IN a battle akin to the era of the high kings in ancient Ireland, Dromcollogher-Broadford survived a flurry of attacks on their land in the closing minutes at the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday to capture the senior provincial crown for the first time and now await the winners of the Crossmaglen v Ballinderry Ulster replay.
Drom are the newbies to the crown having entered the senior ranks just eight years ago on winning the Limerick intermediate title in 1999.
But at their first crack of the whip, the county Limerick side won their first title in a low-scoring game against 2004 winners, Kilmurry-Ibrickane. The signs were ominous for the county Clare side, veterans to the occassion when their captain Shane Hickey was dismissed from the field of play for a second bookable offence with two extra minutes played. But the drama would not end there as there was still time for more additions to this tale as Kilmurry-Ibrickane were awarded a free-kick on the 20-metre line, close to the Mackey Stand touchline. Mark McCarthy stepped up and saw his effort drift across the face of goal and referee Mangan then whistled for full-time, sparking delirious scenes amongst the Drom-Broadford support in the 3,214 attendance.
Kilmurry-Ibrickane will rue a tally of nine wides, compared to just one from the winners, and the Banner County’s representatives should have been ahead at half-time having spurned a number of first-half chances.
Instead, Drom-Broadford were level at 0-3 apiece and a much-improved second-half performance proved good enough as they became the first Limerick team since Thomond College in 1977 to capture this Munster title.
Having taken the scalp of Nemo Rangers in the semi-finals in another low-scoring encounter won by 0-7 to 0-6, Drom-Broadford managed just two points from play during the final but still emerged as worthy winners.
In fact, of the 11 points registered by both sides during the game, seven of those were frees and Derry McCarthy’s effort after 31 minutes was the only score from play during the first half.
The referee playeda major role in the events that unfolded in the Gaelic Grounds having dished out six yellow cards — including the double-award for Hickey — during a hard-hitting encounter which never threatened to boil over despite tricky playing conditions.
The pitch was icy in patches along the touchline but generally solid and in contrast to last weekend’s provincial hurling final, it was noticeable that not many players lost their footing during the course of the match.
A dicey first half was to thrill the crowd for more of game’s footballing mishaps than anything else, but just five minutes after the restart, Limerick senior Seanie Buckley kicked the score of the game from 45 metres and Drom-Broadford went two clear when Donnelly kicked his second free to open up a 0-5 to 0-3 lead.
The game was set up for a frantic finish but the Limerick men would hold out to take the spoils on the day and Drom-Broadford will now meet Ulster champions Crossmaglen Rangers or Ballinderry in next February’s All-Ireland semi-final.