Epic Win for U14s in County Feile Final01 May 2012 by Gilbert Williams
Bishop Quinlan Park Borrisoleigh Tuesday April 30th
Kilruane MacDonaghs 6-3 Durlas Óg 4-8
The Kilruane MacDonaghs U-14 hurlers bridged a thirty two year gap when they captured the County Féile crown in an absorbing final in Borrisoleigh. In 1980 Paul Mulcahy captained the most successful U-14 side in the club’s history which reached the All-Ireland Féile final in Galway, losing out to Na Piarsaigh of Cork. MacDonaghs also reached the All-Ireland final in 1990 when the festival of hurling was staged in Tipperary. Durlas Óg got the better of them in that decider in Semple Stadium. This was a historic victory in Borrisoleigh as it was the first time MacDonaghs had ever beaten a Durlas Óg team. In the euphoric aftermath supporters recalled some famous victories against Thurles Sarsfields: the 1974 county U-21 final in Nenagh when Kilruane overturned a first half ten point deficit to record the club’s first ever victory against Sarsfields in a county final; the senior victory in 1979 when the boys in black and white completed the three-in-a-row and the fantastic U-21 win in Dolla when MacDonaghs were crowned 2010 county champions. This latest victory was as sweet as any and Kilruane’s forty seventh county title will long be remembered by those who were present.
MacDonaghs went into this game under a cloud as influential midfielder Jerome Cahill had sustained a broken finger in the semi-final win against St. Mary’s. However, to the astonishment of everybody, Jerome took his place at corner-forward, with two fingers strapped together. His striking was clearly curtailed, but he went on to give an outstanding performance. Kilruane had first use of the breeze but it was the Thurles side who were quickly into their stride, with the full forward slotting over a point within fifteen seconds. In the fourth minute Jerome Cahill was unlucky when he whipped on a ground ball but it grazed the post. The Mid champions added their second point and at the other end a Jerome Cahill effort was deflected for a 65. MacDonaghs suffered a further setback when Durlas Óg found the net. The selectors switched Cian Darcy to midfield and Martin Grace went to centre-back and this helped the North champions gain a foothold in the game. The boys in North champions eventually got off the mark in the twelfth minute when Cian Darcy was on target with a fifty metre free. A minute later Jerome Cahill, who was tormenting the Thurles defence, whipped the sliotar to the net. It was game on. Kevin Shinners fired over a point and the sides were level and he found the net just before the break when Jerome jinked past his opponent, offloaded the sliotar to Kevin, who buried it. After a very slow start MacDonaghs were right back in the hunt with the interval score 2-2 to 1-2 in their favour.
On the resumption, Durlas Óg were quickly off the mark and had two points on the board inside the first two minutes. Kevin Shinners replied with a white flag a minute later. The team from the cathedral town tacked on two further points and then goaled from a free. The twenty metre free, had originally been tapped over the bar. However, referee John Cormack ordered it to be retaken as he had not blown the whistle because an injured player was receiving attention. At the second attempt the Thurles player went low and although the shot lacked any real venom it found the net. Durlas Óg now had a six point cushion, with seven minutes left on the clock. This goal appeared to be the turning point of the game and MacDonaghs chances seemed to be evapourating. To the eternal credit of the team they showed the renowned fighting spirit for which the club is famous. In the thirteenth minute sheer will power forced the sliotar over the line as ruck developed in the Durlas Óg goalmouth. It resembled a pushover try with Martin Grace possibly getting the final touch. Thurles replied with two points and the balance was again tilted in their favour. Five minutes left and the gap was now five points. Then came the score on the game. Cian Darcy picked the sliotar up in the middle of the field. He used his searing pace to beat a succession of Durlas Og players. Inside the twenty metre line, he passed to the unmarked Jake O’Kelly who whipped the ball to the net. This score galvanised MacDonaghs and Jerome Cahill soloed through and raised his second green flag to the tumultuous cheers of the vociferous Kilruane following. The stand was now rocking as MacDonaghs were now a point ahead. The MacDonaghs supporters went wild when Ben Healy rounded his marker, shortened his grip and planted the sliotar in the right hand corner of the net. Unbelievably, MacDonaghs were now four points in the lead. A ten point swing in the final quarter. Durlas Óg weren’t finished and deep into added time they found the net from a twenty five metre free. The tension was palpable in the stand as only the minimum separated the sides. John Cormack sounded the long whistle and MacDonaghs players and supporters celebrated a victory that was fashioned in adversity and built on heart and determination.
After the game county chairman Joe Kennedy presented the trophy to captain Conor Lillis. Congratulations to the entire panel and the management team of Christy Morgan, Ned Darcy, Michael Reddan and Justin Cahill. Brian O’Meara was also on hand in an advisory capacity. The team will now focus their attention on the championship and last year’s disappointing loss in the final should provide the necessary motivation. The juvenile committee is already making plans to raise the necessary funds to provide the gear for the National Féile finals which will be held In Dublin in early July. A number of supporters have already pledged sponsorship and the club is confident that the parish will rally around this team and ensure that they are kitted out properly as they represent Kilruane MacDonaghs and Tipperary in the All-Ireland final of Féile na nGael. Anybody interested in sponsoring the team can contact chairman Sean Ward, secretary John O’Meara, P.R.O. Gilbert Williams or team manager Christy Morgan.
Team: Mark O’Neill, Eoghan Mulcahy, Arran Conroy, Liam Hannon, Craig Morgan, Cian Darcy (0-1), Tommy Dooley, Martin Grace (1-0), Conor Lillis, Rory McCarthy, John Blagdon, Ben Healy (1-0), Jerome Cahill (2-0), Kevin Shinners (1-2) and Sean McAdams. Subs: Jake O’Kelly (1-0), Cormac Mannion and Christopher Moyles.
There are a number of links between the 1980 Féile team which reached the All-Ireland final and the present team:
Ned Darcy was full-back in 1980. He is now a selector and his son Cian is a key member of the new champions.
Michael O’Neill was part of the ’80 team which was based in Turloughhmore and his son Mark is the current keeper and has been selected on the Tipperary Primary Game A team.
Paul Mulcahy was captain in 1980 and his nephew Eoghan lined out at corner-back against Durlas Óg.
Connie Grace was chairman of the juvenile club in 1980 and was a selector along with the late Sonny Mulcahy and Gilbert Williams. His nephew Martin is having a great year with the current crop.
Jerome Cahill is nephew of Joe and Martin Cahill who played on the 1980 side.
Michael O’Meara was a squad member in 1980 as is his son Seamus in 2012.