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Brackens claim county title in style

Published 4 months ago 29th December 2023 by Big John

J.K. Brackens. 1:11
Moyne-Templetouhy 0:07

Over the past few years football supporters in Tipperary have witnessed some extraordinary county football finals but last Saturday’s County U17A Football Final between Mid Tipperary rivals JK Brackens and Moyne-Templetouhy surely ranks amongst the best.

It was a game that had the supporters of both sides totally invested from the time referee Derek O’Mahony threw in the ball until he signalled full stop over an hour later. Not since the days of Matt The
Thresher have two teams put in such a hard shift for the ‘glory of the little parish”.

Moyne-Templetouhy had produced an amazing semi-final performance of skill and grit to account for a strongly fancied Arravale Rovers while aficionados of the ancient game will say they had never seen a more complete performance from JK Brackens than in their semi-final win over Fethard.

While Saturday’s game might not have equalled that for purity of football, it outstripped it for sheer excitement. Playing with the aid of a wind that was breathing heavily towards the dressing room end of Leahy Park in Cashel, midfielder, Dayle Hogan got Brackens off to the perfect start with a point after 45 seconds.

Moyne-Templetouhy responded quickly thanks to a free in the third minute from Cathal Guilfoyle. Then for the remainder of the first quarter, Moyne-Templetouhy took over and in truth they could and should have got at least one goal in this period but were denied by Cian Sheedy in the Brackens goal. He got down smartly to smother a Ben Moore pile driver before getting his footwork and his angles right to bravely deny Finn Jones from close range. On the sidelines, his father Tadhg, the JKB manager, nodded his head in approval.

The turning point or should I say the turning goal, came in the fifteenth minute of the game. Billy Collier, a man who throughout the course of the game showed he could find Shergar with a foot pass, collected a ball in a parcel of space around 40 yards out from them Moyne-Templetouhy goal. His speculative shot deceived both friend and foe and wound up in the front of the net. It was a goal which provided the spark that lit the JK Brackens fire. From the resulting kick-out, Cormac Foy was fouled and Jamie Ormond showed Moyne that crime doesn’t pay by pointing from the free. Padraic O’Shea added two more from play. O’Shea might only be only be 15 years of age and if he were a jockey he would be entitled to claim the full allowance but as the Moyne defence found out he is a wolf in lambs clothing.

Brackens were now in full flow moving the ball quickly by hand and foot. By the 25th minute they had laid siege to the Moyne-Templetouhy goal. Two more points from play from Dylan Quinlan and Tom Corcoran pushed their lead out to eight points (1:06 to 0:01).

But as Arravale Rovers discovered in the semi-final, you could bury this Moyne-Templetouhy team at a crossroads with a stake through their hearts and they would still spring up. Ben Moore, who was a constant thorn in the JK Brackens side, drove at the defence and pointed. Moments later Cathal Guilfoyle pulled another back before Jamie Ormond replied with a point in the 30th minute to send the
teams in for the Jaffa Cakes on a scoreline of 1:07 to 0:03.

It had been a wonderful Act 1 performed by two fine teams and yet you couldn’t help feel the drama was only beginning. The experts and non-experts in the stands were channelling their inner Evelyn Cusack
as they debated how strong the wind was. The more optimistic Moyne-Templetouhy fans and the more pessimistic JK Brackens supporters felt it was worth at least five to six points. In truth, the two teams, who by now were in the sanctuary of their dressing rooms, had played the game with such passion and skill in the opening half, that one suspected neither team had even noticed the wind. Indeed, there were times during the first half that I recalled the opening line in Stephen Crane’s short story “The Open Boat” where the men were rowing so hard “None of them knew the colour of the sky”.

At the resumption, Moyne-Templetouhy took control from the throwin. Ben Moore ensured that the man on the electronic scoreboard wasn’t going to get an extended tea-break with a point from play after 30 seconds of the new half. Two minutes later Cathal Guilfoyle added another point from a free. Guilfoyle repeated the trick in the 37th minute and then the hero of their semi-final victory, Finn Jones swung
over a beauty in the 39th minute.

With the lead now down to three points, the stands began to heave. The budding Evelyn Cussack’s were now upgrading the colour status of the wind from yellow to orange. With twenty minutes still to play, there was only a kick of the ball between the sides and Moyne-Templetouhy, looked to be a strong position to further reduce the deficit.

But Moyne-Templetouhy didn’t have a monopoly on heart and determination and as we had seen so often throughout the course of this championship, you’d need the months mind said before you could
declare this JKB team dead. Keeper Cian Sheedy had kept the goalmouth neat and tidy all day and was Cluxton like with his kick-outs ensuring Brackens gained primary possession at vital times in the game. Corner back Tommy Burke patrolled his area with the alertness of a parish priest at a 1950’s ceilí and was well backed up by his curates, the outstanding 15 year old full back Niall Delaney and the teak tough corner back Kieran Martin.

Rudyard Kipling told us that “if you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs……….. you’ll be a man, my son”. When the need was greatest, the half back line of Cian Broderick, Josh Quinlan and Tom Corcoran kept his heads and played like a men. The old saying that backs win games and forwards just decide by how much, certainly rang through for JK Brackens during this period of dominance by Moyne at the start of the second half. When the chips were down, it was the half back line who provided the salt and vinegar.

A remarkable sequence of play in the 41st minute in which no quarter was asked or given, saw both teams calling for about three frees each before Derek O’Mahony finally blew the whistle for a foul on Jamie Ormond. An injury to a Moyne player during this sequence delayed the game for a minute or two. It was the break that JK Brackens needed to stop the Moyne-Templetouhy momentum. From the restart,
JK Brackens showed amazing maturity and held on to the ball for nearly four minutes before eventually drawing a foul which Tom Corcoran pointed from almost 45 meters out, into the wind. It was a remarkable kick from a player who, in this reporters not so humble opinion, was the outstanding player in this year’s minor football championship.

And so having weathered the metaphorical storm, the stage was now set for JK Brackens to moonwalk towards the line. Man of the Match, Jamie Ormond added the point of the day in the 53rd minute. Ormond really is an amazing player. As a ball carrier I have never seen his equal; he makes the flight path of a snipe seem utterly predictable. He would add two more points before the end to bring his tally for the day to five. After their initial dominance at the start of the second half, Moyne failed to score in the last 20 minutes and so this remarkable encounter finished 1:11 to 0:07.

Still the seven point defeat did not reflect the might of the Moyne-Templetouhy effort. They had heroes in every line of the field and maybe none more-so than Cathal Guilfoyle. In the cauldron that is the middle third of pitch, he went about his business with the absence of fuss. He is a difficult man to overawe.
For Finn Jones and Jimmy Campion to even be available to play this game was a remarkable achievement. They had picked up injuries late in the semi-final and had spent the week in the repair shop. In the circumstances they performed heroically.

Ben Moore didn’t put as much as a small toe wrong all day while David Doyle, Eoghan Sumners and Chris Dunne also did very little wrong and an awful lot right. But the day belonged to the Templemore based side. County U15 champions two years ago, they took the field with three of that winning side in dry dock. Jack Marnell, Sean Walsh and Cormac Bourke who all started the final two years were absent through long term injuries while Sean Stone suffered a hand injury prior to the semi-final game which also ruled him out.

As well as those already mentioned, Dayle Hogan and Sean Purcell in midfield did the unpaid and unpensionable work all day long. But it would be unfair and dishonest to say they just worked hard. They
mixed their hard work with moments of sublime skill. Ciaran O’Shea who although picked at full forward was deployed further out the field and as you would expect from a player of his quality, he produced some big moments especially when relieving pressure on the defence by carrying ball after ball against the wind in the second half.

Up front, Dylan Quinlan, one of the heroes of the semi-final battled manfully all afternoon and was rewarded for his efforts with a fine first half point. His partner in the full forward line, Cormac Foy, caused problems for the Moyne defence all day long with his workrate and ability to make time and space into dimensions that suit himself. It seems the clock in Foy’s head is set two seconds ahead of everyone else’s which makes him one of those players with that unique ability of always looking like he knows what he is doing when on the ball.
When Derek O’Mahony signalled full stop all heaven broke loose as Brackens supporters rushed to greet their heroes. The management team of Tadhg Sheedy, Anthony Marnell, James Farrelly, Neil Quinlan and Anthony Shelley might never enjoy a better day patrolling the sidelines than they had last Saturday.
As I walked from the field in Cashel, I overheard a Brackens supporter saying that the future of football in the club was bright. It was hard to disagree!

J.K.Brackens: Cian Sheedy, Tommy Burke, Niall Delaney, Kieran Martin, Cian Broderick, Josh Quinlan, Tom Corcoran, Dayle Hogan, Sean Purcell, Billy Collier, Jamie Ormond, Padraic O’Shea, Cormac Foy, Ciaran O’Shea, Dylan Quinlan.
Subs: Dan Coffey, Robert Lee, Joseph Foy, David Prout, VJ Corpez, Jack Burke, Aodhna Barrett, Billy Finn, Jeffrey Myles. Jack Marnell, Cormac Bourke, Sean Stone, Sean Walsh.
Moyne-Templetouhy: Kevin Ryan, Jimmy Campion, Sean Lyons, Jack Reddan, James McBrearty, David Doyle, John Cleere, Cathal Guilfoyle, Eoghan Sumner, Ben Moore, Chris Dunne, Leo Cleere, Paul Maher, Finn Jones, Conor Campion:
Subs: Frank Doyle, Cody Doyle, Andrew Everard.

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