Roscrea’s Munster Final pedigree
By Liam Hogan
As Roscrea prepare for next Sunday’s Munster Intermediate Hurling final against Monaleen, thoughts of past Munster final successes must surely be uppermost especially in their supporters.
Yes, Munster finals are not unique to Roscrea. As part of the clubs most successful era when they won five of their six county finals in 1968, ’69, ’70, ’72 and ’73 they also reached four Munster finals in 1969, 70, 72 & 80, winning the first two.
Having won the 1969 county final, Roscrea began the Munster championship with a quarter final win over Killarney in February 1970. They accounted for Mount Sion in the semi-final on May 3rd before facing Cork’s Glen Rovers, 3-6 to 1-6 in the final on April 11th, 1971, in Tipperary Town.
Roscrea looked in trouble until they introduced their star man Francis Loughnane in the second half. Scores were tied at 1- 4 each when he made his appearance and after Glen Rovers went three in front, Loughnane scored a goal in the 49th minute to level. Patsy Harte gave Glen Rovers the lead with a free, but Loughnane goaled again in the 51st minute. Another Harte free left the minimum between the teams but points by Harry Loughnane and then Francis sealed a first Munster title for Roscrea.
Roscrea: Tadgh Murphy; Michael Hogan, Kieran Carey, Brendan Maher; Patsy Roland, Tadgh O’Connor, Jimmy Crampton; Aidan Spooner (1-0), Mick Minogue (0-1); Donie Moloney, Michael Nolan, Jody Cunningham (0-3, 2f); Joe Tynan, Liam Brussels, Harry Loughnane (0-1). Subs: Francis Loughnane (2-1); Willie Stapleton.
Glen Rovers: Finbarr O’Neill; M Toomey, M Lane, Denis O’ Riordan; Sean Kennefick (0-1), Martin O’Doherty, Denis Coughlan; Mick O’Halloran, Sean O’Riordan; Patsy Harte (0-4f), John Young (0-1), Teddy O’Brien (0-1); Michael Corbett (1-1), Liam McAuliffe (0-1 65), Martin Kenneally. Subs: Gerry O’Sullivan, J McCarthy.
Roscrea made it a three-in-a-row of county final wins following victory over Thurles Sarsfields in the 1970 final. Their Munster campaign commenced with a quarter final victory over Killarney on December 7th and a semi-final win over Ballyduff/Portlaw in February 1971. The Munster final against Clarecastle was played on August 18th, 1971, in Limerick with Roscrea winning 4-11 to 1-6.
Francis Loughnane’s first half goal gave Roscrea a 1-6 to 1-3 half time lead. After the break, Clarecastle, including county stars Paschal Russell and Tom Slattery, were coming into their own when Roscrea hit the high point with Donie Moloney and Joe Cunningham each finding the net to put the Tipp champions out of reach. Clarecastle had a player sent in the 53rd minute but two minutes later Liam Spooner found the net for goal number four.
Later in the year, Roscrea were crowned the first All-Ireland Club champions when they defeated Offaly champions St. Rynagh’s in the final at Birr, the first official All-Ireland club final.
Roscrea: Tadgh Murphy; Mick Hogan, Kieran Carey, Brendan Maher; Patsy Rowland, Tadgh O’Connor, Jimmy Crampton; Mick Minogue, Donie Moloney (1-1); Jodie Spooner (0-1), Francis Loughnane (1-5), Liam Spooner (1-3); Joe Tynan (0-1), Liam Brussels, Joe Cunningham (1-0). Subs: Michael Nolan, Brendan Shorten.
Clarecastle: Joe Considine; Oliver Plunkett, Pat Moloney, Gerry Scanlon; Paul Higgins (0-1), Tom Slattery (0-1), Pat Talty; Michael Slattery, Paschal Russell (0-1); Harry Russell, Dermot Fitzgerald 1-2, Frankie McNamara; Ger Commane (0-1), Christy Guinnane, Aidan McNamara. Subs: F Power, M Donnelly.
On November 12th, 1972, Roscrea defeated Borris-Ileigh to win their fourth County title in five years. They progressed to the Munster final with wins over Mount Sion and Newmarket-on-Fergus before taking on Glen Rovers in the final on April 22nd, 1973, where Glen Rovers won 2-9 to 1-10 in Fermoy.
Roscrea played with the breeze in the first half but suffered an early setback when Liam McAuliffe found the net in the sixth minute. The lead change hands throughout the first half and Joe Cunningham’s goal in the ninth minute helped Roscrea on their way and by the 21st minute they were 1-4 to 1-1 in front. Liam McAuliffe scored a second goal in the 24th minute and gave Glen Rovers the lead but Roscrea regained the lead before the Cork champions levelled matters by half time, 1-6 to 2-3.
After Francis Loughnane scored his fifth point Roscrea were two in front with twenty remaining but Glen Rovers hit four unanswered points to take the lead. Loughnane narrowed the gap with a free but Cork star, Denis Coughlan, replied with a 65 to seal victory.
Glen Rovers: Finbarr O’Neill; Mick O’Halloran, Gerry O’Riordan, Martin O’Doherty; Gerry O’Sullivan, Teddy O’Brien, Paddy Barry; Denis Coughlan (0-2, 1’65), Pat Doherty (0-1); Mick Ryan (0-2), Tom Buckley, Patsy Harte (0-2); John Joe O’Neill, Liam McAuliffe (2-2), John Young.
Roscrea: Tadgh Murphy; Tom Tynan, Mick Hogan, Brendan Maher; Jimmy Crampton (0-1, s-cut), Patsy Roland, Jody Spooner; Donie Moloney, Liam Spooner; Francis Loughnane (0-6f), Mick Minogue, Joe Cunningham (1-1); Joe Tynan (0-2), Jackie Hannon, Billy Stapleton.
Roscrea put an end to Kilruane’s ambitions of winning four-in-a-row of county titles in the 1980 decider and they played their first Munster championship game in seven years with a win over Waterford champions Tallow in the quarter final, followed by a semi-final win over Newmarket-on-Fergus. The Munster final against St’ Finbarr’s of Cork was played in Fermoy on November 30th, 1980, where Roscrea were edged out 2-12 to 1-14.
In taking on a club side with the calibre players like Ger Cunningham, Tony Maher, Donal O’Grady, Jimmy Barry Murphy and Charlie McCarthy, players who won All-Ireland medals in Cork’s three-in-a-row from 1976-78, this Roscrea side really pushed the Cork champions all the way.
The concession of a Jimmy Barry Murphy goal in the opening minute made life difficult but Roscrea recovered and led 0-10 to 1-4 at half time. After scores were level for the fourth time, a Ger O’Connor’s goal in the 39th minute moved Roscrea in front but Eamon Fitzpatrick’s goal in the 41st minute gave the Barr’s back the lead. Roscrea were back in front by the 46th minute through Liam Spooner and they kept their noses in front until the 55th minute when Charlie McCarthy levelled and added another free to seal victory.
St Finbarr’s: Ger Cunningham; Tony Maher, Donal O’Grady, John Blake; Denis Burns, Bertie O’Brien, Niall Kennefick (0-1); John Cremin (0-2), Jerry Murphy; John Meyler, Christy Ryan (0-1), Tomas Maher; Eddie Fitzpatrick (1-0), Jimmy Barry Murphy (1-2), Charlie McCarthy (0-6, 5f, 1 pen). Subs: Malachy Kennedy, Kevin O’Driscoll.
Roscrea: Joe Rowland; Kevin Brady, Jodie Spooner, Brendan Maher; Kevin O’Connor (0-3, 1f, 1’65), Tadgh O’Connor, Peter Ward; Liam Spooner (0-2), Peadar Queally (0-2); Ger O’Connor (1-1), Jackie Shanahan, John Stone (0-1); Joe Tynan (0-1), Francis Loughnane (0-4, 3f), Joe Butler. Sub: Roger Ryan.