Courceys Rovers into Munster final after a thriller at the Gaelic Grounds

It took extra time to see off Mungret St Paul's after a hard-hitting AIB Munster IHC semi-final
Courceys Rovers into Munster final after a thriller at the Gaelic Grounds

Jerry O'Neill, Courcey Rovers , controlling the sliotar against Rory Duff, Mungret St Paul's in the Munster semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

Courcey Rovers 1-18 Mungret St Pauls 1-17 (AET)

IT may have taken extra time to separate these two but any neutral present would certainly have enjoyed the 80-plus minutes of entertainment served up at the Gaelic Grounds.

While it was close for most of the afternoon overall Courcey Rovers were deserving winners as they finished the game strongly to advance to the AIB Munster IHC final. They had heroes all over the pitch with Sean Twomey, Ronan Nyhan outstanding up front. In defence Brian Collins was a rock at full-back, with Martin Collins also working hard all through,

But it literally wasn't until the final whistle went that they were safe in the knowledge they were through after a very late goal had their lead down to one point. But they hung on and deservedly advance to the Munster decider.

They got off to the perfect start when Twomey found the back of the net with their first attack, having been played through by Tadhg O'Sullivan, followed by a Ronan Nyhan point.

Sean Twomey, Courcey Rovers, takes on Ronan Kirby, Mungret St Paul's,  in the Munster semi-final. Picture: Brendan Gleeson
Sean Twomey, Courcey Rovers, takes on Ronan Kirby, Mungret St Paul's,  in the Munster semi-final. Picture: Brendan Gleeson

A superb sideline point from a tight angle by Paul O'Brien got Mungret off the mark. Rory Duff pulled another point back, before their keeper Conor O'Brien pulled off a magnificent double save, denying Twomey and Nyhan.

Richard Sweetnam hit two in a row, with O'Brien raising a white flag at the other end, while O'Sullivan, Twomey and keeper Stephen Nyhan, using the strong wind, made it 1-6 to 0-4.

Mungret upped their game after the water break, with points from Conor Hellewell and Brian Barry. Nyhan landed another long distance free with Sweetnam adding another close-in and it was 1-9 to 0-7 at half-time.

The wind was a factor on the resumption, O'Brien, trimming the lead to three points at the second water break, 1-12 to 0-12, and all to play for in the last 13 minutes.

Scores were few and far between in the final quarter before Brian Barry made it a two-point game with three minutes of normal time to go.

Duff added another white flag from the restart and now there was only one between the sides. Twomey put two between the sides again, before Niall Mulcahy pointed in the last minute, to make it 0-15 to 1-13.

O'Brien had an opportunity to equalise from a free but his effort went wide, the first he missed all afternoon.

Five minutes into injury-time, despite the referee indicating four, he had another opportunity to level and this time he made no mistake.

Both sides were visibly tired and thus guilty of missing some relatively easy scoring chances before Aidan O'Donovan pointed for Courceys. Mulcahy replied at the other end to see them still level, 1-14 to 0-17, at half-time in extra-time.

Courceys took over in the second half of extra-time with O'Donovan putting them in front, before two from John McCarthy put them three points to the good and they looked like they were out of sight.

A late point from Jerry O'Neill proved vital as Mungret got a late goal from Chams Jagana. But a few seconds later the final whistle went and Courceys could start celebrating.

Scorers for Courcey Rovers: S Twomey 1-2, R Sweetnam 0-4 (0-3 f), J O'Neill 0-3, R Nyhan, S Nyhan (f), J McCarthy, A O'Donovan 0-2 each, T O'Sullivan 0-1.

Mungret St Paul's: P O'Brien 0-7 (5 f, 0-1 sl), C Jagana 1-0, N Mulcahy, B Barry 0-3 each, R Duff 0-2, C Hellewell, C O'Brien 0-1 each.

COURCEY ROVERS: S Nyhan; K Collins, B Collins B Mulcahy; O Crowley, F Lordan, S McCarthy; C Roche, M Collins; T O'Sullivan, S Twomey, J O'Neill; R Nyhan, R Sweetnam, L Collins.

Subs: A O'Donovan for R Nyhan (39), J McCarthy for O Crowley (50), M O'Donovan for J O'Neill (54), DJ Twomey for L Collins (60), D Coghlan for S McCarthy (ET), B Ryan for T O'Sullivan (70),

MUNGRET St PAUL'S: C O'Brien; L Harrington, R Kirby, B Duff; M O'Sullivan, P Begley, E O'Doherty; C Hellewell, R Duff; C O'Brien, B O'Meara, B Barry; P O'Brien, N Mulcahy, C Lenihan.

Subs: C Flahive for M O'Sullivan (14), M Mullins for C Lenihan (h-t), D O'Hagan for C Flahive (45), M O'Sullivan for R Kirby (54), B Molyneaux for N Mulcahy (ET), B Barry for B Molyneaux (h-t in ET), C Jagana for C O'Brien (73).

Referee: Joe Mullins, Clare.

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