Pictures: Malcolm McNally
TIR CHONAILL GAELS 0-09
CLONMEL COMMERCIALS 2-12
MUNSTER champions Clonmel Commercials are through to the semi-finals of the AIB All-Ireland Club Championship after beating Tir Chonaill Gaels in difficult conditions at the Irish TV Grounds in Ruislip on Saturday.
The AIB Man of the Match was centre half-back Seamus Kennedy, who was vital in Clonmel's victory, working hard on and off the ball and adding a point to his side's tally.
Playing against a fierce wind in the opening half, Clonmel got the first score of the game through Padraig White – although he took a suspicious amount of steps before shooting – but the Gaels equalised a couple of minutes later through a free from Seamus Friel.
Michael Quinlivan – who would go on to be black carded – was instrumental for the Tipperary side early on, winning frees and possession in the aerial battles. He registered his first and only point on eight minutes, tipping over from close range.
Then, for a sustained period of the first-half, both teams traded points consistently as Tir Chonaill Gaels began to find their rhythm, with Marty McCoy answering a close-range Seamus Kennedy point with a belter from wide right.
Jason Lonergan took advantage of a poor short free from TCG to slot over, but Adrian Hanlon replied for the hosts with a sublime effort, using the wind to swerve a point over with the outside of his boot, taking the score to 0-5 to 0-3 in Clonmel's favour.
However, Clonmel soon gave themselves extra breathing space by going five points up when Ian Fahey fired home past Declan Traynor in the TCG goal in the 23rd minute.
Although they were in control, Clonmel suffered a double setback late in the first-half when Aldo Matassa and Michael Quinlivan received black cards, in between a powerful point from Cathal Magee for TCG.
Indeed, Barney Breen's men hit three unanswered points before half-time to trail by 1-5 to 0-6 at the break, leaving the game in the balance with just two points in it.
Clonmel raced out of the blocks in the second-half and scored their second goal of the game 15 seconds into the re-start when substitute Padraig Looram thumped the ball into the top corner of the goal past a helpless Traynor, an unstoppable strike.
White added a free to Clonmel's tally and the Gaels found themselves digging a bigger hole to climb out of when Adam Askin was dismissed on 34 minutes, receiving a black card after previously receiving a yellow card in the first-half.
Clonmel could then begin to kill the game as they sat back and counter attacked the Gaels with their frightening pace going forward.
Nonetheless, TCG refused to give up despite not managing a score in the first ten minutes of the second-half. But midfielders Mark Gottsche and Liam Gavigan were having fine games, with the latter adding to the TCG score with vital points.
But Clonmel were not going to let their performance slip, scoring three points in quick succession and without a response, with Fahey getting in on the act as the full time whistle edged closer.
In the dying minutes TCG`S Ronan Breen was also black carded and Gavigan had his shot saved by Clonmel keeper Jake McDonald, which ended any hopes of TCG getting back into the game.
Gottsche added a fine free against the wind, but ultimately TCG will rue a number of wides and their inability to take advantage of the gale behind them in the first-half.
Still, no London side has made it past the quarter final stage in this competition, despite the Gaels giving it everything they had.
Clonmel Commercials will go on to play Ballyboden St Enda's on February 13, with the winner of that clash making the trip to Croke Park for the final on St Patrick's day in 2016.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Man of the Match: Seamus Kennedy. The Clonmels half-back was at the thick of the action down the centre of each third of the pitch.
Score of the Match: Padraig Looram's superb strike was not only one for the cameras, but the goal also knocked the life out of TCG at the very start of the second-half.
Clonmel Commercials: J McDonald; F Condon, D Lynch, J Peters; I Barnes (0-01), S Kennedy (0-01), K Fahey; J Kennedy (0-1), A Matassa; L Moore, I Fahey (1-01), J Lonergan (0-03); K Harney, M Quinlivan (0-01), P White (0-03).
Subs: P Looram (1-00) for Matassa (25, black card), N Kelly (0-01) for Quinlivan (30, black card), E Fitzgerald for Barnes (44), D Madigan for Looram (50), R Peters for Fahey (56).
Tir Chonaill Gaels: D Traynor; P Butler, R Breen, B Atarnsey; G Magee, E McConville, M McCoy (0-01); M Gottsche (0-01), L Gavaghan (0-02); A Askin, C Magee (0-01), N Boyle; A McDermott, S Friel (0-02), A Hanlon (0-02).
Subs: B Collins for McAtarnsey (20), B Ross for G Magee (44), B Duddy for Hanlon (47), J McGrath for Breen (57)
Referee: P Neilan (Roscommon)