The Senior Hurling Championship (1991)

Tipperary GAA Yearbook 1992 pp 31-32 


Victory at last! was the cry and the sign of relief among Cashel King Cormac's supporters at Semple Stadium, Thurles, on November 10 when their team recorded a first ever victory in the county senior hurling championship.

It was the 101st county final to be played since the first in 1887 and it was the fifth time in that period for Cashel to reach the final stage. Previous involvements in 1937, 1939, 1940 and 1990 had ended in defeat. Three players from the earlier days, Michael Leamy, Mickey Murphy and Michael Burke, watched the glorious breakthrough from the VIP section of Ardan O Riain and savoured the sweets of victory that had eluded them.

In making the breakthrough Cashel joined a growing number of clubs which have won the ultimate honour in county hurling since the dominance of Thurles Sarsfields was ended in the mid-sixties.

During that time seven teams (eight if one includes Clonoulty-Rossmore, who won a first back in 1898) have won county senior hurling titles for the first time. They are Carrick Davins, Roscrea, MoyneTempletuohy, Moneygall, Kilruane-MacDonaghs, Cappawhite, Loughmore-Castleiney and, now Cashel. There are obviously other teams capable of making the breakthrough. One immediately thinks of Eire Og, Nenagh and Lorrha.

In contrast to the 1990 championship, Cashel had a tough passage through the west. Whereas Kickhams didn't providemuch opposition in the first round, a very determined Clonoulty-Rossmore had to be overcome in the semi-final. The final pairing with Cappawhite was a very difficult game.

The 1987 champions showed that they were no pushover and with a bit of luck might have got the verdict. In the end Cashel had four points to spare due mainly to the brilliant accuracy of Tommy Grogan, who scored ten of Cashel's twelve points from frees while Man of the Match, Jamesy O'Donoghue, got the other two scores from play.

Meanwhile, Holycross-Ballycahill were making snakelike progress through the mid division. Beating Gortnahoe in the first round they had to play Loughmore Castleiney twice before coming out on top. They beat Thurles Sarsfields in one game but needed two matches to overcome Moycarkey-Borris in the mid final. 

Toomevara, also, had a long trek through the north, beating Portroe, Roscrea and Lorrha on their way to the final. They drew with Eire Og in the final on the first day but had four points to
spare in the replay.

The earliest divisional final to be played was the south and it took place on the last Sunday in July. Killenaule won their fifteenth title when they beat Carrick Swans by two points on a scoreline of 0-15 to 1-10.


The first of the quarter-finals were played at Golden on September 29. In the first game Cappawhite had a comfortable win over Killenaule, winning by 2-18 to 0-13. The game was a close contest for three-quarters of the hour but then, in a sudden burst, Cappawhite shook off the opposition and pointed their way to victory with consumate ease. There were fine displays by Pa O'Neill, John 'Fox' O'Neill and Ger Ryan (B).

In the second game Cashel had a facile win over a desperately poor and disorganized Carrick Swan side. They led by 2-15 to 0-2 at half-time and strolled to victory by 4-18 to 1-7. Feature of the game was the perfect accuracy of Tommy Grogan, who scored ten points from placed balls and a brilliant display by Pa Fitzel at centre back.

The other two quarter-final games were played at Semple Stadium on October 13. In the first Toomevara had a dream start and were 2-2 up before Moycarkey had settled down. Gradually Moycarkey got to grips with the game and were only three points in arrears after twenty minutes. However, Toomevara stepped up their display once again and were in front by 2-7 to 1-5 at the interval. In the third quarter Moycarkey reduced the deficit to two points and seemed set to go into the lead. But Toomevara rallied and at the end of a very exciting final quarter had two points to spare at the final whistle in a score of 2-9 to 1-10.

The second match ended in a draw. Draw specialists Holycross withstood a great fight-back by Eire Og in the final quarter and survived by 2-3 to 0-9. The excitement in the closing stages went some way towards making amends for what had been largely a poor enough contest. Holycross had but one score, a point from a free by Declan Carr, in the first half-hour and were behind by 0-4 to 0-1 at the interval. However, they got two goals at vital stages, during the second half and survived the Eire Og rally by 2-3 to 0-9.  In the replay the following Saturday, Holycross snatched victory from the jaws of defeat thanks to a last-minute goal by Tony Lanigan. It was a game that Nenagh looked like winning for most of the hour. Eight points clear after twenty minutes they led by 1-9 to 2-4 at the interval and were six points in front ten minutes into the second half.

Probably the turning point of the game was in the fifty-second minute. Michael Cleary had been fouled by Johnny Doyle on his way to the Holycross goal. Instead of getting a free, Cleary was penalised by referee Willie Barrett, for allegedly carrying the ball too far, and a free given to the champions. From that free Tony Lanigan picked up a short clearance from Nenagh goalkeeper Seamus Kennedy, passed to Tomas Fogarty, who rattled the net. This left only a point between the sides and, during the nail-biting closing stages, Philip Kennedy scored to give Nenagh a two point advantage. Then in the dying moments Pat Slattery's puck-out put Holycross into the attack and the Eire Og defence got badly caught out when Paul Slattery made the room for Tony Lanigan to score the vital goal from the edge of the square.


The semi-finals were played at Semple Stadium on October 27. Cashel and Toomevara opposed one another in the opening game, a repeat of their quarter final encounter the previous year. In a very close contest Cashel were never able to shake off a determined and fighting Toomevara. The west champions led by 1-5 to 0-5 at the interval and looked as if they would win comfortably. However, Toomevara came at them during the third quarter and the verdict was in doubt until Cormac Bonnar scored his second goal at the beginning of the third quarter. For the final quarter Cashel held the initiative but they could never be comfortable against an opposition that refused to die. Had the north champions taken their opportunities from the placed ball the result might very well have been different.

In the second semi-final Holycross survived a strong Cappawhite challenge by the minimum margin in a score of 1-17 to 3-10. For much of the game the men from the west looked like bringing Holycross's reign to an end. They hurled with great zeal and proved themselves undeserving of their underdog tag. However, they were never able to get the vital scores when they most needed them. Cappawhite led by 1-6 to 0-7 at the interval.

With the wind in their favour Holycross reduced the deficit and went into a three point lead. It seemed as if they would coast away. But Cappawhite struck back with two goals to go into a three-point lead. This setback seemed to stimulate the mid men who struck back with five points to be two points in front going into the last five minutes. During these minutes Cappawhite tried desperately to get the goal that would give them victory. But all they could secure was a point and they were behind by the mininlum of margins when referee Michael Cahill sounded the final whistle.


The final at Semple Stadium on November 10 was looked forward to with great expectation. Holycross, on the basis of their third final appearance and their ability to survive against great odds during their earlier games, were the slightest of favourites at about 9 / 8. They also had a new coach in Francis Loughnane. Cashel, on the other hand, were determined to reverse the previous year's defeat. They had in their favour the immeasurable services of Justin McCarthy's coaching and the value of three tough encounters, with Clonoulty, Cappawhite and Toomevara, on their way to the final. Above all, they had a fierce determination to become the first Cashel team to win a senior hurling final.

An estimated crowd of twelve thousand was present when Johnny MacDonnell of Roscrea threw in the ball to begin the 101st county final. Holycross had a strong wind in their favour and, within two minutes of the start they should have had a goal up when Paul Slattery blazed the ball over the bar from less than ten yards with only the goalie, John Ryan, to beat. Cashel replied with points from a Tommy Grogan free and a mighty effort by T.J. Connolly from under the new stand. Then disaster struck Cashel when goalie John Ryan, with apparently all the
time in the world to dear his lines, fumbled the ball and Pat Cahill pounced to put the ball away for a Holycross goal. But Cashel came back and were unlucky when a fine effort by Ailbe Bonnar in the 16th minute was saved by the woodwork.  Declan Carr got two points and Tommy Grogan one to leave the half-time score 1-4 to 0-4 in favour of the champions.

With the wind in Cashel's favour after the interval it looked as if it was to be their day. However, the third quarter was a tough and difficult time for the west men as the county champions refused to yield and put up the most determined resistance.

It took the full quarter for Cashel to draw level but then the turning point came in the sixteenth minute when Tommy Grogan netted to put Cashel two points ahead. Michael Doyle replied with a point, the only score by Holycross in the half, and, even though Cashel were dominant, the only reward they got was a 47th minute point by T.J. Connolly. However, five minutes from time, Cormac Bonnar clinched the title with a superb goal and this put paid to any chance that Holycross had of staging a Houdini revival in the last minute. The last word came from Jamesy O'Donoghue who had a point in the 59th minute to give Cashel a 2-8 to 1-5 win and their first county final victory.

Cormac Bonnar is congratulated. James O'Donoghue celebrates

Cormac Bonnar is congratulated. James O'Donoghue celebrates

And so it was that a new name was inscribed on the Dan Breen Cup, which was received amidst great excitement by Cashel captain Colm Bonnar, from county chairman Michael McGuire. It was a victory that was fully deserved and one to which all the team contributed handsomely but none more than Raymie Ryan, who won the Man of the Match Award presented by John Quirke of Cahir, Pat O'Donoghue, Conal Bonnar, Pat Fitzelle, Colm Bonnar and T.J. Connolly.
For Holycross their best performances came from Benjy Browne, Michael Doyle, T.J. Lanigan and Declan Carr.

Colm Bonnar raises the Dan Breen Cup following the county final

Colm Bonnar raises the Dan Breen Cup following the county final

The victorious panel was as follows: John Ryan , Michael Perdue, Pat O'Donoghue, Tony Slattery, Raymie Ryan, Pa Fitzelle, Conal Bonnar, Colm Bonnar, Willie Fitzelle, Jamesy O'Donoghue, T.J. Connolly, John Grogan, Tommy Grogan, Cormac Bonnar, Ailbe Bonnar. Sub: Timmy Moloney for Ailbe Bonnar. Also: Joe Minogue, Declan McGrath, Seanie Barron, Sean Slattery, Sean O'Donoghue, Joe O'Leary, Peter Fitzelle, Ger Slattery, Sean Morrissey, Liam Devitt, Don Higgins. Selectors: Justin McCarthy (coach), Brendan Bonnar, Aonghus Ryan, John Darmody.

The Holycross-Ballycahill side was as follows: Pat Slattery, Johnny Doyle, Tom Dwyer, Ruairi Dwan, Phil Dwyer, Michael Doyle, Benjy Browne, Dedan Carr, P.J. Lanigan, Paddy Dwan, Paul Slattery, Paul Maher, Tony Lanigan, Tomas Fogarty, Pat Cahill. Subs: Ciaran Carroll for Paddy Dwan; William Ryan for Tomas Fogarty. Also: Donal Ryan, Robert Stakelum, Jim Butler, Timmy Gleeson, Paddy Browne.
Selectors: Michael Ryan, Seamus Mackey, Phil Lowry, Francis Loughnane (coach).


COUNTY FINAL - Semple Sodium, Thurles, November 10:
Cashel King Cormacs 2-8; Holycross-Ballycahill 1-5.
Ref: Johnny McDonnell (Roscrea).

COUNTY SEMI-FINALS- Semple Sodium, Thurles, October 27:
Cashel King Cormacs 2-10; Toomevara 0-13.
Referee: Michael Greene (Uppcrchurch -Drombane).
Holycross-Ballycahill 1-17; Cappawhite 3-10.
Referee : Michael Cahill (Kilruanc-MacDonaghs).

COUNTY QUARTER-FINALS- Semple Sodium, Thurles, October 13:
Toomevara 2-9; Moycarkey-Borris 1-10.
Referee : Tommy Lonergan (Kilsheelan).
Holycross -Ballycahill 2-3; Eire Og, Nenagh 0-9.
Referee : Willie: Barrett (Ardfinnan ).
REPLAY: Semple Stadium, ,Thurles, October 19
Holycross -Ballycahill 4-6; Eire Og, Nenagh 1-14.
Golden, September 29:
Cappawhite 2 -18; Killenaule 0 -13.
Referee: Johnny McDonnell (Roscrea).
Cashel King Cormac 4-18; Carrick Swans 1-7.
Referee: P. J. Kelly Ballinahinch.