Kiladangan captain Paul Flynn lifts the Dan Breen Cup in the presence of his team-mates, John Devane (County Board Chairman), Michael Berkery (FBD Insurance - Sponsor) and Joe Kennedy (County Board Vice-Chairman). Photograph: Bridget Delaney

Kiladangan claim first senior title in epic final

GAA: FBD Insurance Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship Final


Kiladangan            1-28
Loughmore/Castleiney    3-20 (AET)

Report: Shane Brophy at Semple Stadium

Players of the Match:
Paul Flynn (Kiladangan) & John Meagher (Loughmore/Castleiney)
SCORERS - Kiladangan: Billy Seymour 0-8 (5 frees); Paul Flynn 0-7; Bryan McLoughney 1-2; Sean Hayes 0-4; Alan Flynn 0-3; Dan O’Meara, Declan McGrath, Willie Connors (s-cut), Andy Loughnane 0-1 each.
Loughmore/Castleiney: John McGrath 1-10 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); Noel McGrath 0-5; Evan Sweeney, Tomas McGrath 1-0 each; Joseph Nyland 0-2; Brian McGrath, Liam Treacy, Tommy Maher 0-1 each.

A county final for the ages and what a way for Kiladangan to finally add their name to the Tipperary senior hurling roll of honour as Bryan McLoughney’s last gasp goal decided an enthralling contest on Sunday.

It was a pity someone had to lose this epic encounter but thankfully it didn’t go to a penalty shootout as Bryan McLoughney bore down on goal he could take taken the easy option to bring his side level but he went for glory and in the process wrote his name in Kiladangan GAA folklore.

In essence the only way to beat this Loughmore/Castleiney team is to be ahead with little or no time left on the clock such was the sheer bloody mindedness of that group of players, and no little skill, to be in a game that had no right to considering how little of the ball they had in the first three quarters of the match. 

It was Kiladangan’s wastefulness that allowed them to stay in the game, as well as Loughmore’s ruthlessness in taking their chances when they presented themselves, including the three goals with all an example of team play with Ciaran McGrath (twice) and Noel McGrath could have gone for goal themselves but played in Evan Sweeney, Tomas McGrath and John McGrath in better positions to goal inside 22 minutes.

Those three sucker punches would have knocked out many a good team, but it showed the belief and mental toughness within the Kiladangan group that they responded each time and trailed by just two points at half time (0-12 to 3-5).

Some of the first half wides were confidence-sapping but they kept going, inspired by captain Paul Flynn who was the consistent presence in attack throughout the 82 minutes of action, finishing with seven points from play. Young Sean Hayes revelled in the open spaces early on and finished with four points before tiring while Billy Seymour again top scored with eight points, three from play.

Dan O’Meara, Joe Gallagher and Bryan McLoughney were least impactful but the latter two stood up when they needed to most with Gallagher claiming the vital puckout to play in McLoughney, who had been subbed off on 44 minutes before coming back on in the fourteenth minute of extra time where he would score 1-2 and be the match-winner.

Defensively, apart from the goals, Kiladangan were solid with Alan Flynn given the man-marking responsibility on Noel McGrath and while the Loughmore man had a wonderful game in his own right, so did Flynn who got forward himself to score three points. 

David Sweeney did what he does best in shutting down the oppositions key forward with little or no impact from John McGrath until he went to full forward in the second half, while Declan McGrath had his best game at this level.

Behind them after a nervy start with the concession of the three goals Darragh Flannery, James Quigley and Fergal Hayes worked their way into the game in front of Barry Hogan who could do very little with the three goals but his alertness to get the ball back into play quickly after John McGrath’s late 65 was noteworthy also.

16            Wides                               9
13            Frees Conceded              19
15/32            Own Puckouts won      20/45
1            Yellow Cards                      2
0            Red Cards                          0

Into the second half, the game was beautifully set-up and we wondered what we would get next. Kiladangan were continued to play the game on their terms and by the 36th minute they were level.

However, they could never shake off a Loughmore side that you felt were hanging on for dear life but they always managed a score when they needed one with Noel McGrath and the hugely industrious Joseph Nyland coming much more into the game. John McGrath became a greater influence when moved to full forward where he would contribute four points from play thereafter, while in defence John Meagher produced a performance for the ages at centre back, coming out and clearing ball after ball from half time onwards, with John Ryan and Joseph Hennessy also having powerful games.

The second half pendulum see-sawed and going into the last five minutes when Brian McGrath pointed, Loughmore held a two point lead but back came Kiladangan with two frees from Billy Seymour and an equaliser from Declan McGrath, and when Paul Flynn landed a super point from the wing in the second minute of added time it looked as if Kiladangan had snatched victory until Noel McGrath produced a moment of magic right on the Old Stand side-line, 70 yards out with little back-swing to send the ball between the posts and into extra time (0-23 to 3-14).

In a game of such fine margins, key misses are noteworthy and Loughmore will point to two misses frees by John McGrath from scoreable positions and one easy one for Noel McGrath by his standards but in a game of high stakes, pressure even gets to the great players.

The searing heat and energy already exerted saw both sides make numerous mistakes in the first period of extra time but it made the game extra compelling as Loughmore went in ahead by a point at the changeover (3-17 to 0-25) with Noel McGrath again pulling the strings, including a sumptuous pass for a Liam Treacy point.

Four minutes into the second period, Loughmore were two ahead again when Bryan McLoughney was sent back in and within seconds he had pointed before Alan Flynn got forward to win a free to being the sides level once more.

It looked as if Loughmore sub Tommy Maher would be the hero as he fired over an 80th minute point but within seconds, the only mistake John Meagher made in the game in miss-hitting a clearance that went straight to Bryan McLoughney for the equaliser.

One minute of added time was announced but the drama didn’t end there as Kiladangan looked like they had cracked when James Quigley and Barry Hogan failed to deal with a ball in the square, conceding a 65 which John McGrath nervelessly split the post.

The minute had been played but there was time for one more play with Barry Hogan getting the puckout away within seconds of the white flag being waved, and as they say the rest is history and history is what it is for Kiladangan.

TEAMS - Kiladangan: Barry Hogan (7); Darragh Flannery (7), James Quigley (8), Fergal Hayes (7); Alan Flynn (9), David Sweeney (7), Declan McGrath (8); Willie Connors (6), Tadhg Gallagher (7); Sean Hayes (8), Joe Gallagher (6); Dan O’Meara (6); Paul Flynn (10), Billy Seymour (8), Bryan McLoughney (7). 
Subs: Andy Loughnane (7) for McLoughney (44); Martin Minehan (6) for O’Meara (56); Bryan McLoughney for Connors (14 ET); Darren Moran (6) for McGrath (15 ET)
Loughmore/Castleiney: David Kennedy (7); Lorcan Egan (8), Willie Eviston (6), Joseph Hennessy (8); John Ryan (7), John Meagher (10), Aidan McGrath (7); Brian McGrath (7) , Ciaran Connolly (6); Joseph Nyland (8), John McGrath (8), Noel McGrath (10); Tomas McGrath (6), Ciaran McGrath (7), Evan Sweeney (6). 
Subs: Conor McGrath (6) for T McGrath (58); Liam Treacy (6) for Connolly (53); Ciaran Connolly for Ciaran McGrath (HT ET); Tommy Maher (7) for A McGrath (14 ET).
Referee: Michael Kennedy (Newcastle).