2023 County U21A Football Final

FBD Insurance County U21A Football Championship Final (9th December 2023)

Clonmel Commercials 1-10 (13)

Cappawhite Gaels 0-5 (5)

John O’Shea at Golden.

Clonmel Commercials, pre-match favourites, overcame the challenge of Cappawhite Gaels to record their eleventh success in the FBD Insurance County Under 21A Football championship at a windswept Golden on Saturday afternoon. Playing in their thirteenth final and their first since 2016, which was also their last success in the grade, the South champions dominated from early on with a combination of good defending, ability to slow down the game when required, recycle and pop over the points when presented with the opportunity.

They had too many big hitters in their team, with good senior experience, and this showed throughout. Once they got in for the only goal after fifteen minutes, following a turnover, Cappa Gaels were facing a huge mountain. The west champions, playing in their first final at this grade, battled to the end, and pushed Commercials all the way.

The big difference between the sides was the ability of Commercials to dictate the pace of the game, with some great movements out of defence, while holding up the ball to allow attackers to get forward. Most of their passes, both from hand and foot were inch perfect, despite being put under pressure by their opponents. Cappa Gaels defended in numbers and turned over a lot of the Commercial attacks, but this defending in numbers took its toll in their energy sapping play. Time and time again after some great movements and play out of defence, the final ball, be it from hand or foot went astray.

Cappa Gaels had in Stephen Dee a very accomplished player, who covered the length of the field and was a pleasure to watch. His fielding, ball control, and his ability to track back was a feature of his game. He tackled well in defence, as did the Cappa defence in general. They were very disciplined, not giving away easy frees. In fact all eleven Commercial scores came from open play.

Commercials played with the aid of a diagonal wind into the near end for the opening half and attacked from the off, retaining possession for the opening ninety seconds. The Cappa defence withstood huge pressure during the opening minutes until a big run out of defence by Stephen Dee drew a free some forty meters out from the far goal. Dee himself converted to give the West champions a brief lead. This lead was short lived, as from the resulting kick-out Commercials attacked down the open side and Darragh O’Connor equalised. One minute later Cappa produced their move of the game involving Conor Martin, Mikey O’Brien and Stephen Dee. Dee put Anthony Barry through but his low shot was brilliantly saved by Shane Ryan at the expense of a 45., which yielded nothing. Commercials were gradually getting on top and Tadhg Sheehan came up-field to put over a great score. Cathal Deely followed up around the quarter mark to put two between the sides. The Gaels were finding it very difficult to get out of their own half, such was the pressure being applied by Commercials, who kept pushing up.

The goal came on sixteen minutes following a turnover by Commercials, the ball eventually reaching Peter McGarry and his shot, which looked as it may go over the bar, ended in the top corner of the net. McGarry gathered the resulting kick-out and split the posts for point number four. These two scores within a minute gave Commercials a six-point advantage, an advantage that they would hold to the finish. What followed were a couple of half chances for the Gaels, but these came to nothing, with the final ball going astray. Commercials kept up the pressure with controlled possession and Declan Nee kicked a point from around thirty meters. Cappa finished the half with a four man move which resulted in Brian Ger Buckley popping one over at the far end to leave the half time score Commercials 1.5, Cappawhite Gaels 0.2.

The general consensus during the break was that Cappa Gaels were facing an uphill battle to get back in the game, that Commercials had all the aces and ability to push on. Cappa Gaels won possession at the restart and following a slow build up Stephen Dee cut the deficit wit a point from an acute angle. For the next ten minutes they attacked the Commercials defence, but yielded zero on the scoreboard, with a few wayward kicks and some near misses. The also had some bad shot choices and balls dropping short. This was their best period of possession but didn’t transfer to the scoreboard. With forty minutes gone Alex Creed got on the end of a counter attack to ease Commercials back to a six point advantage. The next ten minutes saw the best in Cappa Gaels. They took the game to the South men and around the three quarter mark, following great attacking work from Gearoid Ryan (B) he found Stephen Dee, who kicked what was the score of the game. Cappa were also defending well but finding scores hard to come-by at the other end. Dee again converted a placed ball on eighteen minutes to leave four between the sides, but this was as near as it got. With ten minutes remaining Cian Smith split the posts before Aidan Mair saved well from Ross Slattery at the expense of a 45. Joe Higgins’s 45 looked to be drifting wide only to be fielded on the end line by Darragh O’Connor, who turned and put over from a very narrow angle. That score really summed up their day as Cathal Deely and Cian Smith finished out the game with two late scores.

Commercials were champions for the first time since 2016, finishing off their year with another Senior/Under 21 County final double.

Clonmel Commercials: Shane Ryan, Thomas Charles, Ross Slattery, Alex McSherry, Tadhg Condon, James Morris, Tadhg Sheehan (0.1), Joe Higgins, Cathal Deely (0.2), Darragh O’Connor (0.2), Peter McGarry (1.1), Dean Cagney, Cian Smith (0.2), Declan Nee (0.1), Alex Creed (0.1)
Subs used; Mark Corcoran for Alex Creed (49), Niall Deely for Cathal Deely (56), Oisin Power for Cian Smith (60), Jamie O’Keeffe for Tadhg Sheehan (60)

Cappawhite Gaels: Aidan Mair, Pakie Barry, Gearoid Ryan (B), Daire Duggan, Mikey O’Brien (Captain), Tommy O’Mahony, Michael English, Tommy Costello, Stephen Dee (0.4, 2 frees), Ben White, Sam Carmody, Conor Martin, Cian O’Carroll, Anthony Barry, Brian G. Buckley (0.1)
Subs used; Tristan Stokes for Anthony Barry (35), Neil Clancy for Brian G. Buckley (42), Sean Cleary for Sam Carmody (53), Conor Gantley for Cian O’Carroll (55)Mikey Carmody for Tommy O’Mahony (60)

Referee: Keith Delahunty (Moyle Rovers)

Path to the final:

West Semi-Final

Cappawhite Gaels 3-12 Arravale Rovers 1-4

West Final 🏆

Cappawhite Gaels 1-6 Galtee Rovers 1-4

County Semi-Final

Cappawhite Gaels 1-9 Ballina 0-10

County Final

Cappawhite Gaels 0-05 Clonmel Commercials 1-10

Josh Kennedy, Keith Delahunty & Mikey O’ Brien

(Back L-R) Conor Martin, Brian Gerard Buckley, Stephen Dee, Michael English, Aidan Mair, Anthony Barry, Cian O’ Carroll, Seán Cleary, Mikey Carmody, Neil Clancy, Tristian Stokes (Front L-R) Pakie Barry, Sam Carmody, Thomas O’ Mahoney, Gearoid Ryan (B) Mikey O’ Brien (Captain), Tommy Costello, James Quinlan, Ben White, Daire Duggan, Conor Gantley.

Well kicked point by Brian Ger Buckley. (Video by Clubber TV).



By procappawhite Sat 9th Dec