County Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship 2016
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2017, pages 61-63
Thurles Sarsfields won their thirty-fifth county senior hurling championship when they completed a hat-trick of titles by beating Kildangan by 0-27 to 1-15 at Semple Stadium on October 16. The winners were strong favourites to win the title but some fancied that Kildangan had a chance on the basis of their retention of the North title and an impressive display against Drom Inch in the county quarter-final.
As events transpired this was a no contest final. The losers were hit by an avalanche of scores in the opening minutes as Sarsfields ran riot in a ‘Croppy, lie down’ display and led by nine points to one after as many minutes. Kildangan did their best to salvage some honour during the rest of the hour but they had no answer to a rampant Sarsfields side that confirmed the opinion of many that they are well ahead of any challenge that can be thrown at them within the county.
Thirty teams contested the senior championship for the Dan Breen Cup, sixteen of them in Roinn 1 and fourteen in Roinn 2. There was only one change in the running of the championship from 2015. Any team that qualified from the group stage had to do so on its own merits and could not qualify through backdoor methods. Under this rule the teams that came first and second in Roinn 1 groups and first in Roinn 2 groups qualified for the play-off stage of the competition. Divisional winners , if they hadn’t already qualified, were given recognition by playing off against the Roinn 2 winners in a round before the preliminary quarter-finals
The groups in Roinn 1 were as follows: 1. Killenaule, J. K. Brackens, Drom Inch, Upperchurch-Drombane; 2. Eire Óg, Thurles Sarsfields, Roscrea, Borrisileigh; 3. Kilkdangan, Nenagh Eire Óg, Mullinahone, Templederry Kenyons; 4. Clonoulty-Rossmore, Kilruane MacDonaghs, Portroe, Lorrha.
The groups in Roinn 2 were as follows: 1. Burgess, Moyne Templetuohy, Holycross-Ballycahill, Toomevara; 2. Carrick Swan, Moneygall, Moycarkey-Borris; 3. Loughmore-Castleiney, Borrisokane, Kickhams; 4. Ballina, Silvermines, Ballingarry, Clonakenny.
The qualifiers from the group stage were as follows: Roinn1 – In Group 1 Killenaule won and Drom Inch got the runners-up spot; in Group 2 Thurles Sarsfields came out on top with Borrisileigh in the runners-up position; in Group 3 Kildangan got top spot with Mullinahone in second place; in Group 4 Clonoulty-Rossmore won and Kilruane MacDonaghs got the runners-up spot.
In Roinn 2 only the winners qualified and they were Burgess, Carrick Swans, Loughmore- Castleiney and Ballina respectively.
In the meantime the following teams had won the divisional championships, Loughmore-Castleiney (Mid), Kildangan (North), Mullinahone (South) and Clonoulty-Rossmore (West).
As all four teams had already qualified for the play-offs there was no need for another round between them and the winners of Roinn 2.
The preliminary quarter-finals pitted the runners-up in Roinn 1 against the winners of Roinn 2. These games took place on the weekend of September 25. Kilruane MacDonaghs showed no mercy when destroying Carrick Swan by 5-26 to 0-6 at Holycross. It was a closer affair between Mullinahone and Ballina at Templetuohy with the South champions coming through by 0-19 to 0-16. Borrisileigh got the better of Burgess by 1-17 to 1-13 at Dolla. Drom Inch had to minimum to spare over Loughmore-Castleiney at Holycross on a score line of 1-16 to 0-18 in a match that ended in controversy because of the paltry amount of added time allowed.
The quarter-finals were played on the weekend of1/2 October at Semple Stadium. Killenaule, who had been defeated by Mullinahone in the South final gave a fine display and held out against a late charge by Kilruane to win by 2-20 to 1-20. Their display was capped by a superb performance from John O’Dwyer, who contributed thirteen points of their total, seven from play. In the second game on Saturday Borrisileigh were no match for Thurles Sarsfields, who cruised to a 2.22 to 0-13 victory.
The major talking point after Sunday’s games was the shock delivered to Drom Inch by a very determined, highly motivated and pacey performance by the North champions. Kildangan were in control of the game from early on and never let it slip from their grasp. In fact they probably deserved better than their four point margin of victory on the score line of 2-18 to 1-17.
In the fourth game Clonoulty-Rossmore had a comfortable 1-18 to 1-10 victory over Mullinahone in a rather pedestrian encounter. The South champions suffered the loss of Eoin Kelly during the first quarter and this didn’t help their cause, but they were overall well off the pace in the game.
The semi-finals were played at Semple Stadium on October 9. Thurles Sarsfields proved too good for Clonoulty-Rossmore and won easily on a score line of 1-22 to 0-15. The West champions kept pace with Sarsfields for the first twenty minutes but then the eventual winners took off and scored six of the last seven points in the half to lead by 0-13 to 0-8 at halftime. By the end of the third quarter the contest was decided. A Richie Ruth goal in the twelfth minute and a missed Timmy Hammersley penalty effort put paid to Clonoulty’s chances of a fight back and when Sean Maher was re-carded six minutes from time, it was the end of the road for them.
In the second game Kildangan came through with nine points to spare on a score line of 2-16 to 0-13. Much was expected of this contest but it was a very lacklustre performance. The winners were no way as impressive as they were in the quarter-final and the performance of some of the Killenaule players seemed at times to verge on the disinterested. The winners led by 1-9 to 0-8 at the break and the contest was still open entering the last quarter with only three points, 1-11 to 0-11, between the sides. Joe Gallagher got Kildangan’s decisive second goal in the fiftieth minute and they had the better of the exchanges in the final minutes for their eight-point victory.
The final contest was a David versus Goliath affair, with Kildangan striving the win their first county senior title and Thurles Sarsfields chasing their thirty-fifth. The bookies didn’t expect the contest to be anything but an uneven one and installed Sarsfields as red-hot favourites to make it three-in-a-row. The sides had met once before at this stage of the championship on the only occasion when Kildangan got to the final in 1938. Sarsfields won easily by 7-7 to 2-2 on that occasion. That was a long time ago and Kildangan took encouragement from a more recent meeting during the group phase of the 2015 championship when they registered a 3-15 to 0-12 win over the favourites.
It is probably fair to say that Kildangan didn’t do themselves justice on the occasion. Whether they were overawed by the occasion or not is difficult to decide but they appeared transfixed during the opening quarter as Sarsfields took off in a blitz of high-powered, top-quality hurling that was well nigh impossible to cope with. By the time they found their feet the game had gone past them and they spent the remainder of the match trying to catch up.
The did fight back and came within seven points of their opponents at one stage, but Sarsfields were always able to motor ahead once again and one felt that if danger threatened from a Kildangan revival, they could always lift their performance to a new level to offset the danger. The winners led by 0-15 to 0-6 at the interval and were comfortably on top by nine points at the final whistle on a score line of o-27 to 1-15.
Thurles Sarsfields: Patrick McCormack, Stephen Maher (0-1), Ronan Maher (0-2), Michael Cahill, Stephen Lillis (0-1), Padraic Maher, Denis Maher, Stephen Cahill, Billy McCarthy, Tommy Doyle, Aidan McCormack (0-6), Pa Bourke (0-9), Conor Lanigan (0-2), Lar Corbett (0-1), Richie Ruth (0-5). Subs: Rory Dwan for Denis Maher, John Maher for Conor Lanigan, David Kennedy for Lar Corbett, Kevin O’Gorman for Richie Ruth. Also Kevin Smith, Cian Treacy, Pa Dunne, Mikey O’Brien, Jack Derby, Michael Russell, Kevin O’Gorman, Barry O’Dwyer, Cathal Moloney, John Lawlor, Kevin Dunne, David Corbett.
Team management: Tommy Maher, Paddy McCormack, Connie Maher.
Kildangan: Barry Hogan, James Quigley, Hughie Flannery, Fergal Hayes, David Sweeney, Alan Flynn, Darren Moran, Johnny Horan (0-1), Martin Minihan, Joe Gallagher (1-1), Darragh Egan (0-6), Ruairi Gleeson (0-2), Willie Connors (0-3), Paul Flynn (0-1), Tadhg Gallagher (0-1). Subs: Jack Loughnane for Martin Minihan, Eoin Kelly for Johnny Horan.
Also Paddy Coen, Andy Loughnane, Gary Byrne, Jim Minihan, Shane Seymour, Eoin Meagher, Ciaran Kelly, Tommy Connors, Eanna Gleeson, Kian Hayes, Dan O’Meara, Gerry Slattery, Eoin Gleeson.
Team management: Dan Hackett, Sean Treacy, Martin McLoughney.
John Quirke Jewellers Man of Match Award: Ronan Maher (Thurles Sarsfields.
Referee: John McCormack (Kickhams), Standby Referee, Fergal Horgan (Kickhams), Linesman, Sean Bradshaw (Kickhams), 4th Official, Padraig Skeffington (Cashel K.C.), Umpires, Adrian Crosse, Pat McCormack, Paul Ryan, John Hadnett (all Kickhams).
Results at a Glance
25/09/2016 Holycross Kilruane MacDonaghs 5.26 Carrick Swans 0.06 Fergal Horgan
25/09/2016 Templetuohy Mullinahone 0.19 Ballina 0.16 Sean Everard
25/09/2016 Dolla Borris-ileigh 1.17 Burgess 1.13 Ciaron Timmons
25/09/2016 Holycross Drom & Inch 1.16 Loughmore Castleiney 0.18 Johnny Ryan
01/10/2016 Semple Stadium Killenaule 2.20 Kilruane MacDonaghs 1.20 Kevin Jordan
01/10/2016 Semple Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 2.22 Borris-ileigh 0.13 John O’Brien
02/10/2016 Semple Stadium Clonoulty Rossmore 1.18 Mullinahone 1.10 Philip Kelly
02/10/2016 Semple Stadium Kildangan 2.18 Drom & Inch 1.17 John McCormack
09/10/2016 Semple Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 1.22 Clonoulty Rossmore 0.15 John Cleary
09/10/2016 Semple Stadium Kildangan 2.16 Killenaule 0.13 Fergal Horgan
16/10/2016 Semple Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 0.27 Kildangan 1.15 John McCormack