Clonmel's 'talented bunch' put Commercials in business
Young guns fulfil potential on special day for Tipp
Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30
"If I live to 100 - and I won't - I'll never, ever experience again a day like September 18 last year when Tipperary won the minor All-Ireland football title . . . The only thing that might top it is if Commercials can win in Munster."
- Clonmel Commercials clubman
Ned Brophy, speaking in 2012
Those were the words of Ned Brophy back in 2012 when he was chairman of Clonmel Commercials.
The 2011 All-Ireland minor final win is the high water mark for Tipp football in recent times but it was particularly special for Commercials. They had seven on the panel that day, including six on the field for the last 12 minutes when they overturned Dublin.
The passing of time has only made that feat look more impressive. Some of the Dublin players from that day have already collected two All-Ireland senior medals, including recently-crowned Footballer of the Year Jack McCaffrey.
Clonmel's Colman Kennedy made a telling impact that day when he lashed to the net late on. It was an audacious effort as his side trailed by one and a point seemed the easier option.
On Sunday, Michael Quinlivan, who also played in 2011, pulled his own rabbit out of the hat. Before that, Clonmel looked finished. He didn't agree.
"It's never done with us," he said afterwards.
They've something of a habit of pulling it out late down there. The High School in Clonmel won an All-Ireland 'B' title in 2010. Jamie Peters, Aldo Matassa and Quinlivan were on that team. In that final, they trailed going into the final quarter. Once more, they found a way to win.
They had always been a talented bunch. Our picture shows Seamus and Colman Kennedy, Michael Quinlivan and Ian Fahey with prolific League of Ireland striker and two-time capped Republic of Ireland player Jason Byrne.
Even as U-12s, they had hinted at their bright future when, as part of Clonmel Town, they won the right to represent Ireland in the Danone Nations Cup in 2005 in Lyon.
As it would turn out, Clonmel would return to the competition as Irish representatives the following year.
Such talent brings admirers from all corners. A year after winning the All-Ireland minor, Michael Quinlivan was handed his championship debut against Kerry by then Tipp manager John Evans.
Colman Kennedy was offered a scholarship with Cork City and isn't available to the club now as he is playing soccer in Philadelphia. Seamus Kennedy is a talented dual player but will play for the county's hurlers next year.
There are others too. Jack Kennedy was man of the match as 14-man Tipperary beat Kildare to reach an All-Ireland minor final this year. Jason Lonergan, Kevin Fahey and Padraig Looram were part of the U-21 team that lost this year's All-Ireland U-21 final.
And the list of winners keeps growing behind them. In recent years, the club won five U-16 titles on the bounce.
And this year they are two wins away from a sixth consecutive minor title. Before the current run, no Tipperary team had managed to win three minor titles on the bounce.
And they have been moulded in with the senior players like captain Kevin Harney, Fergal Condon and Ian Barnes to create a team good enough to make history. They're not done yet either. They now face London champions Tir Chonaill Gaels in an All-Ireland quarter-final in a fortnight's time.
"They were always a talented bunch at loads of things," Brophy says now. "And we were lucky that we have had a few years where really good lads came along within a couple of years of each other.
"But it wasn't just talent that got them here. There was loads of work put into the club in the last ten or 15 years. And when it came to choosing a sport, they stuck with the football, thank God.
"We were hopeful going into the Munster final," Brophy continued. "Maybe more hopeful than we had a right to be. But they are a special bunch. We were six points down twice in the county final. Against Newcastlewest we were four down with four or five minutes but they keep coming back."
This could mean big things for Tipperary too, Brophy maintains.
"I'd say the likes of Michael Quinlivan, he can realistically look now at winning a Munster title in his career if things go well for Tipperary."
Only one question to ask. Did last Sunday's drama top the feeling of the 2011 success?
"One of the first things one of the players said to me was: 'This is better than 2011' .
"And sure, it had to be."