MacDonaghs captured the North U21 title for the fifth time in seven years and the eleventh in all, since their first victory forty years ago with a 0-14 to 0-11 win against Toomevara. Success was previously achieved in the following years: 1972 (Capt. Johnny O’Meara), 1973 (Capt. Dinny O’Meara), 1974 (Capt. Tom Killackey), 1975 (Capt. John Doheny), 1976 (Capt. Michael Hogan), 1978 (Capt. John Cahill), 2006 (Capt. Kevin Quinlan), 2007 (Capt. Stephen Murphy), 2009 (Capt. Gavin McAvinchey) and 2010 (Capt. Pádraig Kelly). This was MacDonaghs first victory against Toomevara in an under 21 final (they had only played in two previous encounters in 1985 & 1986). It is also the fourth successive victory against The Greyhounds in an underage final, following on from the victories in the 2004 U16 final and the 2006 U14 & minor finals. MacDonaghs now go top in the U21 roll of honour in the division, one ahead of our great rivals Toomevara. This latest triumph brings the club’s haul of divisional title to 143, complemented by 48 county titles.
When Newport was announced as the venue supporters began scanning Google Maps and checking that Sat Navs were in good working order. Most parishioners had never been to Newport, never mind setting foot in Lacken Park. Despite the unfamiliarity with the venue, a huge crowd of MacDonaghs supporters descended on “Dear Old Newport Town”, led by our club president Tom Cleary. Another hardy warrior spotted behind the town goal was Paschal Harty. As MacDonaghs gathered in the prematch huddle the heavens opened. Luckily the weather cleared up in the opening quarter. Toomevara captain Andrew Ryan won the toss and rather surprisingly elected to play against the breeze. The boys in black and white started brightly and in the first minute Kieran Cahill was on target from a close in free after Andrew Ryan had fouled Eoin Williams. It was a lead MacDonaghs wouldn’t relinquish throughout the game. Toomevara suffered a setback in the second minute when corner back Cathal Kennedy had to depart the scene with a leg injury. In the fourth minute great hassling by the MacDonaghs forwards, a feature of the game, forced Toomevara to concede a line ball. Kieran Cahill sent the sliotar sailing between the posts for a peach of a score. In the fifth minute Paddy Grace got Toomevara off the mark with a pointed free. A minute later Eoin Williams was fouled by Andrew Ryan and Kieran Cahill punished the indiscretion with his second white flag. MacDonaghs were motoring now and Conor Cleary chipped in with his first point in the ninth minute. Toomevara responded with a point from Paddy Grace after Darren Delaney caught MacDonaghs napping with a quick free.
The Kilruane defence was well on top at this stage with Niall O’Meara and Jack Peters very influential, David Williams was having his best game for two years, while Eanna Hogan, Conor Austin and Tomás Hogan were giving little leeway. Niall O’Meara and Justin Cahill made two great surges through the Greyhounds defence and were unlucky to see their efforts just trail wide. Toomevara reduced the gap to one when a short puck out went astray and Paddy Grace availed of the opportunity to leave the scoreboard reading 0-4 to 0-3. The very impressive Thomas Cleary replied with a point. Great pressure by the MacDonaghs forwards pressurised the Toomevara defence, resulting in over carrying and Kieran Cahill was on target again. Thomas Cleary fetched a puck out from David Reddan and was unlucky to see his shot go the wrong side of the post. Alan Darcy shipped a heavy tackle from Colm Canning and once again Kieran Cahill made them pay to put MacDonaghs four ahead. At this stage the selectors moved Kieran Cahill to centre forward to try and curb the influence of Darren Delaney who was hovering up an amount of ball. Kieran managed to reduce his influence. MacDonaghs edged five ahead when Thomas Cleary grabbed a well placed free from Niall O’Meara and fired the sliotar over the bar to leave Kilruane five ahead. Justin Cahill was moved to centre forward for the final few minutes of the half as MacDonaghs tried to convert their superiority into more scores. A point from play by Kieran Cahill extended the lead to six and in the thirtieth minute Kieran was unfortunate to see his free miss the target after Justin Cahill had been fouled. Paddy Grace had the last score of the half when he pointed a free, following a foul on Kieran Ryan. MacDonaghs were not flattered by the 0-9 to 0-4 scoreline and should have been further ahead. The team was working hard, but was struggling in a few areas in attack.
The first ten minutes of the second half were going to be crucial and so it proved to be. The breeze began to freshen and Toomevara were expected to thunder into the game. In the opening minute of the half Niall O’Meara took a very heavy knock. Niall put the resultant free out to the wing to Thomas Cleary who put over a magnificent point, for probably one of the most important scores of the game. Conor O’Meara responded with a point in the fourth minute. Almost immediately Justin Cahill cancelled this out with a delightful a white flag from the right flank. Justin was unlucky not to add to his tally when Eoin Williams picked him out with an angled pass but the sliotar went to the right of the post. In the eighth minute Eoin Williams was fouled and Kieran Cahill pointed to put MacDonaghs seven ahead with the score 0-12 to 0-5. Ten minutes had elapsed and not only had MacDonaghs kept their interval lead intact but they had increased it by two. However, the anticipated Toomevara revival was on its way. Conor Austin fouled Conor Delaney and Paddy Grace pointed. Toomevara now reeled off four more unanswered points from Conor O’Meara (2), Paddy Grace and Colm Canning, who was now operating at centre forward in an attempt to stifle the dominance of Niall O’Meara. The momentum was now with the Greyhounds and their followers were in full voice. Alan Darcy had to depart the scene with an injury and he was replaced by Stephen Cleary. When Justin Cahill was rather harshly penalised for over carrying Paddy Grace missed the resultant opportunity. This miss seemed to galvanise MacDonaghs and they managed to stem the tide. Conor Cleary was fouled and Kieran Cahill made no mistake. Conor O’Meara was fouled and Paddy Grace opted to take the point from a forty metre free as the game drifted into injury time. Justin Cahill was immense in the final minutes as he repelled a number of attacks. Kieran Cahill pointed to restore the three point cushion. In Toomevara’s final onslaught the outstanding Niall O’Meara burst out with the sliotar. Philip Kelly sounded the long whistle and the large MacDonaghs contingent gave vent to their feelings. MacDonaghs were champions for the eleventh time. This team showed great character when the momentum swung against them in the second half. The team is blessed with great leaders and they stood up when they were needed.
After the game North Board Chairman Rocky McGrath presented the Michael Delaney Cup to captain Eanna Hogan. The team then travelled to Lucky Bags for a well deserved meal. Supporters Ger Maher, Joe Gleeson and Michael Eelebert were spotted having a celebratory pint of the black stuff. Ger said that he hadn’t enjoyed a pint as much in ages. There were no celebrations in Clough that night. The team and management were already focussed on the massive challenge they face against Thurles. The management team of John Hyland, John Quinlan and Paddy Williams deserve great credit for winning a championship as rank outsiders. The team was well prepared and the selectors were mature enough to enlist the help of other coaches, both inside and outside the club. Now however, the face their greatest test. As they mull over the DVD they will be well pleased with the defence and midfield (although MacDonaghs did struggle there for a while when Alan Darcy went off) but they will burn the midnight oil over both personnel and positions in the attack. Thurles will be red hot favourites in Templemore on Sunday but MacDonaghs have a great record against them at this level, with the famous 2010 victory fresh in minds of both sides.
Supporters are encouraged to turn out in force in Sunday for the semi-final which commences at 1.30pm. We ask you to gather in the stand and cheer the team on. Don’t be afraid to clap and shout. This team will respond and feed off your support.
Team: David Reddan, David Williams, Eanna Hogan, Conor Austin, Tomás Hogan, Niall O’Meara, Jack Peters, Justin Cahill (0-1), Alan Darcy, Thomas Cleary (0-3), Robert Austin, Conor Cleary (0-2), Kieran Cahill (0-8), Eoin Williams and Aidan Boyle. Subs: Stephen Cleary and Bob Dooley.
Remaining panel members: Paddy Ryan, Sean Cleary, David Mooney and Ronan Boyle.
First Aid: Jimmy Cahill Masseur Pat Conway
Congratulations to Joe Hannigan from Shannon Rovers who was elected chairman of the Tipperary Football Board. Pat Murphy, Jimmy Cahill and Mark Spain represented the MacDonaghs club at the convention.
The AGM of the juvenile club takes place in the clubroom on Friday January 11th. All interested in the promotion of juvenile games in the parish are asked to attend.
The presentation of medals to the U10 hurlers, U12 A footballers, U12 B hurlers and the U14 hurlers will take place in the Thomas MacDonagh Complex on Friday January 18th at 8.00pm. Guest of honour on the night will be All-Ireland minor medallist Jack Peters. We will be looking for the assistance of parents in supplying sandwiches, cakes buns etc. We have received tremendous support from parents during 2012 and we anticipate the usual generous response on this occasion. More details later.
Membership fees remain the same as last year: U6, U8, U10 and U12 €10; U14, U16 and U18 €20 and non playing adults €20. There is a special membership package for all players over minor. All adult players will be briefed on this before the start of the playing season.
Len Gaynor and Gilbert Williams represented the club at the County Convention in Thurles.
Monster Sale of Work & Auction
It’s full steam ahead for the Monster Sale of Work & Auction in the Thomas MacDonagh Complex on Sunday January 27th. There has been a very positive response and we have received pledges of timber, turf, briquettes, farm produce, fodder, vouchers, cakes, buns, beer, spirits, electrical goods, furniture etc. All donations are very much appreciated and will be gratefully acknowledged. Club members, supporters and players are also asked to canvass their friends, neighbours and business acquaintances for any item big or small that can be sold or auctioned. Len Gaynor 086-3110657 is co-ordinating the timber operations so if you can donate a tree or a load of timber you can make contact with Len. On last Saturday Len and his crew knocked a tree which was located in a very awkward position. Happily, the mission went off without a hitch and the timber is destined for the auction.
On the day of the Sale of Work tea will be served, the ever popular Wheel of Fortune will be in operation and there will also be a raffle for a trailer of timber. Club members and supporters are reminded that this is a “Bring and Buy Sale”, so we hope everyone will make some contribution to the Sale or Auction and also buy something. The club will gladly accept all those unwanted Christmas presents e.g. the extra tins of biscuits and boxes of chocolates that you won’t eat, the beer and spirits that you never intend drinking and the vouchers that will be left lying around the house. We can turn them into ready cash. “A lot of people doing a little and doing it well” will ensure that this venture will be an outstanding success.