2015 North Junior A League Champions15 Jun 2015 by Gilbert Williams
Congratulations to the junior ‘A’ team that won the North league title for the first time with a hard-earned 3-10 to 0-14 victory against Kildangan in Moneygall. This competition first saw the light of day in 1986 and MacDonaghs had been finalists on four previous occasions: (1992) Ballina 1-13 MacDonaghs 1-6, (1993) Toomevara 1-10 MacDonaghs 0-9, (1998) Nenagh 2-13 MacDonaghs 2-9 and (1999) Nenagh 3-13 MacDonaghs 1-9. Kilruane had an unbeaten run up to the final but it was Kildangan — they started the game with six senior players on their team — that carried the favourites tag.
MacDonaghs had the aid of the light breeze in the first half as they played into Dunkerrin end. James Cleary opened the scoring from a free after the forwards pressurised a Kildangan player into overcarrying the sliotar. Kieran Kelly cancelled this out when he was on target from a long-range free. Jonathan Cahill and Pádraig Kelly swopped points. A brace of white flags from Pádraig Kelly and Dan O’Meara put the Shannonsiders into a 0-4 to 0-2 lead. Both defences were on top at this stage. Páidí Kelly was doing a good job on Ruairí Gleeson. Tomás Hogan was fouled and James Cleary was unerring from the free. Ruairí Gleeson, who had moved to the half-forward line, restored the two-point advantage. Indecision in the MacDonaghs half-backline resulted in a free for Kildangan. Ruairí Gleeson made no mistake and Kildangan now had a three-point cushion. At this stage the Kilruane selectors shuffled the deck. Mark O’Meara was pushed forward into the attack with Tomás Hogan going back in defence. This move paid dividends. David Williams struck a sweet point and just before the break Mark O’Meara lashed the sliotar to the net. Considering that MacDonaghs hadn’t been firing on all cylinders, a one-point interval lead was more than satisfactory.
Some home truths must have been delivered in the half-time talk because the Magpies made a flying start to the second half. A speculative effort from James Williams deceived the Kildangan keeper and the green flag was raised. Declan Barrett lofted a 65 over the black spot as MacDonaghs took a firm grip of the game. Things got better. Captain, Jonathan Cahill galloped though the heart of the Kildangan defence and planted the sliotar in the net. The scoreboard now read 3-5 to 0-6 in favour of MacDonaghs. Kildangan responded as we knew they would. They attacked and were awarded a penalty. Everybody present knew that the outcome of this penalty could have a huge bearing on the result. Conor Doheny rose to the occasion and made a magnificent save as Ciaran Kelly’s effort seemed destined for the corner of the net.
Ruairí Gleeson pointed a free but Jonathan Cahill responded with a great effort from the right wing to leave the score 3-6 to 0-8. Ruairí Gleeson and James Cleary traded points from frees. A brace of white flags from Ruairi Gleeson frees cut the gap to five. Kildangan were now in the ascendancy at midfield and in the half-backline and the pressure mounted on the MacDonaghs defence. Tomás Hogan was fouled and Declan Barrett struck a magnificent point from the resultant free. Kildangan hit a purple patch and fired over three successive points from Andy Loughnane, Ruairí Gleeson (free) and Tommy Connors. There were now just three points between the sides and the momentum was with the opposition. Supporters were glancing anxiously at the watches. However, the MacDonaghs defence was tremendous and they refused to concede a green flag. The forwards dug deep to win two vital frees and the reliable James Cleary slotted over two crucial points to leave the final score 3-10 to 0-14.
The Magpies were junior ‘A’ league champions for the first time in the club’s history and the sound of vuvuzelas reverberated around the ancestral home of Barrack Obama. Dan Kennedy, chairman of the North Tipperary Board, presented Jonathan Cahill with the Denis Carroll Cup. Thanks to the entire panel of players the management team of John Quinlan, Paddy Williams and John Hyland; First Aid & Masseuse, Joan Whelan; and Kitman, Tom Quinlisk for their efforts during the campaign. A special word of thanks to our main sponsor, Mulcahys Cars Sales, Ardcroney.
Team: Conor Doheny, Colm Williams, Brendan McAdams, Páidí Kelly, Stephen Cleary, Mark O’Meara, (1-0), Declan Barrett (0-2), Conor Austin, Alan Darcy, James Williams (1-0), Robert Austin, David Williams (0-1), Tomás Hogan, Jonathan Cahill (Capt) (1-2) and James Cleary (0-5). Subs: Pat Conway and Kevin Quinlan. Remainder of panel: Aidan Boyle, Caoilainn Conroy, Bob Dooley, Tom Dooley, Mark Spain, Cian Williams, Martin Grace, Niall Shinners and Finnian Mannion.