The 1985 County Senior Hurling Championship
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1986, pp 18-21
When Kilruane-MacDonaghs won the county final in Semple Stadium on October 13 it was the fifth time that the senior hurling title had gone to the parish Cloughjordan. The first occasion was 1902 when the famous Lahorna De Wets won the title. There was a long time until 1977 for the second title and that was the start of a three-in-a-row. However, there was at least one connection between the two teams, the secretary of the De Wets team was Michael Gaynor of Rapla, the grand uncle of Len, who contributed so handsomely to victories of 1977-78-79. Many would agree that his hand was very much responsible for the 1985 success as well. Kilruane's success was at the expense old rivals Roscrea. The teams had already met in the north final at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh, when Kilruane were successfull on a scoreline of 2-10 1-10. The basis was laid for the success with two goals in the first five minutes and the Cloughjordan men led all through. However, although their display left a lot to be desired they revealed a toughness which was going to be an important factor in winning the county final. It was Kilruane's eight divisional title and Roscrea were seeking their seventeenth.
Meanwhile, Holycross-Ballycahill were marking their Centenary Year with victory in the mid division at Boherlahan. The win gave them their sixth title in the grade and their first since 1978. On both occasions the opposition was provided by Thurles Sarsfields. Before the game there was plenty of talk that this was the match to see. On the day it was a miserable, boring affair, bearing not even a ghost of a relationship with the contests between the sides back in the fifties. The game retained interest for the spectators only because of the fact that the teams were locked so closely together. In the end only two points separated them in a scoreline of 2-8 to 1-9.
In the west Eire Og-Cappawhite were in for their third divisional title in a row. The setting was Bansha with the backdrop of the Galtees darkened by clouds. Their oppenents were Cashel King Cormac's whom they had defeated in the two previous years. This was a game that Cashel lost rather than Cappaawhite won. They outhurled the champions in most departments for almost the entire hour and then they gave away scoring chances, goals and points, with prodigal abandon. In the end Cappawhite were four points ahead in a scoreline of 1-10 to 0-9. The victors' performance was a shadow of the great displays they had given their followers in 1984.
In the south division Carrick Swans were taking their third-in-a-row and their eighteenth since they won their first in 1933. Their victims were St Mary's, Clonmel, going for their second ever. Previews of the game had the Swans hot favourites. On the day, however, St. Mary's, a young team, came within an inch of success. Only lack of scoring power deprived them of victory. The game was played in picturesque Kilsheelan.
The draw for the quarter-finals had the north against the mid and the west against the south. The latter games were played at Bansha on a pleasant, sunny Sunday. Cappawhite were first to the fray against a St Mary's team that seemed to lack faith in itself. The west champions played some stylish hurling and with a hat-trick of goals from Ger O'Neill they led by nine points, 3-5 to 0-5, at the interval. They maintained their advantage in the second half and, with three minutes to go, were still only eight points ahead. But two St Mary's goals by Derek Williams and substitute Tommy Walsh suddenly changed everything. In the end Cappa survived and qualified for the semi-final with a score of 4-8 to 2-12.
In the second game Cashel King Cormac's continued the squandermania they had indulged in the divisional final. Without taking from the Swans victory, it has to be said that Cashel were totally inadequate when it came to scoring. In the first half they shot an incredible fourteen wides to the Swans' four. With the exception of a drive by Tommy Grogan in the second half the Swans' goalie, Willie Barrett, was otherwise untroubled. The result, a victory of 3-9 to 0-10 for the Swans, left it difficult to evaluate the southeners' true worth.
North V Mid
The other two quarter-final games took place at Semple Stadium on September 21. In the first game Kilruane MacDonaghs had a seven point victory over a very disappointing Thurles Sarsfields. In fact the winning margin did not do justice to the north men's superiority. Kilruane dominated the first half and led by 1-9 to 0-2 at the interval. It took Sarsfields ten minutes to score and they got their second point just before the interval. Thurles improved in the second half but they revealed a shortage of scoring power and, in the end, were behind by 2-10 to 2-3.
In the second game Holycross-Ballycahill's dream of adding the county to their mid title came unstuck when, in spite of a wholeheated performance, they went down by a four point margin to Roscrea in a scoreline of 2-11 to 1-10. Because the game was keenly competitive and the sides close, the game was interesting and entertaining. Holycross had the benefit of the wind in the first half but failed to make use of their chances. Two Roscrea goals at vital stages saw them ahead by 2-3 to 0-5 at half-time. The mid men produced their best hurling in the second half, but their effort wasn't sufficient to get the better of Roscrea.
And so the stage was set for the semifinals at Semple Stadium on the last Sunday in September. The first game was between the north champions and the west champions. By any standards this was a disappointing game with little of a competitive edge about it. It was marked by a complete failure on the part of Cappawhite to make use of the scoring opportunities they got. One looked around for the forward line that had moved with such speed and purpose during the 1984 championship. As an indication of their poor performance Cappawhite scored only two points in the first fifty-three minutes of the game. When their two goals came, Kilruane's place in the final was already secure. Cappawhite shot ten wides in the first half and were behind by 1-4 to 0-1 at the interval. The final score was 2-8 to 2-2 in favour of Kilruane. The other point about the game was the relatively poor performance by the north men.
This poor performance contrasted with a very fine display by Roscrea in the second semi-final when they overwhelmed Carrick Swans by 4-17 to 2-8. One of the great performances of the game was given by veteran Francis Loughnane, who had a personal tally of 2-4 and who posed a constant threat to the Swans' back line. The first half was close enough with only three points between the sides at the interval. The score was 0-10 to 1-4 in favour of Roscrea. In fact the Swans squandered a number of scoreable opportunities during this period and did not seem to be hurling with the same confidence as they had shown in the quarter-final. In the second half it was all Roscrea after Eamon Bergin got a goal four minutes into the second half. After that the south men lost all composure and gradually faded from the scene.
The County Final
Ten and a half thousand people turned up for the county final at Semple Stadium on October 13. There were many children present. They had been invited along as guests of the county board from schools throughout the county. The day was pleasant and dry and all the arrangements contributed to an enjoyable occasion.
As a result of the semi-finals, Roscrea were regarded as the more skillfull out fit with greater scoring ability. And during the course of the first half they seemed to justify that projection. In contrast the Kilruane performance was pedestrian and without imagination. Roscrea had three points on the board before there was a reply from the north champions. They dominated at centrefield where Peader Queally was king and Bergin, Scully and Loughnane, looked dangerous in the forwards. However opportunites were not taken, no goal was scored and what seemed to be a victorious Roscrea first half resulted in a lead of only 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval. Not enough by a long shot.
Kilruane resumed with a new centrefield of Dinny Cahill and Joe Banaghan and the move soon brought results. Queally's influence declined and Roscrea never re-established control in the area. On the top of that was the move of Eamon O'Shea to centre-forward. Gradually gaps began to appear in the Roscrea centre-back line and Kilruane points, two from O'Shea, brought them within a point of their opponents. But the game was dogged and the result still hung in the balance. That was, until the fifty-first minute when O'Shea burst through to set Pat Quinlan up for a goal and the lead for the first time for Kilruane. Two minutes later O'Shea sealed Roscrea's fate when he doubled on a dropping ball, from a long range free from Gilbert Williams, and scored Kilruane's second goal. Roscrea's challenge came to an end and it is significant that they scored only two points in the second half to leave a final score of 2-11 to 0-10 in favour of the north champions.
The teams for the final were as follows: Kilruane MacDonaghs: T. Sheppard (capt), J. Cahill, D. O'Meara, S. Gibson, M. Hogan, J. O'Meara, G. Williams, S. Hennessy, E. Hogan, Jerry Williams, Jim Williams, E. O'Shea, D. Cahill, P. Williams, P. Quinlan. Subs: J. Banaghan for E. Hogan, Pat Quinlan for S. Hennessy.
Roscrea: K. Moloney, J. Bergin, V. Ryan, T. O'Connor, P. Delaney, D. Kealy, K. O'Connor, P. Queally, G. Ryan, J. Stone, G. O'Connor, L. Spooner, M. Scully, F. Loughnane, E. Bergin. Subs: F. Fletcher for E. Bergin, J. pyne for T. O'Connor.
The referee was Donie O'Gorman of the Thurles Sarsfields. The cup was presented to Tony Sheppard by county chairman, Michael Lowry. The man of the match award, sponsored by Frosts Garage, Nenagh, was presented to Eamon O'Shea by Donal Shanahan, representing the sponsors.
The victory was a great achievement for the Kilruane MacDonagh club. It was the best possible success to have in the Centenary Year of the club. But it wasn't the club's only achievement during the year. They also won the county junior championship and the divisional senior football championship. To top it all the parish priest of Cloughjordan, Fr Eddie Whyte, produced a fine club history which told the story of the G.A.A. in the parish up to the present year. The only task that remains to be done at the end of 1985 is to write another chapter that will properly chronicle the great achievements of the year.