Thurles Town made it to the semi final of the John Delaney Cup after a scintillating display against Clonmel Celtic, winning the game by five goals to one. A brace apiece from Paul Kirwan and Aidan Keenan either side of a fine Phillipe Samuel strike was enough for the hosts despite a late converted penalty from Evan Maguire.
It took Thurles only five minutes to break the deadlock as a high ball in from Stevie Coppinger was chased down by Barry Ryan and the ball then fell at the feet of Kirwan whose left foot drive beat Jason Connolly on the Celtic goal. Town felt aggrieved on the ten minute mark when Ryan was felled in the area but referee David Butler point for a corner rather than the spot. Town would double their lead on the twenty-second minute when a Samuel corner from the left was brilliantly headed home by Keenan for his first of the game. Two was to become three ten minutes before half time when another corner from Samuel found Micheál Byrne who in turn passed right back to the winger and his resulting drive nestled into the bottom corner giving Connolly no chance. The first have was completely dominated by the hosts with Celtic offering very little in the way of chances.
Celtic carved out their first real chance of note two minutes into the second half when a cross from the right was found by Cian O’Sulivan and is left footed effort missed the target when he should have scored. Celticwould be made to rue that missed chance five minutes later when Keenan left three defenders in his wake and blasted home from the edge of the area in a fantastic solo effort to end the game as a contest. Celtic nearly pulled one back two minutes later when Niall O’Brien found himself through on goal but his shot missed the target. The day got worse for Celtic with twenty-five minutes to go when a sublime Joe Moloney ball sent Kirwan through again and his deft lob found the back of the net in style. The game slowed down considerably as both sides rang in the changes and Kirwan will be unhappy that he didn’t bag a hattrick with fifteen minutes remaining, Ryan did brilliantly down the right and his cross found Kirwan but he couldn’t keep his header down. Celtic were gifted a consolation with two minutes left in the game when they were awarded a dubious penalty. Evan Maguire stepped up and made no mistake as he slotted the ball into the bottom corner.
A big win for Town who were impressive all over the park in their 3-5-2 formation and the management team of Boca Glasheen and Noel Byrne seems to be working a treat. Celtic looked a bit off the pace which is understandable at this point of the season. Aidan Keenan was today’s Stoppagetime.ie Man of the Match, a huge force in the centre of midfield and two fine goals to boot.