NT&DL Premier Division
Killavilla Utd 1-2 Thurles Town
Thurles Town once again showed their title credentials last night after an epic come from behind win against Killavilla Utd in Villa Park. The home side went ahead on the hour mark courtesy of a Craig Ryan penalty but Town’s resilience was once again highlighted as Micheal Byrne and a Derek Loughnane penalty turned the game around in the last seventeen minutes.
In what would be a tough battle both sides had noticeable absentees as Paul Lake, Brian Franks and Roddy Teehan were missing from the Villa line-up, likewise Graeme Loughman, Aidan Keenan and Barry Ryan for the visitors along with Noel Byrne on the side-line, with Brian Glasheen taking the reins.
The absences showed early on as neither side could gain a proper foothold in the first fifteen minutes as strong tackling seemed to be the main course on the menu. Neither side could manage to put a dent in either defence as both looked very comfortable. Indeed, it would be the away side that would get the first real effort of interest as Ross King collected the ball some twenty-five yards out and his fantastic drive was sailing into the top corner only for Villa custodian Jason Ryan to superbly touch the ball over the bar. The resulting corner from Phillippe Samuel as a very dangerous one and Ryan again had to tip it to safety from right under the bar.
Villa would grab their biggest chance of the first half as a long Denis Moloney pass was touched on by Craig Ryan and Shane Moloney’s resulting left foot volley was heading towards the top corner but stand-in keeper Davie Coppinger was equal to it and saved brilliantly, the resulting corner from Denis Money again found his name-sake Shane but his header was once again saved by Coppinger. There were no real chances of note in the remaining minutes of the half as Brian Moloney’s influence at centre midfield continued to grow.
Thurles started the second half the brighter and might have taken the lead five minutes in as magnificent work from Stevie Coppinger down the left seen him drive the ball past Ryan in the goal but Ian Treacy was on hand to magnificently header the ball to safety before it reached the net, a real let off for the hosts. Villa would take full advantage of this only seven minutes later as a beautifully weighted ball from Brian Moloney sent Craig Ryan racing into the area and he was then needlessly bundled over by Samuel and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Craig Ryan then dusted himself off and confidently slotted the ball into the bottom corner sending Coppinger the wrong way and his side into an unlikely lead.
Thurles would immediately pile the pressure on the hosts as they used the strong win very well, three corners in quick succession seen Jason Ryan pull off three spectacular, if not nearly impossible saves from Adrian Cleare, Aaron Ryan and Ross King, the latter been touched onto the crossbar from point blank range. This would all turn sour on the talented keeper some ten minutes later however as a long Micheal Byrne ball into the area should have been routinely caught but the ball slipped from Ryan’s grasp and bounced into the net despite a last-ditch effort to recover from his mistake.
This was the lift the champions needed and they completed their comeback ten minutes from time as they were awarded a penalty because of an Ian Treacy handball, again the correct decision. Derek Loughnane stepped up and tucked the ball into the bottom corner much to the joy of the Town side-line as they continue their unbeaten league run which is at a near two-year length.
In a game that the weather perhaps stopped any real flowing football it was still a tough entertaining affair between two quality sides. Work Rate and Heart were in abundance from both sides as they never gave up on any ball throughout, John Cordial played a fantastic game at centre half for the hosts while the Town partnership of O’Connor and Ryan were again very hard to break down. Town seemed to struggle creatively without Keenan and Barry Ryan with the two errors from the hosts effectively winning the game for them.
The man of the match award goes to Brian Moloney who put in a tireless shift on centre midfield for the hosts and he looks to be finding the form of years gone by.