Roscrea end 40-year wait for North U21 'A' Hurling title
GAA: North Tipperary Under 21 ‘A’ Hurling Championship Final
Report: Liam Hogan in Templederry
Player of the Match: Liam Seacy (Roscrea).
SCORERS – Roscrea: Conor Donovan 0-11 (10 frees, 1 s-cut); Diarmuid McLoughlin 0-4; Jamie Ryan 1-0; Dylan Hogan, Sam Dooley 0-2 each; Kenny Lee 0-1.
Toomevara: Darragh McCarthy 1-11 (0-9 frees); Jake Hackett 1-1; Cian Ryan 0-1.
Roscrea captured their eighth North Tipperary Under-21 ‘A’ Hurling title, and first since 1984 when they defeated Toomevara in a well-contested divisional final on Sunday.
The Rossie’s were successful because they were the better all-round team with some very good individual displays of skill and brilliant scores. Four of their forwards made the scoresheet, bar Leigh Loughnane and Conor Dooley but they made huge contributions, especially Loughnane whose ability to win high ball was a key asset.
Further out the field, Conor Donovan was an expert from placed balls and was his teams’ top-scorer in an unerring display with eleven points, ten from frees plus a spectacular sideline-cut early in the second half when his side were in the ascendency.
The Roscrea defence was solid all through with Brian O’Rourke and Conor Shanahan shoring up the half backline in partnership with Luke Seacy who enjoyed the role as sweeper cum centre back to give a man of the match display.
Contrast that with Toomevara where eighteen-year-old Darragh McCarthy was their biggest threat with the centre forward contributing 1-11 (0-9 frees). He began in the attack but was switched to midfield after twenty minutes as Roscrea were gaining the upper hand and he impressed ever more with two massive long-range points from play at a time his side needed them approaching half time.
Earlier in the half, McCarthy scored Toome’s first goal in the seventh minute when his speculative high shot from the right wing deceived Roscrea goalkeeper Harry Loughnane with the ball slipping from the outstretched hand of the former Tipperary minor custodian. In his defence the bright sunshine didn’t help.
The goal gave Toome a 1-1 to 0-2 lead with the Roscrea scores coming from Diarmuid McLoughlin and a free by Conor Donovan. McCarthy increased Toome’s lead with a free, one that could have been greater but four wides in the opening twelve minutes.
At the other end, the Roscrea attack showed much more potential. Leigh Loughnane impressed with a string of high catches as Diarmuid McLoughlin added two points to leave the minimum between the teams.
Helped by the stiff breeze, Toomevara increased their lead to four with Jake Hackett supplying Toome’s first score from play in the thirteenth minute, quickly followed by two McCarthy frees. However, Roscrea managed to curb the Toome headway with Kenny Lee springing to life with a score before Conor Donovan added another free.
Led by Dan Farrell, Cian Ryan and Cathal Frend, the Toome defence didn’t make too many errors but bringing Darragh McCarthy to the middle sector was handsomely repaid with two spectacular points from inside his own sixty-five giving Toome a four point lead for the second time after 24 minutes.
However, Roscrea refused to let Toome out of sight and two Donovan frees from long range kept them close. Darragh McCarthy added another free but a similar Donovan effort left it 1-8 to 0-9 at half time.
With Roscrea now helped by the breeze, they didn’t waste much time in reducing the deficit with Donovan on target once more, followed by an equalising score from play by Dylan Hogan after an assist by Leigh Loughnane after 38 minutes.
Little was to separate the teams as scores would be level twice more in the next nine minutes with Toomevara taking the lead each time through Cian Ryan and Darragh McCarthy (free) only to be matched with two Donovan points, the first a brilliant sideline cut.
The next three minutes, however, were where the game was decided with Roscrea taking over and were handsomely rewarded with three unanswered points by Diarmuid McLoughlin, Donavon (free) and Sam Dooley by the 50th minute.
Darragh McCarthy’s free reduced Toome’s worries but the defensive play of Eoin Larkin, Brain O’Rourke and Liam Seacy for Roscrea proved too good for the remainder of the Toome attack and up front the Roscrea attack made hay as Donovan converted two more frees before Sam Dooley scored spectacularly from the left touchline to give Roscrea a five point advantage, 0-19 to 1-11.
Toomevara did everything for a reprieve and four minutes from time they found it when Jake Hackett, now operating in the full-forward line, fired first time to the Roscrea net.
An exciting finish was in prospect as Toomevara came forward once more but a critical intervention by Liam Seacy saw Roscrea initiate an attack with Kenny Lee’s high ball from midfield flicked to the net from close range by Jamie Ryan. It took a minute before the goal to be confirmed as referee John Cleary went in to consult his umpires.
Suddenly, Roscrea’s lead was out to five points but Toome kept in the hunt with Darragh McCarthy recording his tenth point in the 59th minute but that pressure was relieved when Dylan Hogan doubled his account in the third minute of added time with Darragh McCarthy’s eleventh point, bringing the scoring to an end.
When the final whistle sounded, the big Roscrea support were relieved to see the title back after a gap of forty years with subsequent final defeats in 1987, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2006 & 2021 were now a faded memory as team captain Liam Seacy accepted the Delaney Cup from North Board Chairperson Michael Tierney.
TEAMS - Roscrea: Harry Loughnane (6); Lee Doran (7), Eoin Larkin (7), Cathal McDonald (7); Brian O’Rourke (8), Luke Seacy (Capt, 8), Conor Shanahan (7); Conor O’Donovan (8), Kenny Lee (7); Diarmuid McLoughlin (8), Dylan Hogan (7), Leigh Loughnane (8); Sam Dooley (7), Conor Dooley (7), Jamie Ryan (6).
Sub: Josh McMahon (NR) for McLoughlin (58).
Toomevara: Cormac Hogan (6); Cathal Frend (7), James Duff (6), Joshua Powell (7); Cian Ryan (7), Dan Farrell (7), Oisin Troy (6); Kenny Ryan (Capt, 6), Jake Hackett (7); Adam Hall (6), Daragh McCarthy (8), Kieran Boyle (6); Tim Flaherty (6), James Meagher (6), Conor Grace (6).
Subs: Eoin Healy for Flaherty (41); Joseph Coffey (6) for Meagher (49); Jack Doran (NR) for Grace (57).
Referee: John Cleary (Knockshegowna).