The County Senior Hurling Championship (2004)
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2005, pp 51-53
Toomevara reaffirmed their status as the dominant force in Tipperary hurling, when they captured their ninth county senior title since 1992 with a deserved six-point victory over the combination of Golden-Kilfeacle and Eire Og, Anacarty at Thurles on October 10. Even though the game wasn't as one-sided as many of the pundits predicted, with the sides level at half-time, there was never any doubt about the final outcome.
There was a new kind of county championship for 2004. For the past number of years attempts have been made to give players more guaranteed games, and a format was devised this year of having a league-championship.
The county Games Development Committee devised a structure, which divided the teams into an A and a B section, with greater privileges for the A teams. This caused a furore among the B teams, sent them into a huddle, and they came up with their own version of a league- championship, which eventually got county board sanction.
The system devised was one of six groups, five containing four teams, and the sixth having five. They played off on a league basis with the top team in each group going forward to meet the winners of the divisional championships. Since this system produced ten teams, two too many for quarter finals, a scheme had to be devised to eliminate two of them. This was done by allowing the team that headed the five-team group into the quarter-finals, plus one of the other five, drawn from the hat.
Before the championship came to be played in May, there was a separate county league of three divisions of eight teams each. (The twenty-fifth senior team in the county, Cashel King Cormac's, declined to participate.) Each group was divided into two sections, giving each team at least three games.
The top two teams played off for the winner . The divisions were called the Premier, Division 2 and Division 3, and there was a trophy for every winner.
Nenagh Eire Og won the Johnny Ryan Cup for the Premier Division, Borrisoleigh the Jim Devitt Cup for winning Division 2 and Drom Inch got the Canon Fogarty Cup for winning Division 3.
The league championship commenced in May, with regular games Sunday after Sunday. It ran reasonably smoothly and by early June had produced winners, through score difference where there were ties on points. Mullinahone came through in the five-team group, and the other winners were Holycross-B llycahill, Toomevara, Moneygall, Drom Inch and Thurles Sarsfields. Holycross-Ballycahill drew the long straw and became the second team to go straight into the quarter-finals. In the draw for the playoffs between the remaining four teams, Toomevara drew Moneygall, and Drom Inch drew Thurles Sarsfields. In the subsequent games Toomevara proved
too strong from Moneygall, winning by 1-1 7 to 1-12 at Cloughjordan on August 29, and an unfancied Drom Inch ousted Thurles Sarsfields by 1-22 to 0-21 at Templemore on the same day, to qualify for the remaining places in the county quarter-finals.
There was only one hitch in the smooth running of the league. Thurles Sarsfields were deprived of the chance of heading their group with the decision of Newport to withdraw from the league before they played Sarsfields. As a result Portroe, another team in the group, had the better score difference. Sarsfields objected on the grounds that the failure of Newport to play deprived them of the chance of improving their score difference, and appealed to Munster Council. The council upheld the appeal but referred it back to county board for resolution. The board decided on a play-off between the teams, which Sarsfields won .
Three of the divisional championships were played on August 22. First off the mark was the North division at Nenagh in the afternoon. In poor weather conditions Roscrea overcame the odds when they beat hot favourites, Borrisoleigh, by the slenderest of margins on a scoreline of
0-13 to 1-9. It was their first victory in twenty-four years.
That evening in the West final at Dundrum, there was another surprise. The combined forces of Golden Kilfeacle and Eire Og, Anacarty, who had performed so poorly in their first round match, overcame favourites, Clonoulty-Rossmore, in an engrossing second-half, with a point from a Conor O' Brien free, well into added time. The final score was 2-12 to 1-14.
On the same evening at Kilsheelan there was no surprise in the South final. Mullinahone confirmed their status as favourites, when the defeated Killenaule by 2-12 to 0-9, to take their third successive tit le in atrocious weather conditions .
The Mid final, played a week later at the Ragg, ended in a draw when Ger Flanagan pointed a controversial 65, three minutes into injury time to give Boherlahan-Dualla a draw with 1-10 to 0- 13 for Loughmore-Castleiney. Loughmore-Castleiney made no mistake in the replay at Semple Stadium on September 5. Much was expected of this game, but Loughmore Castleiney hit the ground running, were nine points up in ten minutes, 2-8 to 0- 6 in front at the interval, and convincing winners by 3-19 to 2-7.
Because Mullinahone were league winners, as well as divisional champions, they had no quarter-final opponents, and received a bye into the semi-final. Two of the quarter-finals were played on September 5. At Cashel the Combo, as they were now better known than Golden-Eire Og , continued to surprise when they defeated Drom Inch by 1-15 to 1-14. They led by 1-9 to 1-5 at the interval, but it took an injury- time point by David Fogarty from a fifty yard free to give them their one point victory.
On the same day at Templemore, Roscrea ousted Holycross-Ballycahill with a convincing 1-18 to 0-13 victory. The winners held a four-point advantage, 1-9 to 0-8, at the interval.
The third quarter-final was played at Templemore on Tuesday, September 21. (The choice of date was to give the winners five days before the semi-final.) A fine crowd turned up for this eagerly awaited clash, but it turned out to be a tough, dour encounter rather than a classic contest. Although they had the breeze in their favour in the first half, Loughmore-Castleiney led by only three points, 0-8 to 0-5, at the interval. They continued to hold their own for the early part of the second half, but then Toomevara took over and Loughmore went for fifteen minutes without scoring. At the end of this period Toomevara were three points in front, and they held on to win by 1-12 to 0-13.
The semi-finals were played at Semple Stadium on All- Ireland football Sunday, with a midday start. In the first of these the Combo continued to excite their supporters. They won comfortably even though there were only three points between them and Roscrea at the finish. Two late goals put a gloss on the North champions' performance. The Combo led by 2-9 to 0-5 at the interval, and were in front by 2-17 to 4-8 at the final whistle, the two goals coming from
veteran, John Quinn.
Toomevara proved too good for a disappointing Mullinahone, who seemed to lack a competitive edge. The game was really wrapped up with two goals from Toomevara, by Francis Devanney and Willie Ryan, on each side of half-time. The first of these gave the winners a 1-13 to 0-6 interval lead, and the second put them thirteen points ahead of the South champions. The latter brought the difference back to five points during the second half, but that was as good as they did and finished 2-19 to 2-14 adrift.
And so to the final, and the unlikely meeting of regular champions, Toomevara, and the team that were a hundred to one shot after their first round defeat. The Greyhounds were the hottest of favourites and few gave any chance to the Combo, in spite of the fact that they lived up to their West title showing by taking the scalps of Drom Inch and Roscrea on their way to the final.
All the doomsday scenario of the pundits seemed to be justified when the Combo found themselves in arrears of seven points after eight minutes, after the concession of two goals. But, they fought back in heroic fashion to draw level with Toomevara, 2-5 to 1-8 at half-time. However, they were hit by another body blow within thirty seconds of the resumption, when captain, man of the match , and leading scorer, Paddy O'Brien, had the ball in their net. For the remainder of the game The Toomevara men were dominant , confining the Combo to four points and a consolation goal in the third minute of injury time. The final score was 4-12 to 2-12 in favour of a team that were winning a sixth county crown in seven seasons. For the Combo there was only the memory of the fighting first half, and the consolation that they hadn't been disgraced.
The winning team were as follows: Justin Cottrell, John Boland , Tony Delaney, Philip Shanahan, Terry Dunne, Benny Dunne (0-1 ), David Young, Padraig Hackett, Eoin Brislane (1-2), Ken Dunne (0-2), Francis Devanney (0-1 ), Tommy Dunne (1-2), Michael Bevans (0- 1 ), Paddy O'Brien (capt.), (2-3), Willie Ryan, Subs: Byron Duff for A. Shanahan, Barry Dunne for Terry Dunne, Denis Kelly for Ryan, Kevin Cummins for Bevans, Andrew Ryan for Hackett, James McGrath, David Kennedy, Brian McCormack, John Delaney,. Paddy Tuohy, Tomas O’Meara, John Kinirons, Stephen O’Meara.
Referee: Willie Clohessy (Drom Inch)
Selectors: Sean Hehir (Manager ), Bartie Sherlock (Coach), Matt O'Meara, Sean Maxwell, Ned Murphy (Physio), John Tuohy (First Aid).
RESULTS AT A GLANCE
October 10, Semple Stadium
Toomevara 4-12, Golden-Eire Og 2-12
Referee: Willie Clohessy (Drom Inch)
September 26,Semple Stadium
Golden-Eire 6g: 2-17, Roscrea 4-8
Referee: Seamus Roche (Kilsheelan)
Toomevara 2-19, Mullinahone 2-14
Referee: John Ryan (Cashel)
September 21, Templemore:
Referee: Willie Barrett (Ardfinnan)
September 5, Templemore:
Referee: Richie Barry (Cappawhite)
September 5, Cashel:
Golden-Eire 6g 1-15, Drom Inch 1-14
Referee: Noel Cosgrove (Marlfield )
(Because Mullinahone were league and championship winners, they got a bye to the semi-final.)
The final of the relegation section was played at Nenagh on October 3, with John Ryan (Boherlahan) as referee. The result was Kilruane MacDonaghs 0-13 Newport 7-6.
The intermediate final was won by Kildangan, who defeated Moycarkey-Borris in the final. Kildangan will play in senior ranks in 2005.)