Loughmore-Castleiney captain Tomas McGrath is tackled by Adam Gratton. Photograph: Bridget Delaney

Sluggish Nenagh flattened by Loughmore

GAA: FBD Insurance Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship Semi-Final


Loughmore/Castleiney    1-22
Nenagh Eire Og        1-12

Report: Shane Brophy at Semple Stadium

Player of the Match:
John McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney)
SCORERS – Loughmore/Castleiney: John McGrath 0-12 (4 frees, 2 65s); Tomas McGrath 1-2; Evan Sweeney 0-3; Ciaran Connolly 0-2; Aidan McGrath, Noel McGrath, Joseph Nyland 0-1 each.
Nenagh Eire Og: Michael Heffernan 0-5 (2 frees); Tommy Heffernan 1-1; Paddy Murphy, Jake Morris 0-2 each; Daire Quinn, James Mackey 0-1 each.

The big question going into this Tipperary senior hurling semi-final was what Nenagh Eire Og were we going to get. 

Was it the side that impressed hugely in defeating Thurles Sarsfields in the quarter final, or the one that tends to struggle in their subsequent game after a notable win.

Well we got the former as Nenagh never brought the same vim and vigour which encapsulated their performance against Sarsfields a week previous, and against a side such as Loughmore/Castleiney that is not going to work out well.

This game was in stark contrast to the previous Saturday where Nenagh raced out of the blocks and hit 2-7 before Thurles registered on the scoreboard, this time Eire Og were 0-9 to 0-1 down after nineteen minutes against a Loughmore side who brought the slickness and energy on this occasion.

To their credit Nenagh struck the next five points in a row to cut the margin to three coming up to half time, and we looked set for a contest, before Eire Og were hit with three crushing blows. Already without injured full back Hugh Maloney, Nenagh lost fellow defenders Conor McCarthy and Barry Heffernan in the same piece of action on the 24th minute. Firstly, Conor McGrath was immensely brave to put his body in front of a goal-bound Tomas McGrath shot with the ball striking his kneecap at full force. As the play continued, Barry Heffernan rolled his left ankle and was compromised thereafter and couldn’t play on long after half time.

25 minutes into a semi-final and without half your starting defence, not many clubs could cope, particularly against a Loughmore side that were motoring where John McGrath was at his brilliant best, finishing with twelve points, six from play. He ran the show from centre forward and in front of the watching Liam Sheedy, the Tipperary manager will certainly be considering a new role for him on the forty.

This was by far Loughmore’s best performance of the campaign, they were as slick and sharp as Nenagh were the week previous with the quickness as which they moved the ball with Ciaran Connolly hugely impressive at midfield, while their defence again were well drilled, led by John Meagher at centre back while Lorcan Egan did a fine job on Jake Morris, holding him to two points before Morris’ game ended on 43 minutes when he was sent off for lashing out on his opponent off the ball.

It encapsulated the frustration for Nenagh on the evening where little fell for them but in fairness they made very little happen and it looked like the had expended a lot of energy in getting up for the Thurles challenge and were unable to regather themselves in the space of seven days.
Conor Ryan, Conor Hennessy and Daire Quinn can hold their heads high while Michael Heffernan was to the fore in attack, but Nenagh couldn’t get the scoreboard ticking over on a regular basis.

Nenagh almost got off to a lightening quick start as Jake Morris found himself in a similar position to the two goals he scored from play against Thurles, inside fifty seconds, but Lorcan Egan got back to make the hook. Paddy Murphy opened the scoring but after that it was all Loughmore who rattled off nine points without reply from John McGrath (6), Aidan McGrath, Ciaran Connolly and Tomas McGrath. Nenagh’s confidence wasn’t helped by Jake Morris missing a relatively easy free on eight minutes.

The water-break came to Nenagh’s rescue and they rattled off five points in quick succession from Michael Heffernan (2), Tommy Heffernan, Jake Morris and James Mackey and they were right back in the game before the injuries took the wind from their sails.

From there to half time, Loughmore hit 1-5 without reply, the goal coming from Tomas McGrath in added time, a save blow which you suspected Nenagh couldn’t come back from as they trailed 1-14 to 0-6 at the break.

They tried their best in the second half but they never looked like building up a head of steam, despite Daire Quinn’s excellence in the half back line and Michael Heffernan up front. They had enough possession but Loughmore are too experienced and they squeezed them out and at the other end they kept the scoreboard ticking over with Evan Sweeney having a strong second half with three points from play. 

They also finished the game with fourteen men after sub Conor McGrath picked up two yellow cards in his short spell on the field with Nenagh’s consolation goal coming from Tommy Heffernan on 56 minutes but by that stage there was no way back.

TEAMS – Loughmore/Castleiney: David Kennedy (6); Lorcan Egan (7), Joseph Hennessy (8), Willie Eviston (7); John Ryan (7), John Meagher (7), Aidan McGrath (7); Brian McGrath (7), Ciaran Connolly (8); Joseph Nyland (7), John McGrath (9), Noel McGrath (7); Evan Sweeney (8), Ciaran McGrath (6), Tomas McGrath (8).
Subs: Conor McGrath (5) for Ciaran McGrath (45); Tommy Maher (6) for Nyland (53); Peter Nyland for T McGrath (60).
Nenagh Eire Og: Mark Tuite (7); Conor Ryan (7), Adam Gratton (6), Conor McCarthy (6); Conor Hennessy (7), Barry Heffernan (6), Daire Quinn (8); James Mackey (6), Pearse Morris (6); Paddy Murphy (7), Michael Heffernan (8), Killian Gleeson (6); Philip Hickey (6), Tommy Heffernan (7), Jake Morris (6).
Subs: Sean Phelan (7) for McCarthy (27 inj); Adam Carey (6) for P Morris (HT); Donnacha Quinn (6) for B Heffernan (36 inj); Adam Healy (NR) for Gleeson (60).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Knockavilla Kickhams)