A.J. the toast of Newcastle West as 5th title goes to the county town in the senior football championship final

County Football Chairman Gerry Phillips and sponsor Paddy Mulvihill presenting the IWP cup to Newcastle West captain Iain Corbett. – Photo Den O’Brien. – County Senior Football Final Newcastle West v Adare

NEWCASTLE WEST…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….1-8
A J. O’Connor imprinted his name on the annals of Newcastle West football forever when he blasted the ball to the Adare net in the 56th minute of a disappointing Limerick Senior Football Championship final at TUS Gaelic Grounds.
O’Connor, who had joined the fray midway through the second half got on the end of the best move of the match and guided the ball past Adare netminder, Brendan Carmody. At that point Newcastle West just had their noses in front 0-6 to 0-5 and the outcome was on a knife edge. Two minutes after raising green O’Connor raised white to absolutely seal the deal and confirm the dethronement of the three times champions in the last four years.
It was the start of a momentous and memorable 24 hours for the talented O’Connor who on Saturday morning made a mad dash to Tallaght Stadium where he captained Fairview Rangers to F.A.I. President’s Cup victory over Willowbank of Belfast.
It was a most disappointing final as these great rivals showed far too much respect for each other for the first 45 minutes. Whatever Jimmy Lee and his coaching team said at the second water break had the desired effect as right from the restart, Newcastle West looked up for it and visibly upped the intensity and work rate. With the fresh legs of Diarmuid Kelly and A.J. O’Connor bringing fresh energy, they put the champions on the back foot and the decisive goal was nothing more than the product of the men in black and white’s determination to take the Fr. Casey Cup back to the county town for a second time in three years.
Adare named Robbie Bourke for midfield duties but from the start he was deployed to the full back role in a bid to contain the activities of the towering Mike McMahon. At the other end of the field, Newcastle West dealt very confidently with the threat posed by Bourke’s brother, Hugh.
In the middle third there were huge performances from Cian Sheehan, Newcastle West and Ronan Connolly, the latter on the eve of taking flight for a well-earned sun holiday with Limerick senior hurlers.
Both sides appeared hamstrung by fear of failure and that mindset contributed to a very disappointing final. The teams were littered with big name and big game players but on an evening that was not exactly ideal for football due to the torrential rain in the hours leading up to the throw in, they just did not get good not get into any level of rhythm.
Scores were at a premium before the first water break with the first score of the game coming from distance from Cían Sheehan after 11 minutes, Hugh Bourke from a free replied two minutes later and that is how it remained at the first refreshments break.
Hugh Bourke’s second free eased the champions in front for the first time but Jimmy lee’s men hit back with two from play courtesy of Mike McMahon and Shane Stack.
Hugh Bourke’s third from a free ensured the sides were deadlocked 0-3 apiece as they trooped off for the half time team talks.
The scoring rate did not accelerate after the respective team talks, Eoin Hurley for Newcastle West and Eoghan Costello for Adare adding points, 0-4 apiece at the second water break.
A fine point from Diarmuid Kelly broke the deadlock on 51 minutes and Eoin Hurley doubled the lead three minutes later. After a sweeping move up field Davy Lyons was unlucky to see his powerful drive on the run skim over rather than under the bar and the gap was back to the minimum.
Two minutes later, Newcastle West took the giant leap that saw them get their hands on the Fr. Casey Cup when a well-engineered move culminated with A.J. O’Connor slotting home the crucial goal and when he quickly added a point, the door was shut on a champions’ recovery.
Mike McMahon’s second of the game in time added on was the icing on the cake as Newcastle West finished on top and Iain Corbett forcing a late smart save from Brendan Carmody.
Scorers: Newcastle West: A.J. O’Connor 1-1; Mike McMahon, Eoin Hurley 1 mark, 0-2 each; Cian Sheehan, Shane Stack, Diarmuid Kelly 0-1 each.
Adare: Hugh Bourke 0-3, 3fs; Eoghan Costello, Davy Lyons 0-1 each.
Newcastle West: Andrew Ruddle; Michael O’Keeffe, Darren O’Doherty, Brian O’Sullivan; Eoin Murphy, James Kelly, Séamus Hurley; Cian Sheehan, Iain Corbett (Captain); Seán Murphy, Shane Stack, Brian Hurley; Bryan Nix, Mike McMahon, Eoin Hurley.
Subs: Diarmuid Kelly for Seán Murphy (41), A.J. O’Connor for Brian Hurley (41), Steven Brosnan for James Kelly (48), Donnacha Woods for Shane Stack (57), Lee Woulfe for Eoin Hurley (60+1).
Adare: Brendan Carmody, David Connolly, Robbie Bourke, Oran Collins Eoghan Costelloe, Shane Doherty (Captain), Garrett Sparling; Paul Maher, Ronan Connolly; Roy Gleeson, Shane Costelloe, Eoin Ryan; Davy Lyons, Hugh Bourke, Mark Connolly.
Subs: Jack English for Roy Gleeson (HT), Mikey Lyons for Garrett Sparling (HT), Shane O’Connor for mark Connolly (45), Charlie McCarthy for Shane Costello (54), Aodhán O’Connor for Paul Maher (59).
Referee: Jonathon Hayes, St. Senan’s.