The County Senior Hurling Championship 2005
Tipperary GAA Yearbook 2006, pp 66-67
The success of Thurles Sarsfields in the county senior hurling championship was received with unbridled enthusiasm by their supporters. The crowd that massed before the cup presentation to hear their hero, Redser O'Grady, receive the Dan Breen trophy, was indicative of a huge wave of relief that victory had been achieved, as well as a great desire to return to winning ways after such a long time out of the limelight. The larger than usual crowd that came out on such a dull day was a sign that the supporters of Thurles Sarsfields believed that this was to be their day, and they wished to be there to savour and enjoy it.
Strangely enough there was even a desire among neutrals that the Blues had remained long enough in the wilderness and deserved to get back again to the winner's enclosure.
The county senior hurling champion ship virtually replicated the system in use in the running of the All Ireland hurling championship. It replaced the system in use in 2004 by excluding the connection between the county league, which supplied four teams for the county quarter-finals, and the championship. Instead it linked up the divisional championships into a system of county qualifiers , bringing about a seamless link between the county and the divisions that hadn't existed before. The changes were given the green light at a special county board meeting on January 17.
There was a separate county league divided into three divisions with twenty-two teams taking part. Four clubs, Cashel King Connacs, Kildangan, Loughmore-Castleiney and Holycross-Ballycahill did not participate. Borrisoleigh won the premier division and the Johnny Ryan Cup, defeating Nenagh Eire Og by 2-10 to 1-10 in the final on April 24. Boherlahan Dualla won division I and the Jim Devitt Cup, defeating J. K. Brackens by 2-9 to 0- 14 on April 17. Templederry came out on top in division 2 and won the Canon Fogarty Cup, defeating Kilruane Mac Donaghs by 2-14 to 1-9, also on April 17.
Twenty-six teams affiliated in the 2005 championship, seven in the Mid, nine in the North, four in the South and six in the West. Because of the uneven number of teams in the Mid and the North there were preliminary rounds in these divisions. The two losers in these games then entered to county championship round robin. Rounds One of the divisional championships was then played . This provided three games in the Mid, four in the North, two in the South and three in the West. The twelve games resulted in twelve winners and twelve losers.
The twelve losers joined the two from the preliminary round to play in a round robin series. The teams were divided into two groups of four and two groups of three. They produced four winners . These joined up with the beaten semi- finalists from the divisions, one in Mid, two in North, 0 in South and one in West, - four in all. They played off in round robin two to produce four winners, Kilruane Mac Donaghs, Kildangan, Mullinahone and Roscrea. Interestingly Kildangan were the only team from the losers in the preliminary and first round to come through. They beat West semi-finalists, Golden-Eire Og.
While round robin two was in progress, the divisional finals took place . All four were played on August 7th. At sun-baked Fethard a late, late point by Trevor Ivors grabbed a draw for Ballingarry against Killenaule on a scoreline of 1-19 each. It took extra time in the replay at the same venue on August 28 before the sides could be separated. Killenaule came out on top on a scoreline of 2-21 to 3-16 to take their first South senior title since 1991.
The Mid final between Thurles Sarsfields and Drom-lnch, played at Holycross, also ended in a draw. Favourites Sarsfields , down to fourteen men for the last twenty-two minutes , grabbed a draw with a late penalty special from goalkeeper Patrick McCormack. They scored 1-17 to Drom-lnch's 2- 14. Sarsfields made no mistake in the replay at the same venue on August 21, when they won by 1-17 to 0-13.
The West final between Cappawhite and Cashel was played at Golden. It was exciting enough for the opening twenty minutes, when Cashel were still in with a shout, but after that it was all one-way traffic as Capppawhite hammered home their superiority and routed Cashel by 2-20 to 1-9.
The North final, which was played at Nenagh, saw Borrisoleigh bridge a seventeen -year gap to capture the title by beating Nenagh Eire Og by 1-13 to 0-12. It was a fine victory for a team that had to field without some prominent players through injury.
The next stage in the county champ ionship was the meeting of the round robin winners and the divisional runners-up. Loughmore-Castleiney were comprehensive winners over Cashel at Semple Stadium on September 3. Giving a polished perfonnance they strode past Cashel after the first twenty minutes to win by 4-17 to 0-15. Toomevara were equally impressive when they defeated Ballingarry by l-25 to 1-14 at Semple Stadium on September I0. They led by 1-16 to 0-9 at the interval and were just too good for their opponents. On the same day and at the same venue Drom-lnch outhurled Moneygall by 2-17 to 2-11, having led by 1-9 to 2-4 at the interval. The fourth game in the series saw Nenagh Eire Og edge out Kildangan by 0-16 to 0-10 in the tight encounter at Nenagh on September 11. After a low-scoring first half, Nenagh had trailed by 0-4 to 0-6.
The stage was set for the quarter-finals. Three of the games were played at Semple Stadium on September 17th. There was a wonderful display by Thurles Sarsfields, who unexpectedly dethroned the champions, Toomevara , by 1-20 to 1-16. While the winners were helped by the dismissal of two Toomevara players, John O' Brien and Terry Dunne, in the course of the game, their victory was in no small way due to some great individual displays, particularly by Wayne Cully and Redser O'Grady, and to shrewd management from the sideline.
A great display by Micheal Webster at full-forward helped Loughmore-Castleiney to victory over Killenaule by 4-13 to 1-18. Killenaule had the better of the exchanges in the first half but their superiority was not reflected on the scoreboard which showed them trailing by 2-7 to 0-9 at the interval. They went into the lead seven minutes into the second half but two goals by Webster and Kieran McGrath put Loughmore clear by 4-11 to 1-13 with fifteen minutes to go. Killenaule tried very hard to bridge the gap in the final quarter but failed.
A late surge by Nenagh Eire Og gave them victory over Cappawhite by 4- 16 to 2-1 1. The winners led by seven points at the interval and by eight ten minutes into the second-half. A great comeback by Cappawhite at this stage brought them level with thirteen minutes to go. However, instead of going on to victory, it was Nenagh who surged ahead to score 2-5 in the final ten minutes for a comfortable victory.
The fourth game took place at the same venue a week later. Neighbours Borrisoleigh and Drom-lnch fought it out with the North side the people's favourites. In a dull encounter there were few scores to liven up the play. Drom-lnch got a great start with a goal by Seamus Callanan after four minutes, they led by 1-5 to 0-2 at the interval, and had four points to spare, 1-8 to 1-4, at the final whistle.
The semi-finals were played at Semple Stadium on October 2nd. Drom-lnch created their own bit of history when they qualified for their ftrst county senior hurling final after three failures in 1973, 1978 and 1984. They did so by scoring a comprehensive victory over Nenagh Eire Og by 2-17 to 0-14. Playing against the wind in the first half, they trailed by 0-6 to 0-9 at the interval. It was very much an open encounter at this stage. However, within two, minutes of the re-start, Drom-lnch had two goal from Seamus Butler and Seamus Callanan, and they never looked back after that, storming home to a nine point victory.
The second semi-final , between Thurles Sarsfields and Loughmore-Castleiney was the strangest of games. As someone described the match, ' it looked sickly after fifteen minutes, when Sarsfields led 1-9 to 0-2, looked dead at the break , 1-15 to 0-4, and looked buried seven minutes into the second-half, 2-16 to 0-5'. And then it had a Lazarus-like recovery because the final score was 2-19 to 2-14 in favour of Sarsfields. The strangness may have been due to a combinat ion of Sarsfields lethargy and over confidence, and Loughmore-Castleiney’s improvement.
Thur les-Sarsfields lived up to their pre-match favourites tag when they defeated Drom-lnch by 1-17 to 0-15 in the final at Semple Stadium on October I6th. In an entertaining but not very exciting final before an attendance of nearly thirteen thousand spectators, the closeness of the scoring kept the spectators entertained. Right up to about ten minutes into second half the outcome lay in the balance but after that victory for the Blues became more inevitable. At half-time Thurles led by 1-9 to 0-9, the goal coming in the eighth minute when the Drom-lnch goalkeeper let the ball slip between his fingers into the net. It came after Drom-Inch had cleared a few earlier more dangerous attacks and it put Thurles into the driving seat. Drom- lnch succeeded in reducing the margin to one point early in the second half, but they could never quite obliterate it, and Thurles went on to a well-deserved five-point victory. Drom-lnch kept in touch by some fine scoring from Seamus Butler, who emerged from the game with a personal tally of eleven points. Equally important to Sarsfields was the contribution of six points from Johnny Enright, as well as the three points scored and the leadership given by captain , Ger 'Redser’ O'Grady. The victory came as a huge relief to the club, their first in thirty-one years, and after the loss of four finals. For Drom-lnch there was consolation of getting further than most peoples expectations. Before their game against Borrisoleigh in the quarter-final they were quoted at 12-1, as complete outsiders for ultimate honours. But they continued to box above their weight and made it to the final in impressive style.
Thurles Sarsfileds: Patrick McCormack, Brendan O'Sullivan, Gary Mcmagh, Tom King, Stephen Lillis (0-1 ), Brendan Carroll, John Lawlor , Eddie Enright (0:I), Wayne Cully (1-2), Johnny Enright (0 -6), Ger O‘Grady (0-3), (capt.). Jim Corbett, Richie Ruth (0-3) Lar Corbett. Pat Lawlor (0-1). Subs: Stephen Mason for Stephen Lillis, Patrick Bourke for Pat Lawlor, Eoin Costello for Richie Ru1h, Eamon Walsh for Lar Corbett, Lee Shanahan for Tom King. Also: Jim Mackey, Kieran O'Connor, Shane Ryan, Aidan Dundon. Tommy Collins, David O'Dwyer, Tony Connolly. John Connors, Eoin Russell, Mickey Collins. Brian Graydon, Jamie Murphy , David Keams, Barry O'Dwyer.
Coach: Ger Cunningham.
Selectors: Tommy Maher Ger Corbett.
Drom Inch: Damien Young (capt.), Michael Costello, Eamon Buckley, Edward Costello, Donnach~Kennedy, Paul Ryan, Thomas Cantwell, Padraig Butler, James Woodlock (0-2), Micheal Butler (0-1 ), Macdara Butler, Matthew Ryan, Kevin Butler , Seamus Butler (0- 11 ), Seamus Callanan. Subs: Paul Collins for Kevin Butler, Liam Brett for Seamus Callanan, Frankie McGrath for Macdara Butler, Paddy Kennedy for Paul Ryan, Martin Butler for Donnacha Kennedy. Also: Johnny Ryan, James Kennedy, Enc Woodlock, Liam Kennedy, Edward Kinane, Paul Stapleton, Seamus Cahill, Declan Ryan, Jonathan O' Connor, Brian Costello, Michael Cantwell.
Coach: Paudie Butler. Manager: Martin Everard.
Selectors: Matt McGrath, Martin Fahy.
Referee: Brian White (Clonmel).
Man of the Match award: Seamus Butler (Drom-lnch).
There was a relegation element to the county championship. The bottom team in each of the four groups in the first round robin contested the relegation. There were semi-finals and finals, and the results were as follows:
Semple Stadium, Sept. 3rd: Clonoulty -Rossmore 0-16 Holycross-Ballycahill 1- 1 0
Semple Stadium, Sept. 9th: J. K. Brackens 1-15 Templedeny Kenyons 1-14
The Ragg , Sept. 17th: Holycross-Ballycahill 1-21 Templederry Kenyons 1-10. Templederry relegated to intermediate grade.
Senior Hurling Championship 2005
Results at a Glance
Semple Stadium, September I7th:
Nenagh Eire Og 4-16 Cappawhite 2-11. Referee: Johnny Ryan (Boherlahan-Dualla)
Loughmore-Castleiney 4-13 Killenaule 1-18. Referee: John Cleary (Knockshegowna)
Thurles Sarsfields 1-20 Toomevara 1-16. Referee: Paddy Russell (Emily)
Semple Stadium, September 24th
Drom-lnch 1-8 Borrisoleigh 1-4. Referee: Brian Whiite (Clonmel)
Semple Stadium, October 2nd
Drom-lnch 2- 17 Nenagh Eire Og 0-14. Referee: Richie Barry (Cappawhite)
Thurles Sarsfields 2-19 Loughmore-Castleiney 2- 14. Referee: Johnny McDonnell (Roscrea) ·
Semple Stadium , October 16th.
Thurles Sarsfields 1-17 Drom Inch 0-15. Referee: Brian White (Clonmel)