Stradbally edge Waterford football final in extra-time

Covesiders clinched a record-equalling 19th senior title after with win over The Nire

Stradbally won the Waterford football final at Fraher Field on Sunday. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

Stradbally won the Waterford football final at Fraher Field on Sunday. Photograph: Ken Sutton/Inpho

 

Stradbally 1-15 The Nire 1-14 (AET)

Two hundred and twelve days after the first ball was thrown in to convene this year’s Waterford senior football championship, Stradbally finally emerged as champions when seeing off holders The Nire after a gripping contest at Fraher Field.

With the gate receipts coming in at just under €10,000, and in positively balmy conditions, the Covesiders clinched a record-equalling 19th senior title after extra time, despite trailing by six points after 14 minutes and by four with just 13 minutes remaining.

In fact, they didn’t lead the Conway Cup decider until Jack Mullaney’s fine effort sailed high and between the posts in the opening moments of extra-time.

In their fifth championship outing in 21 days, The Nire were left to rue their failure to capitalise on their offensive dominance in the additional 20 minutes, scoring only once from the eight opportunities they created.

The holders roared out the blocks and led by 1-4 to 0-1 inside the opening quarter, with Tom Barron’s powerful run and finish sending them six points clear and on the brink of leaving Stradbally biting dust.

But the men in red never panicked, and a backroom team bolstered by the addition of former Wexford and Kildare manager Jason Ryan extolled patience.

And when youngster Ger Crowley coolly tucked the ball into The Nire net following an incisive Daniel Weldon pass, the challengers commendably hauled themselves back into contention.

The Nire finished the half the stronger, landing the final three points to lead by 1-8 to 1-5, and had extended that to four points by the 47th minute, largely due to the finishing ability of Conor Gleeson and Shane Walsh.

But Stradbally roared back to life in the closing quarter, as an Eoin O’Brien brace, and roof-lifting efforts from Shane Aherne and Michael ‘Brick’ Walsh brought then within a point of The Nire with two minutes remaining. And they drew level with less than 90 seconds on the clock through Daniel Weldon, sending the game into extra-time.

Stradbally’s doggedness saw them edge through from there with points from Mullaney and a Robert Aherne free, with Nire goalkeeper Diarmuid Murphy’s stoppage time free sailing inches wide at the end of a breathless encounter.

Stradbally: E Cunningham; Ciaran Cusack, K Lawlor, J Mullaney (0-1); T Grey, S Lannon, L Casey; M Walsh (0-1), Shane Aherne (0-2); G Crowley (1-0), N Connors, D Weldon (0-2); M Sweeney (0-1), R Aherne (0-3; 0-2f), E O’Brien (0-4; 0-1f).

Subs: T Connors (0-1) for N Connors (HT), A Doyle for L Casey (Black Card, 47), G Power for G Crowley (49), S Keane for M Sweeney (56), Cathal Cusack for D Weldon (68), G Crowley for E O’Brien (HT, ET), K Coffey for J Mullaney (81)

The Nire: D Murphy (0-1f); J Walsh, T O’Gorman, M Moore; D Ryan (0-1), S Ryan, D Guiry; J McGrath, T Guiry; S Lawlor, C Gleeson (0-8; 0-5f), D Guiry; T Barron (1-1), C Guiry, S Walsh (0-3).

Subs: J Mulcahy for S Lawlor (44), M O’Gorman for McGrath, S O’Meara for T Guiry (55), S Ryan for C Guiry (61), J McGrath for S Ryan (HT, ET), S Lawlor for Michael O’Gorman (76), K Brazil for T Barron (78).

Referee: Anthony Fitzgerald.

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