Nenagh Celtic hosted Thurles Town in this seasons NT&DL Premier Division Shield Final and the game lived up to all expectations as only the odd goal in five separated the teams.
Town started well and with only two minutes gone a Paraic Fogarty pass seen Captain Barry Ryan go through but his shot missed the target. Celtic soon found their feet and took control of the game for large parts in the next twenty minutes and finally had a chance when Mark Walsh shot from twenty yards but an in form Graeme Loughman saved well with his feet and the resulting shot was fired over the bar, a big chance missed. The midfield battle continued as both sides looked to force the initiative and indeed it was Town who broke the deadlock as some scrappy defending seen the ball land to Micky Comerford some 25 yards out and his low drive beat Damien Corcoran in the Celtic goal on 34minutes. A fantastic finish. Town soon doubled their lead three minutes later as Comerford, once again in the thick of the action, crossed the ball in from the left and found Barry Ryan who made no mistake with a glancing header. Celtic might have got one back on the stroke of half time when Stephen Flynn found space ten yards from goal but he couldn’t keep his shot down.
Thurles started the second half in a very shaky manner as Celtic pressed but a mix of good defending and smart goalkeeping kept Celtic at bay as Loughman saved well from a a point blank header and a one on one in quick succession. Loughman was to be beaten though on 51 minutes when Mark Walsh got the ball in mid field and his beautiful through ball found Flynn who made no mistake this time and brought his side right back into the game with a very neat finish. Only two minutes later Celtic would equalise when a Danny Ryan free kick found Mark Walsh in the box and his header found the net with aplomb to send the home side into hysterics. A scrappy final third was to come as both sides looked to force a winner and indeed it was Town who did so in very fortuitous circumstances when on 66 minutes Martin Darmody shot from distance and found a massive deflection to wrong foot Corcoran and put his side back in the lead.
Both sides continued to battle hard but neither keeper was to be beaten again and Town managed to set down their marker for the rest of the season. In the post match celebrations Thurles Captain Barry Ryan assured all that would listen that his side would not go away this season and that they are ready and committed to fight for the Premier Division Title.
This was perhaps a match that Celtic shaded in every department apart from the most important and with so many players missing this performance will give them a boost for the season ahead.
Best performances on the day were Paul Walsh, Stephen Flynn, Danny Ryan and Mark Walsh for Celtic, Town’s Micky Comerford, Aaron Ryan and Martin Darmody all impressed but the man of the stoppagetime.ie Match award goes to Graeme Loughman in the Thurles goal, his saves were certainly the difference on the day.
The match highlights can be found on https://youtu.be/SMSUIUyytmU and Barry Ryan’s Speech is at the very end.