Ardfinnan, Senior Football Champions 1962, 1963, 1964
Ardfinnan senior footballers were threatening for a couple of years before they made their breakthrough in 1962. Two years beforehand they qualified for the South final, only to be heavily beaten by Clonmel Commercials. In 1961 the sides met again in the final but the result was reversed: Ardfinnan defeated their rivals convincingly by 4-9 to 2-4, to take their first divisional final in twenty-two years. On that occasion they had also beaten Commercials and went on to win the county final against a West selection. They didn't have such success in 1961, losing out to a North combination, St. Flannan's in the final.
The year 1962 was to be the start of a period of unrivalled success in the history of the club. They defeated Burncourt-Clogheen by 1-12 to 1-3 in the south final at Clonmel on September 9. They had a close contest with Galtee Rovers in the county semi-final, which was played at Clonmel on September 16. There was only a point between the sides on a 1-6 to 1-5 scoreline. They won their first county final since 1939 when they beat Thurles Crokes by 4-11 1-6 at Thurles on October 7. Ardfinnan led by 2-8 to 0-4 at the interval, and never looked to be in danger. The game was played before the Oireachtas semi-final between Tipperary and Kilkenny.
The Ardfinnan team lined out as follows: Paddy Quinn, Michael Moore, Tony Finn, Alfie McDermott, John J. Lonergan (Capt), Dick Keating, John Byrne, Patsy Myles, Billy Moloney, Pete Savage, Michael 'Babs' Keating, Stephen McCormack, Patsy Savage, John Keating, Michael Byrne. Referee: Sean Twomey (Arravale Rovers).
In the 1963 championship Ardfinnan had a convincing win over Fethard in the South final, played at Clonmel on September 15. They won by 2-8 to 1-2. They were too good for the North representatives, St. Flannan's in the county semi-final, defeating them by 1-10 to 0-3 at Thurles on October 13. The final was played at Templemore on November 3. Ardfinnan retained their title with 1-9 to 1-2 victory over Templemore. They led by 1-5 to nil at half-time. One unusual aspect of the game was that it featured brothers on opposite sides. Dick Keating played for Ardfinnan, while his brother, Benny, turned out for Templemore. The captain of the victorious Ardfinnan team received not only the O'Dwyer Cup, but a second trophy as well. The previous August the county board were presented with a beautiful and artistic trophy by John Fogarty, President of the Tipperary Association of New York. It was intended by the donors to be an incentive-to the efforts at restoring Tipperary football to previous prominence.
Ardfinnan: Paddy Quinn, Luke Hally, Michael Moore, Alfie McDermott, John J. Lonergan, Dick Keating (capt.), Patsy Myles, Stephen McCormack, Billy Moloney, Pete Savage, John Keating, Michael Byrne, Patsy Savage, Michael 'Babs' Keating, Patrick O'Brien.
Ardfinnan made it three-in-a-row in 1964. They had a close-run contest with Clonmel Commercials at Clonmel on September 20, before winning the South final by 1-11 to 2-7. Ardfinnan defeated Templemore by 1-10 to 0-8 in the county semi-final, played at Thurles on October 25. The county final was played at the same venue on November 8 and resulted in a convincing win for Ardfinnan. They beat St. Flannan's by 5-10 to 3-3. They were the easiest of winners over a disjointed and disappointing North selection, after leading by 4-5 to 1-1 at the interval.
Ardfinnan: James Moran, John J. Lonergan, Michael Moore, Alfie McDermott, Patsy Ryan, Dick Keating, Michael Byrne, Billy Moloney, Stephen McCormack, Pete Savage (0-4), Michael 'Babs' Keating (2-2), Patrick O'Brien (0-1), Patsy Savage (1-2), John Keating (0-2), Tom Ryan (0-1). Subs: John Ryan and Ed O'Dwyer. Referee: Billy Sweeney (Moyne-Templetuohy)
The club championship was inaugurated in the same year. However, the first matches weren't played until 1965. Ardfinnan had a bye to the Munster semi-final, and played Cooraclare at Kilrush on April 25. The match ended in a draw, 1-7 each, and Ardfinnan had hopes of success in the replay at Clonmel on July 4. However, they gave a disappointing performance and were beaten by 0-10 to 1-4.
Perhaps it reflected the decline in this great team. They failed to qualify for the South final in 1965, and they weren't to return to the county winner's enclosure until 1970.
Other County Final Victories
Ardfinnan won their seventh and last county final in 1974. Significantly, Thurles Sarsfields won their last - until this year - senior hurling championship in the same year. Will the victory of Sarsfields' last Sunday week be a good omen for Ardfinnan?
The 1974 county final was played in Cashel also, and the date was October 20. The county championship was played on an open draw system that year, and Lattin-Cullen, Fethard and Silvermines qualified for the semi-finals with Ardfinnan. The two South teams came through for the final. Ardfinnan led by 1-2 to 0-4 at the interval. Fethard dominated the third quarter, but failed to score, and Ardfinnan took their seventh title by 1-6 to 1-4. They lost to Doonbeg in the Munster Club championship.
Ardfinnan won the first of their seven titles in 1935. The final wasn't actually played until April 5,1936. They beat Fethard in the South final by 1-9 to 2-4 on October 20, and had to wait over five months for the final. This was played at Clonmel and Ardfinnan won easily by 3-5 to 0-1 for Templemore.
Having lost to Clonmel Shamrocks in 1937, Ardfinnan won their second senior title in 1939. They had difficulty getting out of the South, taking three games to defeat Clonmel Commercials by 1-3 to 0-1. The final didn't take place until October 1940, and Ardfinnan defeated a West selection by 1-3 to 1-1. Ardfinnan didn't figure again until the sixties when they won the historic three-in-a-row. The period 1965 and 1973 that followed was one in which the club lost much, much more than they won. In the nineteen finals played during these years Ardfinnan qualified for seven of them but won only one!
The roll of honour shows six defeats. In 1966 they lost by a point to Clonmel Commercials, 2-6 to 1-8. In 1968 they lost by a point to Kilsheelan, 1-11 to 2-7. In 1969 they lost by two goals to Clonmel Commercials, 2-13 to 0-13. Having reversed the result in the 1970 final, they were then to lose three more in a row! In 1971 they were defeated by Commercials, 2-8 to 1-9. They were two points behind Kilsheelan, 1-9 to 1-7, when the final whistle sounded in 1972, and they suffered their heaviest defeat in these years in 1973, when they went under to Loughmore-Castleiney by 2-10 to 0-7.
The one bright Iight during these depressing years was the victory in 1970. The open draw was in operation and the four teams to emerge for the semi-finals were from the South. Commercials defeated Moyle Rovers by 1-10 to 0-7, and Ardfinnan defeated Fethard by 2-12 to 2-7. The final was played at Clonmel on November 8 and resulted in a win for Ardfinnan by 1-11 to 2-2. They took the lead in the third minute and led by 1-8 to 1-0 at the interval, after playing with the wind. The game was marred by unseemly conduct n the sidelines. Referee John Moloney had a difficult task and sent two players to the line in the second half. It was an important victory for Ardfinnan, after losing three-in-a-row.
County Senior Football Final program, Cashel, October 30, 2005