a nail biting finish.
Inspired by a sparking performance by their top scorer and sharpshooter Shay Cullen, the Roundwood men had led all the way and looked as if they were going to hold out and book a place in the final when they were two points clear entering the closing minutes.
However Tinahely kept their best wine until last with Damien Darcy, Damien Cullen with a brace and influential centre-forward Nicky Murphy all slotting over vital points to put this match to a replay.
But their opening was less secure, full of mistakes and wides and their forwards were all too easily blocked when attempting shots on goal.
An Tochar’s evergreen full-forward Fergal Mulligan landed the opening point for the Roundwood side after his marker failed to cut out a cross from the left, and three minutes later Shay Cullen scored the first of his seven points for the north district side.
Indeed Cullen was to find the mark twice more in the opening quarter before Nicky Murphy was to make the first deposit for Tinahely, converting a cross-field pass from Sean Maher into a point. Murphy and Damien Darcy tacked on two more Tinahely points before half time, leaving them in arrears by 0-3 to 0-5 at the break.
Twice in the first minute of the second half, An Tochar’s Fergal Mulligan had openings for goals but he blazed the first shot wide and the second time he shot was blocked after he was put through by substitute Conor Davis, who figured prominently after he was introduced.
The Roundwood men continued to dominate the opening ten minutes, however, and Shay Cullen (free) and corner-forward John Carr stretched their lead with points.
Slow responding Tinahely introduced fresh legs, bringing on Padraig Murphy and James Gilbert, and they narrowed the gap slightly by the end of the third quarter (0-3 to 0-8), as Paul Cullen and Nicky Murphy found the target.
Urged on by their mentors to stage a last stand, Tinahely stepped up the pressure on their opponents, making for the best phase of the game as well as a nail-biting finish.
Damien Cullen and Damien Darcy narrowed the gap to one point by the 51st minute - 0-7 to 0-9.
An Tochar’s Shay Cullen remained the best forward on view and he put two between the sides with seven minutes remaining on the clock.
Tinahely continued to lift their game and Damien Cullen and Sean Maher brought the sides level after 58 minutes - 0-9 each.
Moments later it looked as if substitute Brendan Kennedy had snatched the winner for An Tochar but Tinahely tails were up and they struck back immediately for a late deserved equaliser from Nicky Murphy.
Scorers for An Tochar were: Shay Cullen (0-7, four frees), Fergal Mulligan (0-1), John Carr (0-1), and Brendan Kennedy (0-1).
Tinahely scorers: Nicky Murphy (0-4), Damien Darcy (0-2), Damien Cullen (02), Paul Cullen (0-1), Sean Maher (0-1).
Tinahely: John Farrell, Darren Dunne, Anthony Byrne, Ronan Hedderman, Tony Leacy, Eamonn O’Byrne, Gavin Kenny, John Byrne, Mick Byrne, Sean Maher, Nicky Murphy, Conor Kenny, Damien Cullen, Damien Darcy, Paul Cullen. Subs: Padraig Murphy for J. Byrne, James Gilbert for P. Cullen, Tom Redmond for E. O’Byrne.
An Tochar: Liam Cullen, Nick Nolan, Gary McGillycuddy, Eoin Ryan, Oscar Long, James Dixon, Noel Power, Cormac Carthy, Paul Crowley, Noel Wolohan, Eddie Kavanagh, Shay Cullen, Joe Coleman, Fergal Mulligan, John Carr. Subs: Conor Davis for Paul Crowley, Ciaran Crowley for N. Wolohan, Paul Brady for E. Kavanagh, Brendan Kennedy for J. Carr.
Referee: Eugene O’Brien (Aughrim).