Mulryan Construction IFC Final Replay
(Tulsk won 4-2 won on penalties after extra-time)
It’s sure to be a quiz question in years to come. This is the first adult championship in Roscommon to be settled by a penalty shootout. Tulsk proved victorious and have finally got their hands on the Jimmy Murray Cup as Intermediate Football champions for 2019 and will play senior football in 2020. That’s the bottom line, and no one would begrudge them the title after the heartbreak that have gone through in recent years.
However one can only have the greatest of sympathy for Oran, who matched Tulsk all the way to the bitter end only to finish empty handed again, and in such controversial fashion too.
In the opinion of this writer, this was a totally unsatisfactory way to settle an entire championship. It should have been decided on the field of play and the teams could have played again on Bank Holiday Monday, under the lights in Kiltoom during the week or even next weekend. If the Connacht IFC championship had to go back a week, so what? It’s terribly unfair and smacks of the authorities wanting to get club championships ’out of the way’ as quickly as possible. It’s not a swipe at Roscommon: it happened in Galway recently too and presumably it’s happening all over the country. The people who organise fixtures will have to sort it.
The match itself was played on a bitterly cold evening and despite the closeness of the scoring it was not as good a game as we had seen the week previously. Both sides had periods of dominance and just when it looked like one team would go ahead and win it the other team came back into it. There was also frustration in both camps at a number of controversial refereeing calls throughout, which added to the tension.
The first half was very poor with just two points from play. The first came in the opening minute from Kieran Whyte and the other was a fisted effort from Padraig Scott in the 10th minute and at half-time it was Tulsk ahead by 0-4 to 0-3. It was a forgettable half of football as both teams seemed paralysed by fear after the drama of the previous week. The stop-sart nature of the game with so many frees was also a reason for the poor quality.
The second half was much better. Tulsk went two ahead (0-6 to 0-4) by the 36th minute with points from Thomas O’Rourke (free) and Tadgh O’Rourke, while Oran’s point came from the boot of Darragh Walsh (a free). Then it was Oran’s time to turn up the heat and four points on the bounce saw them two ahead by the 43rd minute. Thomas Fetherstone was on as a second-half sub and playing well in midfield once again. Points from Charlie Carthy and Darragh Walsh (frees) were added to by splendid efforts from Kieran Whyte and Fetherston.
But in the nature of this battle Tulsk came once again. Sub David Carlton pointed a free and then Callum Fahey kicked a super score from 40 metres. And when the same player was on target again, Gerry Lohan’s men were ahead by a point with ten minutes to play.
The baton was handed to Oran then, and Darragh Walsh swung over the point of the game to level it and then Ciaran Casey nudged them ahead in the 58th minute. But Tulsk were not to be denied. Thomas O’Rourke is a top class free-taker and he obliged a minute later from a placed ball 30 metres out. No one would have been surprised when both sides scored in injury-time to send the game into extra-time. Evan Flynn kicked a mighty point for Tulsk but Darragh Walsh showed the coolness of a veteran to tie the scores again with a pointed free four minutes into injury-time. It was Oran 0-11 Tulsk 0-11 and extra-time beckoned.
The players were tiring now and the pace slowed. In the first period Darragh Walsh and Charlie Carthy pointed frees and Thomas O’Rourke was on target with a long-range effort which left Oran ahead at the break.
When the play resumed O’Rourke continued with his free-taking exhibition with two more splendid efforts. And just when it looked that Oran would fall short by a point, Thomas Fetherston burst forward two minutes into injury-time and for a split second a goal was on, but he elected to fist the ball over the bar and it was stalemate once again.
In fairness, the penalties situation was clearly stated in the match programme, and now it was a reality. The spot-kicks were taken at the graveyard end of the ground and Mikey Monaghan (Oran) and Regan Fahey would be the men who had the unenviable task of facing the penalty kicks.
Charlie Carthy was first to go and the Oran youngster’s shot was saved by Fahey. Then Tulsk were ahead when Callum Fahey was on target. Oran sub goalkeeper Paul Brandon was next and he scored and Tulsk nudged ahead again when county player Tadgh O’Rourke was on the mark.
Young Colin Walsh kept Oran in the hunt with a fine score but the experienced Richie Feeney made sure for Tulsk with their third successful penalty. Darragh Walsh then stepped up and Fahey brought off another fine save. If Tulsk scored next the title was theirs and sub David Carlton drove his shot low and hard past Mikey Monaghan and it was all over. It was dramatic surely, but unsatisfactory to say the least.
For Tulsk Evan Flynn, Ryan Galvin, David Coyne, and Callum Fahey were very prominent but the Man of the Match was young Thomas O’Rourke who was front and centre of all Tulsk’s good play.
For a devastated Oran, who were losing their third final in four years after a replay, Colin Walsh, Mike Dwyer, Kieran Whyte, Darragh Walsh and sub Thomas Fetherston were outstanding on the day. Oran must be wondering this week just what they have to do to win an intermediate title. This loss may be the most painful of all. This way of deciding a county final must never happen again.