Saturday 13th September 2003
Fethard knock out champions as Morrissey stars
by Eamonn Lacey
County Senior Football Championship Quarterfinal
Fethard 0-13, Clonmel Commercials 0-9
- County football champions Clonmel Commercials were dethroned by their great rivals Fethard in a pulsating county championship quarter final in Kilsheelan last Sunday evening.
In miserable conditions Fethard ground out a memorable victory in an entertaining and tension packed contest in which veteran Willie Morrissey led by example to steer Fethard to glory.
Morrissey was outstanding and his contribution so influential in the last quarter of this closely contested match that he swung the match in his team's favour with a powerful performance.
Commercials will point to the sending off of the one player on the field who came closest to matching the performance of Willie Morrissey, Fergal O'Callaghan.
In truth Morrissey had turned the game prior to Brian White giving O'Callaghan his marching orders with seven minutes left in the game. Had O’Callaghan who was given a straight red for dissent, remained on the field Commercials would have had a better chance of salvaging something out of this game. With O'Callaghan gone there was no way back for Commercials.
Morrissey, listed as centre forward. played out of his skin in numerous positions during a second half when his leadership and spirit inspired Fethard.
With substitute Ian Barnes scoring an excellent free under pressure to leave just one point between the teams with thirteen minutes remaining, the game was finely balanced and it could have gone either way.
The indomitable Willie Morrissey then pounced to put some distance between the teams in a two-minute spell of magic.
He extended Fethard's lead to two points with a fantastic score he managed to take from a difficult angle despite being surrounded by a number of Commercials defenders.
Then playing deep in defence he won possession and looked up to play an inch perfect pass to the superb full forward Brian Coen who made full use of the assist and pointed to give Fethard a three point lead with ten minutes left in the game.
Now Commercials needed a goal from somewhere but the loss of O'Callaghan three minutes later denied them of one of their primary threats and their chances of getting that crucial breakthrough faded considerably when he made an early exit to the dressing rooms.
Commercials had looked the most likely to score a goal at the start of the second half when they dominated the game. A point down at the break they introduced Ian Barnes and Ian Cleary who combined with livewire John Harney playing off full forward Criostóir McGrath, Commercials began to create chances in front of goal.
Criostóir McGrath came closest to providing the game's only goal when he forced a tremendous save from Fethard goalie Paul Fitzgerald who managed to beat the ball away. The rebound fell to substitute Ian Cleary whose shot was well smothered by the advancing Fitzgerald who recovered well after his initial save.
Cleary and in particular Ian Barnes made a difference when introduced. Barnes provided O'Callaghan and his midfield partner Liam Phelan with another option and the talented Barnes scored two of Commercials three points in the second half, one of which levelled matters nine minutes into the second half.
Both those scores came from frees as did Commercials' only other score of the half, a Fergal O’Callaghan score.
Commercials, despite their superiority for the opening period of the second half, failed to score from play during the second half. Commercials had the Fethard defence working overtime to cope with the speed and movement of the pacy Harney, Barnes and Cleary trio but they were unable to turn possession into scores.
Fethard weathered the storm with Willie Morrissey and Michael Spillane working incredibly hard helping out their midfielders and Brian Coen acting as a willing target man at full forward foraging hard to find possession.
Morrissey's telling contribution was enough to give Fethard an advantage at a crucial stage in the game and when O'Callaghan committed an offence to warrant a straight red card, Commercials task of recovering became all the more difficult.
Morrissey's second point of the game and his assist to Coen which gave Fethard a three point lead came as a killer blow to Commercials.
Once O'Callaghan received his marching orders the county champions were finished. His presence in the middle of the field was a staggering loss to Commercials when they needed him most. O'Callaghan had put in a towering performance in midfield. While Fethard's Aidan Fitzgerald started brightly in that sector he started to fade as O'Callaghan took over.
Such was O'Callaghan' influence in midfield Fethard worked extremely hard to negate his impact with Morrissey and Spillane called on to crowd the midfield area.
Without O'Callaghan, the Commercials had nobody in midfield to drive them on in an effort to save the game.
Fethard held firm in the closing stages with Cian Maher, Tomas Keane and Michael Quinlan resisting their best efforts before John P Looby scored the insurance point putting Fethard four points ahead with a minute left in the game.
At the final whistle Fethard supporters congratulated their players who had pulled off a memorable victory with most of the Fethard supporters among the small crowd at the soaked Kilsheelan venue making a headway for Willie Morrissey.
Fethard: Paul Fitzgerald, Damien Byrne, Michael Ahearne, Stephen O'Donnell, Tomas Keane, Cian Maher, Michael Quinlan, Aiden Fitzgerald (0.1), PJ Ahearne, Carl Maher (0.2), Willie Morrissey (0.2), John P. Looby (0.1), Micheál Spillane (0.1), Brian Coen (0-5) and Jimmy O'Meara. Subs. Michael Dillon (0.1) for Carl Maher, Glen Burke for PJ Ahearne
Clonmel Commercials: Philly Ryan, Danny Madigan, Donnacha Fahey, Liam Murphy, Fergus O'Callaghan, Tom Kelly. Seanie O'Loughlin, Fergal O'Callaghan (0.3), Liam Phelan, Paudie O'Keeffe (0-2), Eamon Hanrahan (0-1), Paul O'Mahoney, Fergal Condon, Criostóir McGrath, John Harney (0.1) Subs: Ian Barnes (0.2) for Paul O'Mahoney, Jan Cleary for Seanie 0' Loughlin, Tommy Morrissey for Liam Phelan.