Pictures: Chris Egan
AIB All-Ireland Club JFC Quarter-final
TEMPLENOE (Kerry) 2-08
JOHN MITCHELS (Liverpool) 0-06
THERE were some tell-tale signs dotted around Pairc na hÉireann on Sunday as John Mitchels faced Kerry and Munster champions Templenoe in the All-Ireland Junior Club Championship.
The sign declaring ‘Temple Knows Best’ was one; the other was the team sheet containing four Spillanes, including a Pat on the subs bench. Admittedly it wasn’t that Pat Spillane, he had donned a blue woolly hat in among the hundreds of travellers across from the Kingdom, but his nephew Killian looked to have inherited some of those famous genes as he orchestrated an impressive eight-point victory.
For Mitchels it was another challenge of the toughest nature, having come up against Brosna in last season’s All-Ireland final they were similarly up against it in Sunday’s quarter-final against another Kerry club. They made a fine start, Paddy Mulligan creating enough space to curl a thirty-metre strike over the bar and when Paraic McGuirk emphatically stood his ground against an incoming Cian Hallissey, Templenoe knew they were in a game.
With the main pitch at Warwickshire headquarters passing a late pitch inspection hours before throw-in, conditions underfoot remained understandably difficult. To that end, it was Templenoe who adapted the better in the first-half and with their midfield duo of Sean Sheehan and Adrian Spillane prominent they were able to take a grip on proceedings and forge a seven-point lead by the interval.
The Munster champions hit back with a sweetly-struck curler from Stephen O’Sullivan before Killian Spillane edged them ahead with a close range free. An excellent point from the left by Sheehan and a second Spillane free extended that lead as Templenoe went increasingly direct, their long balls into the goal mouth causing trouble for Matty Deaney and the Mitchels’ full-back line.
One such diagonal across the face of goal needed a strong block from Deaney to keep out O’Sullivan’s goal-bound flick, but the building pressure eventually told when Danny Cahalane slipped Spillane into the breach where the corner-forward slotted home into the far corner of the net. Mitchels looked to hit back before the half-time whistle and when Michael Higgins slipped free of his marker to charge in from the right a goal chance materialised only for a timely Tadhg Morley block on the goal line to keep his goal-bound strike at bay.
Things took a turn for the worse for Mitchels in the opening minutes of the second-half, though. During a lengthy stoppage for an injury five minutes in, an off-the-ball tussle resulted in referee Niall Cullen showing Higgins a straight red card.
Down to fourteen, the challenge facing Mitchels became much more difficult, and the extra man advantage told as Templenoe struck the back of the net for a second time.
A direct move through the heart of the Liverpool defence saw the ball squared across the face of goal where O’Sullivan tapped home for the simplest of finishes. Two further points from Cian Hallissey and Brian Crowley nullified a couple of Mulligan frees at the other end, yet despite a more attack-minded Mitchels in the second-half there was no way back, Templenoe shutting the door in the final quarter to restrict their opponents to set piece scores only.
That Templenoe conceded twenty-eight frees – almost one every two minutes at the cost of only one yellow card – will have been a disappointment for Mitchels but the damage had been done by this stage.
With the clock winding down in the final moments, one final surge forward from substitute Pat Spillane released Josh Holland, who struck sweetly over the bar from thirty metres out, bringing the curtain down on a satisfying afternoon for the huge travelling support.
Mitchels continue to be the benchmark for football in Britain at this level, but Sunday will feel another disappointment as they continue to strive for All-Ireland success. On this occasion at least that sign turned out to be right, Templenoe did know best.
GAME AT A GLANCE
Man of the match: Killian Spillane (Templenoe) – Pat Spillane’s nephew was the architect of Mitchels’ downfall, with his crucial first-half goal putting daylight between the teams.
Score of the match: A sweet strike over the bar from out on the left by Sean Sheehan was the pick of the points, the midfielder played into space from a neat Brian Crowley pass.
Turning point: Templenoe tightened their grip as the first-half wore on, but Spillane’s goal before half-time was a major moment for the Kerry men.
Wides: Templenoe (2) 5, John Mitchels (1) 1.
Frees for: Templenoe (13) 18, John Mitchels (16) 28.
Yellow Cards: Templenoe 1 (Danny Cahalane 39); John Mitchels 1(David McTeggart 45).
Red Cards: Templenoe 0; John Mitchels 1 (Michael Higgins 35).
Templenoe: K Spillane (1-3, 2f); S O’Sullivan (1-1); S Sheehan (0-1); C Hallissey (0-1); B Crowley (0-1); J Holland (0-1).
John Mitchels: P Mulligan (0-6, 5f).
John Mitchels: M Deaney; J O’Hagan, D McTeggart, N McShane; M Carey, P McGuirk, S Rice; R Sharvin, D O’Neill; M Higgins, F Cassidy, C Owen; J McDermott, E Jackson, P Mulligan. Subs: A Kearney (for McShane 30); C Murphy (for Jackson 37); A McCartan (for McDermott 37), A Murray (for Carey 56).
Templenoe: A Sheehan; K O’Neill, T Morley, M Hallissey; P Clifford, J Spillane, G Crowley; S Sheehan, A Spillane; B Crowley, C Hallissey, D Cahalane; K Spillane, T Doyle, S O’Sullivan. Subs: J Holland (for M Hallissey 48); S Cremin (for Doyle 55); J Rice (for G Crowley 55).
Referee: N Cullen (Fermanagh)