MUNSTER CLUB JFC SEMI-FINAL
The ‘Sold Out’ sign went up early in the morning, 1,500 people making their way to a field in west Limerick to watch a pair of superstar brothers in action for Fossa, the younger one in particular.
Well they got what they came for… sort of. David and Paudie Clifford left the field with eight points between them, but it was the O’Shea brothers who stole the show as the Kerry champions reduced the Feohanagh-Castlemahon team to bystanders. Between them Tadhg and Emmet scored 1-10 from play, with the younger, Emmet, giving a masterclass with 1-7 from play.
Anyone from the host club who mightn’t have been exactly sure what David Clifford looked like (is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t?) could easily have mistaken Emmet O’Shea for the Footballer of the Year in the first half.
His goal in the 25th minute might easily have been engineered in Dermot Clifford’s back garden. Little seemed on from a Fossa free in front of the packed stand but David Clifford spotted Emmet O’Shea free up ahead and pinged a perfect pass to the corner forward. From there, O’Shea advanced a few metres and then cracked a super shot off the outside of his boot that pinged off the inside of the far post giving Gearoid Sexton no chance.
There was little doubt over where this result was going long before the game’s only goal was scored, but O’Shea’s green flag put Fossa 1-10 to 0-1 ahead in a game the Kerry champions were never put under the slightest bit of pressure.
Fresh from picking up a pocketful of medals the night before at the Kerry GAA medal presentation ceremony in Killarney, all the focus was on the Clifford brothers, David in particular, hence the sell-out 1,500 attendance for a fixture that would normally attract a quarter of that.
With Paudie quarter-backing the game from no.6 and David wearing no.14 and bringing his big presence to the edge of the square, Feohanagh-Castlemahon clearly gave the latter the respect and attention. The problem was they clearly didn’t factor in the talents of the O’Shea brothers.
Somewhat bizarrely it was the home side that scored first: their full forward David O’Donovan winning a free, which midfielder Alan Roche converted in the fourth minute.
A minute later Paudie Clifford picked out Emmet O’Shea with one of his trademark searching passes and the inside man chipped over his first point with the aid of the crossbar.
A minute after that Tadhg O’Shea had his first score, set up by Matt Rennie, and Fossa were off and running. The Kerry club played with a slight breeze in the first half, which invited Feohanagh-Castlemahon to drop almost every players back behind the ball, a tactic they still employed for much of the second half when they had that wind behind them.
It mattered little either way as Fossa moved the ball so quickly and slickly through the lines, picking off scores almost as will once they could find a bit of space in that thicket of Feohanagh-Castlemahon bodies.
Points from Tadhg O’Shea (2), Emmet O’Shea (2), David Clifford (2), Paudie Clifford and Rennie had Fossa 0-10 to 0-1 ahead before O’Shea’s thunderbolt arrived, and a late Cian O’Shea point left Fossa in total control at the interval, 1-11 to 0-1 ahead.
The second half was simply about Fossa getting through without losing anyone to injury or ill-discipline, while the home side just needed to wrestle some semblance of respectability from the contest.
Fossa scored the first seven points of the second half before Mike Fitzgibbon – home from his Dubai base for this game – scored Feohanagh-Castlemahon’s first score from play in the 50th minute to make it 1-18 to 0-2.
Roche scored another three points for the Limerick club in the last 10 minutes, while Emmet O’Shea embellished his ‘man of the match’ performance with another two points as Fossa saw out the game to its inevitable conclusion.
In those last 10 minutes Fossa withdrew Tadhg O’Shea, David Clifford, Rennie and eventually Paudie Clifford with a Munster Final in mind in two weeks against Cork champions Kilmurry, who were 2-11 to 0-12 winners over Thurles Sarsfields.
All to easy, then, for the Kerry champions who cruised to an expected win with the help of a double-act by their brilliant brothers… just not the super siblings that drew 1,500 people to Quaid Park in Coolyroe.
FEOHANAGH-CASTLEMAHON: Gearoid Sexton, Michael Cremin, Niall Kennedy, Cathal Lynch, Jason Flynn, Michael Nolan, David O’Brien, Sean Flanagan, Alan Roche 0-4 (2f), Mattie Sullivan, Seamus Flanagan, Ciaran O’Sullivan, Sean Downey, David O’Sullivan, John Francis Reidy. Subs: Mike Fitzgibbon (0-1) for M Cremin (inj, 20), Jack Condon for M Sullivan (44), John McEnery for J Flynn (45), Kevin Normoyle for JF Reidy (47), Diarmuid Nash for N Kennedy (58).
FOSSA: Shane O’Sullivan, Kevin McCarthy, Fintan Coffey, Brian Myers, Dan O’Keeffe, Paudie Clifford 0-4, Dan O’Connell, Eoin Talbot, Paddy Sheehan, Harry Buckley, Matt Rennie 0-2, Cian O’Shea, Tadhg O’Shea 0-3, David Clifford 0-4 (2f), Emmet O’Shea 1-7. Subs: Harry Kelly 0-1 for T O’Shea (48), Darren Cronin for D Clifford (48), Anthony Wharton for K McCarthy (50), Rian Colleran for M Rennie (50), Mark Dennehy for P Clifford (56)
REFEREE: James Bermingham (Cork)