Nenagh Celtic 1
Abbeyfeale Utd 2
Limerick Desmond League Champions Abbeyfeale Utd have qualified for the Munster Champions Trophy Final after a hard fought win over North Tipperary & District League Champions Nenagh Celtic. Paudie Smith’s two goals before half time proved to be enough for the Limerick side despite Jamie Kelly reducing the arrears for Celtic in the second half.
United got the first chance after four minutes when P.Smith played Joe Kelliher through and his drive was deflected narrowly wide. The game was to become a very cage affair with both sides looking to keep possession until the nineteenth minute when Jimmy Hynes found space in the box and his firm shot went straight at Billy Quirke.
From the half hour mark the visitors started to look more dangerous when Barry Sheehy and Packie O’Connor both had decent chances but neither managed to hit the target. Celtic had a huge opertunity on the thirty seventh minute when Hynes raced down the right and his pass into the area found Sean Healy who had his shot brilliantly blocked by Chris Smith and Jamie Kelly couldn’t take advantage of the loose ball as he dragged his shot wide.
United took the lead three minutes before half time when brilliant inter passing from Cormac Roche and O’Connor down the right seen the former cross the ball into Sheehy and his deft touch found P.Smith bearing down on Byrne in the Celtic goal and he made no mistake as he rolled the ball into the net. It would be indeed P.Smith again who’d double Uniteds lead on the stroke of half time when Roan Carroll brilliantly put O’Connor through and his cross found the head of Smith who made no mistake.
The second half started as the first ended when good passing from Sheehan and Sheehy sent P.Smith through on goal again but this time Jake Byrne was equal to it as he made a fine save. Celtic pulled one back four minutes into the half when a Stephen Flynn shot was fumbled BY Quirke and Jamie Kelly was on hand to put the ball onto the top corner from the tightest of angles. Five minutes later Danny Ryan shot from distance and again Quirke failed to hold onto it but he saved Kelly’s follow up very well to keep his side in the lead. On the hour mark Celtic should have equalised when Niddy Ryan’s through ball found Hynes bearing down on goal but Quirke was again equal to the shot and spread himself brilliantly to deny the hosts.
Celtic continued to push forward and snap shots from Kelly and Niddy Ryan were easily saved by Quirke. It was in the dying stages that Celtic thought they had equalised when a Hynes cross into the box found Marky Walsh in space and his low drive from five yards was miraculously saved by Quirke down to his right, a save that in reality sent his side into the final.
A tough game for both sides that could have went either way, again Celtic’s poor finishing has cost them but huge credit goes to the Desmond champions as they fought for the win with every ounce of their being for the ninety minutes.
The better players on the day for Celtic were Marky Walsh who was very good both and centre half and up front and but for Quirke he would have sent the game into extra time, Jimmy Hynes’ work rate was exceptional despite being alienated for large portions, Danny Ryan grew into the game and if he was in any way lucky he might have had his side level.
Abbeyfeale’s top players on the day were Joe Kelliher who was a constant nuisance all day, some very good play from a very experienced player. Paudie Smith’s two goals effectively won the game for his side and Packie O’Connor was brilliant throughout. But the stoppagetime.ie Man Of The Match goes to Billy Quirke who made some very important saves especially in the second half, the save from Walsh at the death is without a doubt the best we have seen this season and for that he deserves it.
Stoppagetime.ie Man Of The Match…… Billy Quirke (GK)