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30 Jul 2014 by Gilbert Williams

MacDonaghs Abú
Kilruane MacDonaghs captured the North U12 ‘A’ hurling title for the fifth time when they defeated Roscrea by 6-5 to 3-7 in sunny Toomevara last Saturday. The previous victories were: 1978 MacDonaghs 2-2 Toomevara 1-1; 1979 MacDonaghs 4-3 Roscrea 3-1; 2009 MacDonaghs 3-7 Nenagh 0-3 and 2010 MacDonaghs 8-2 Roscrea 3-5. In claiming this title MacDonaghs were completing the hurling and football double in ‘A’ grade for the first time in the club’s history. In 2000 MacDonaghs did the double in the ‘B’ grade. This latest victory gives a healthy looking glow to the club’s Roll of Honour which now reads: All-Ireland Titles 2 (Sevens in 1984 and club in 1986); Munster Club 1; County 49 and North 149.

Conditions were perfect in St. Michael’s Park Toomevara for this encounter. The teams paraded behind the lone piper before the match commenced. Players and spectators stood to attention as the kilted piper belted out Amhrán na bhFiann. Referee Garrett Howard from Burgess threw the sliotar in and the battle commenced. From the start it was obvious that MacDonaghs were up for this game. Aaron Morgan replicated his outstanding semi-final performance and on this occasion his leadership inspired his colleagues. Kilruane always looked threatening in front of goal where the twin strike force of James Loughnane and David Sullivan caused all sorts of problems for the Roscrea defence. James opened the scoring when he rifled the sliotar to the net. It was a cracking game with every ball contested with admirable ferocity. There was tremendous hooking and blocking from both sides, plenty of goalmouth incident and great scores to keep the large crowd entertained. Páidí Williams got the pick of the scores in the first half. He collected a quick puck out from Rory Grace and lofted the sliotar over the bar from his own half-back line. At halftime MacDonaghs headed to the dressing room leading by 3-2 to 2-4.

The game was there for the taking. Whoever wanted it most would prevail. MacDonaghs continued to have the slight edge but couldn’t put enough daylight between the sides. Deep into the final quarter only the minimum separated the sides. James Loughnane scored his fifth goal and the balance tilted in favour of MacDonaghs. With two minutes left the gap was still four. Eoin O’Meara, who had been pushed forward into the attack, whipped a ground ball to the net to seal the deal. This goal was the signal to text and tweet the good news to the parish and the bonfires were soon blazing on the hills of Knocknacree and Ballygibbon.

After the game John Delaney, chairman of North Tipperary Bord na nÓg, presented the trophy to captain David Sullivan amid scenes of great jubilation among the large MacDonaghs contingent. It took a great team effort to win this thrilling final. Rory Grace was unlucky with the first goal but cleared his lines well and placed his puck outs intelligently. At corner back Eoin O’Meara gave his usual tigerish performance and popped up to score the clinching goal. In the other corner Colm Cleary was soundness personified all through. Shane McAteer effected some lengthy clearance and was very successful in policing Roscrea danger man Luke Seacy. Aaron Morgan was once again imperious on the half-backline and snuffed out many attack. The athletic Nathan Lynch covered acres of ground and supplied quality ball to the forwards. Páidí Williams grew in stature as the game progressed and helped himself to three points. At left wing-forward Paul O’Neill plugged gamely away while on the other flank Cormac Doheny showed some deft touches. James Loughnane finished with a haul of 5-1 and produced his best performance on the most important day of season. Captain David Sullivan had a very effective game and created plenty of opportunities for James Loughnane. Substitute Eoin Carroll displayed a great appetite for work when he entered the fray and staked a strong claim for a starting place the next day.

Great credit is due to Christy Morgan and his selectors Michael O’Neill and Michael O’Meara who had the team meticulously prepared to produce their best performance on the day that mattered most.

Team: Rory Grace, Eoin O’Meara (1-0), Colm Cleary, Shane McAteer, Aaron Morgan, Páidí Williams (0-3), Nathan Lynch, Paul O’Neill, Cormac Doheny, James Loughnane (5-1) and David Sullivan (0-1). Subs: Eoin Carroll (used), Oisín Carroll, Kevin McDonald, Kevin Naughnane, Dara Hannon, Cian White, Georgie O’Leary and Oisín Williams.