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McGrath factor is key for Loughmore as they book Tipp senior hurling semi-final spot

They join Kiladangan and Nenagh Éire Óg in the semi-finals.

John McGrath was top scorer for Loughmore today with 0-9.
John McGrath was top scorer for Loughmore today with 0-9.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Loughmore-Castleiney 2-21
Clonoulty-Rossmore 0-20

PREDICTABLY IT WAS the McGrath scoring influence that propelled Loughmore-Castleiney into the Tipperary senior hurling semi-finals today, yet it was not one of their current county stars that provided the most critical moments.

Ciaran McGrath pounced for two impressive second-half goals, the only green flags raised in the game, and it was those strikes that were central in helping Loughmore, who trailed 0-13 to 0-12 at the interval, forge ahead and have seven points to spare over 2018 champions Clonoulty-Rossmore by the final whistle.

The goals were well-taken, the first slammed to the roof of the net three minutes after the interval with Evan Sweeney’s foraging proving pivotal. Then the second arrived for Loughmore on the cusp of the second water break, Ciaran McGrath profiting from the vision of Conor McGrath who lobbed in a cross. The creator of that added a point and Loughmore had inserted daylight between the teams on the scoreboard, 2-16 to 0-15 to the good.

Loughmore’s big names also chipped in with scoring contributions. The All-Ireland winning brothers – John (0-9), Noel (0-2) and Brian (0-2) – were all in good point-scoring form. That was reflective of Loughmore’s output, a healthy balance with ten different players splitting the posts over the hour at the Thurles venue.

The contrast was stark with Clonoulty-Rossmore proving far too reliant on the accuracy of Timmy Hammersley to keep them in the hunt, their ace free-taker finished with 0-13 to his credit. 

It was 0-13 to 0-12 in favour of Clonoulty after a good and hard battle had unfolded in the opening period. Clonoulty’s appetite for work in their forward line was insatiable, they turned over Loughmore’s defence on a few notable occasions to win frees that were converted by Hammersley, Cathal Bourke also picking off a nice pair of points.

Loughmore had made the early running to go in front 0-7 to 0-3 yet that gap was trimmed to a single score by the first water break and they trailed by the same margin at the interval.

That break brought an opportunity to settle themselves and they availed of it, resuming in an upbeat fashion and boosted by that pair of goals in the third quarter. At the opposite end Clonoulty got sight of the net on a couple of occasions but David Kennedy, 19 years on from manning the defensive corridor as Tipperary lifted the Liam MacCarthy Cup, walked away afterwards with a clean sheet.

He batted away one goalbound drive from Thomas Butler and a Loughmore crowd on the line denied Bourke with his attempt from a late free. 

Seven in it then at the close as Loughmore atoned a little for their 2019 exit at the hands of today’s foes. It marks their first participation in a semi-final in six years. They have football business to attend to as well, a last four tie with Moyle Rovers looms ahead of them, as they remain on the county double trail.

Scorers for Loughmore-Castleiney: John McGrath 0-9 (0-8f), Ciaran McGrath 2-1, Brian McGrath, Noel McGrath, Evan Sweeney 0-2 each, Joseph Nyland, Conor McGrath, Aidan McGrath, Tomas McGrath, John Meagher 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clonoulty-Rossmore: Timmy Hammersley 0-13 (0-12f), Cathal Bourke 0-2, Ronan Heffernan, John O’Keeffe, Thomas Butler, Fiachra O’Keeffe, Enda Heffernan 0-1 each.

Loughmore-Castleiney

1. David Kennedy

2. Lorcan Egan
17. Willie Eviston
4. Joseph Hennessy

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5. John Ryan
7. John Meagher
6. Aidan McGrath

3. Brian McGrath
12. Ciaran Connolly

19. Joseph Nyland
9. Tomas McGrath
8. Noel McGrath

21. Evan Sweeney
11. Ciaran McGrath
14. John McGrath

Subs

13. Conor McGrath for Connolly (41)
20. Peter Nyland for Ciaran McGrath (64)

Clonoulty-Rossmore

1. Declan O’Dwyer

4. Jimmy Ryan Con
2. Joey O’Keeffe
3. Ciaran Quirke

5. Enda Heffernan
6. John O’Keeffe
7. Sean O’Connor

8. Michael Ryan (W)
9. Conor Hammersley

12. Ronan Heffernan
10. Cathal Bourke
14. Thomas Butler

13. Timmy Hammersley
11. Dillon Quirke
15. Stephen Quinn

Sub

24. Fiachra O’Keeffe for Ronan Heffernan (46)

Referee: Conor Doyle (Silvermines)

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole  / Reports from Semple Stadium

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