Tipperary 'keeper Michael O'Reilly fists clear in Thurles
When Tipperary pulled off a shock win over Donegal in the third round of games in the Allianz League Division Two on Sunday in Thurles, they were helped by a goalkeeper who has Donegal blood flowing through his veins.
Michael O'Reilly of Clonmel Commercials was selected to start his first ever game in goal for Tipperary on Sunday last after their regular 'keeper Evan Comerford picked up an injury in the previous week's game against Fermanagh.
O'Reilly's grandmother, Kathleen (Cissie) O'Reilly was originally Cleary from Ballyshannon. Kathleen passed away in her 96th year around three weeks ago in Clonmel. She was the last surviving member of the well-known family; she was predeceased by her brothers Seamus and Tommy.
On Sunday last young Michael O'Reilly was following in the family tradition of being the goalkeeper on the team. The late Seamus Cleary was a renowned goalkeeper with Ballyshannon and Donegal, while his cousin, Thomas Cleary, better known around Ballyshannon as 'Lucky', was the goalkeeper on the Donegal minor team in 1980 and was on the De La Salle team that won an All-Ireland title that same year.
Amazingly, his cousins in Ballyshannon were not aware that he was playing for Tipperary on Sunday last!
Michael's elevation to first choice on Sunday coincided with Tipperary's first win over Donegal since 1981 and he was one of the Tipp heroes, saving a first half penalty from Jamie Brennan, which drew great praise from his manager, Liam Kearns.
"I want to give special mention to Michael O'Reilly, playing in his first game, making his debut, saving a penalty and his kick-outs were excellent.
"I thought he did a great job in goals and that was a huge boost to all the other players. He's got to get a special mention really," said Kearns.