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'It's probably as good as you're going to get' - Noel McGrath's hectic autumn and historic double

Tipp hurling star Noel McGrath helped Loughmore-Castleiney to a unique double in the county championships.

McGrath: "At the moment it'll just be hurling for me."
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

A HISTORIC CLUB double won’t tempt Noel McGrath to try life as a dual star with Tipperary.

McGrath’s inter-county summer ended early but it wasn’t long before he was back with Loughmore-Castleiney and preparing to attack on two fronts.

He scored six second-half points as the mid-Tipp club came from behind to beat Nenagh Éire Óg and claim their first senior hurling title since 2007 — when McGrath was just 16.

Three weeks later their hectic autumn came to a head with a senior football final against Aherlow Gaels.

For many of the squad it was their seventh straight weekend of action but they shrugged off the fatigue to win by 10 points and make history as the first side to do the Tipp senior double.

“We’re used to it in the club,” McGrath said, reflecting on the busy campaign.

“At the start of the year you’re always hoping to win a county final, whether its in hurling or football. The last few years we’ve been getting to semi finals and finals in football without winning, and we haven’t been in a hurling final since 07.

You’re just looking forward to maybe winning one county final but then with it gets closer, when you get to quarter-finals and semi-finals, you start to think maybe we have a chance here in both.

“The night that we really thought it could happen was when we played Arravale Rovers in the county quarter-final in football. There was just something about that night. We won after extra-time [0-16 to 1-12] and it gave the place a great lift. We went on the week after and won in the hurling.

“Once we got the momentum going, it’s hard to stop momentum with anything.”


Ciaran McGrath and Cian Hennessy celebrate at the final whistle (INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan)

The Munster campaign was a much tougher task though and Loughmore came unstuck at the first hurdle in both codes. Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh beat them by two points in a hurling thriller and a few weeks later, Kerry giants Dr Crokes easily justified their favouritism in the football semis.

“If you were told at the start of the year that you’d win two county finals, you’d take that straight away,” McGrath said.

We’re delighted with that but if things had turned out differently, you’d never know. Winning two county finals is probably as good as you’re going to get.

But not even his historic club haul will tempt him to tog out in both codes at inter-county level next season.

“At the moment I’m fairly under pressure with college and stuff so I’ll just be concentrating on hurling.

“You never know in the future but at the moment it’ll just be hurling for me.

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Niall Kelly

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