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Loughmore-Castleiney seal remarkable Tipp hurling and football double

A week after winning the county’s senior football title, the club has repeated the achievement in hurling.

brian-mcgrath-scores-a-goal-despite-darragh-stakelum Brian McGrath scores a goal for Loughmore-Castleiney despite the efforts of Darragh Stakelum. Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

Loughmore-Castleiney 2-14
Thurles Sarsfields 2-13

Kevin O’Brien reports from Semple Stadium

LOUGHMORE-CASTLEINEY HAVE completed another remarkable Tipperary senior double after beating Thurles Sarsfields in a dramatic hurling replay.

It’s the second time Loughmore-Castleiney have achieved the feat, following their success in 2013. It was made all the sweeter following their defeats in both of last year’s senior deciders.

They were underdogs in both finals this year, having defeated Clonmel Commercials in the football last weekend before today’s replay defeat of Thurles Sarsfields, who were last crowned champions in 2017.

John McGrath’s stoppage-time free proved the winner. Fittingly, he was also the man in possession when the long whistle sounded moments later after a ruck involving almost 20 players, as Thurles chased a late equaliser.

McGrath finished with a seven-point haul, while his namesake Liam and brother Brian scored crucial second-half goals to propel them to victory.

Thurles led by three at half-time but were outscored 1-5 to 0-1 in the six minutes after the break. They did hit the net twice in the second period but nine second-half wides proved costly as their attack stuttered.

Had Loughmore-Castleiney taken their chances in the opening period, they’d have been ahead at the interval instead of three behind. They shot 12 first-half wides and took until the 21st minute to register a score from play.

Thurles raced 6-2 ahead by the first water break, with Denis Maher and Pa Bourke in fine form up front. When Thurles delivered accurate ball into that pair, they were unmarkable at times.

Sarsfields did miss an early goal chance when Denis Maher set-up Michael Cahill, but his ground strike went narrowly wide. At the far end, Loughmore-Castleiney had goal chances of their own as they saw Ed Connolly and John McGrath shoot narrowly wide.

Bourke, feeding brilliantly off Denis Maher, brought his opening-half tally to 0-4 with a fine strike near the sideline. That sent Thurles four clear, but a fine Noel McGrath effort left Loughmore-Castleiney 0-9 to 0-6 behind at the break.

Within five minutes of the restart, Loughmore-Castleiney hauled themselves level through John McGrath, half-time sub Evan Sweeney and John Meagher. During the same period, Thurles were guilty of four misses that only served to add to the Loughmore-Castleiney confidence levels.

That belief grew further when wing-back Brian McGrath ventured forward to rattle the back of the net after the Thurles defence failed to deal with a fairly routine ball inside.

A tally of 1-5 in the five minutes after the restart fired Loughmore-Castleiney into a stunning four-point lead. Thurles had seven second-half wides to their name before Denis Maher was set up by Conor Stakelum for a critical goal on the stroke of the second water break.

Paddy McCormack made a fine save to deny Noel McGrath a three-pointer and a minute later he likewise batted down an effort from Liam McGrath. On this occasion, however, the centre-forward batted home the rebound to push his side 2-12 to 1-11 clear.

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Loughmore-Castleiney were defending resolutely until a miscued short free by Aidan McGrath was intercepted by Conor Stakelum. He burst forward and laid it into Darragh Stakelum for a goal that brought Sarsfields back into the contest.

Ronan Maher levelled the game in the 58th minute with a free on his own 65, setting up a tense finale. However, his brother Padraic fouled county team-mate John McGrath near the sideline and the ace forward dispatched the winning score from a narrow angle.

Scorers for Loughmore-Castleiney: John McGrath 0-7 (0-4f, 0-1 65), Liam McGrath and Brian McGrath 1-0 each, Noel McGrath, Ciaran Connolly, Tomás McGrath, John Meagher, Ciaran McCormack 0-1 each.

Scorers for Thurles Sarsfields: Denis Maher 1-2, Pa Bourke 0-4, Aidan McCormack 0-3 (0-1f), Ronan Maher 0-2 (0-1f), Darragh Stakelum 1-0, Seanie Butler and David Corbett 0-1 each.

Loughmore-Castleiney

  • 1. Aidan McGrath
  • 4. Lorcan Egan
  • 3. Joseph Hennessy
  • 2. Willie Eviston
  • 5. Tommy Maher
  • 6. John Meagher
  • 7. Brian McGrath
  • 8. Ciaran Connolly
  • 9. Tomas McGrath
  • 10. Liam Treacy
  • 11. Liam McGrath
  • 12. Noel McGrath
  • 13. Ed Connolly
  • 20. Ciaran McGrath
  • 15. John McGrath

Subs

  • 14. Evan Sweeney for Connolly (HT)
  • 19. Ciaran McCormack for Treacy (46)
  • 17. John Ryan for Tommy Maher (58)
  • 18. Conor McGrath for Tomás McGrath (62)

Thurles Sarsfields

  • 1. Paddy McCormack
  • 2. Paul Maher
  • 3. Padraic Maher
  • 4. Seosamh Ryan
  • 5. David Corbett
  • 6. Ronan Maher
  • 7. Jack Derby
  • 8. Stephen Cahill
  • 9. Michael Cahill
  • 10. Darragh Stakelum
  • 26. Billy McCarthy
  • 12. Aidan McCormack
  • 13. Pa Bourke
  • 14. Denis Maher
  • 15. Paddy Creedon

Subs

  • 19. Kieran Moloney for Stephen Cahill (42)
  • 11. Conor Stakelum for Creedom (46)
  • 21. Seanie Butler for McCormack (52)
  • 20. Eoin Purcell for Darragh Stakelum (62)

Referee: John McCormack (Knockavilla/Donaskeigh Kickhams)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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