County Senior Hurling Championship - 1986
Kilruane-MacDonaghs went into the 1986 senior hurling final as favourites to a Borrisoleigh team which had given too many indifferent performances during the year and, in fact, since they previously won the championship in 1983. As well, Kilruane had beaten them twice during the year, in the north league final by 0-14 to 2-6 and in the championship by 1-15 to 0-7. Many saw the latter performance as one of the worst by Borrisoleigh for a long time. On the other hand, Kilruane came to the final with an impressive record. In twenty-seven matches they had lost only once, by a point to Lorrha in the 1986 league, and they had won seven finals in a trot: the All-Ireland 7-aside in 1984, north and county finals, Munster and All-Ireland club finals in 1985 and the north league and championship in 1986.
But there were straws in the wind.
Some of Kilruane's victories were not very impressive. They just got there against Toomevara and they were unimpressive against Loughmore-Castleiney in the county semi-final at Cashel. Len Gaynor was worried at the prolonged pressure on the team. The intensive championship and league programme was beginning to take its toll on the side. And there was the loss of Dinny Cahill through injury. On the other hand, Borrisoleigh were growing in confidence. They impressed in the north play-off against Toomevara. They gave a slick performance against Carrick Swans in 'the county quarter' and they pushed Holycross-Ballycahill aside easily in the county semi'. Their trainer, Paddy Doyle, had established a good rapport with the players and they were giving a tremendous response.
Kilruane-MacDonaghs had taken their ninth north title at Nenagh on August 17. They met a tough match in Toomevara, who were seeking their twenty-third title but their first since 1962. Not until the last five minutes did Kilruane clinch it. Toomevara had a young team, over half of whom were twenty-one or less, and would have won but for inexperience and wasted chances. They were unlucky to lose two players - Michael O'Meara and Pat King - through injury in the first twenty minutes. At half-time Toomevara led by 1-5 to 0-4 but in the end Kilruane had a three-point advantage in a scoreline of 1-12 to 2-6. On a sunny Sunday afternoon a good attendance saw the ball thrown in by John Joe Maher of Roscrea.
On the same day Carrick Swans and Eire Og were fighting it out in the south. Both teams had easy victories in the semi-finals. The Swans overwhelmed Ballingarry by 5-13 to 2-7 and the Killenaule/Mullinahone combination were equally impressive against Carrick Davins by 5-11 to 2-8. The final was played at Clonmel and never reached great heights. The closeness of the scoring kept the crowd interested. The Swans had three points to spare at the finish, 0-13 to 2-4, having led 0-6 to 1-2 at the interval. It was the Swans' fourth title in a row and their nineteenth in all.
The third final to be played on August 17 was the Mid at Littleton. The contestants were Loughmore Castleiney and Holycross-Ballycahill. This was a most extraordinary game. Loughmore started like an express train and had 1-6 on the scoreboard within nine minutes without reply. Holycross then came into the game and at half-time Loughmore had a seven-point lead, 1-10 to 0-6. During the second half Holycross whittled away at the lead and were only a point behind with a couple of minutes left. Then, in the twenty-ninth minute, Loughmore got their only score, a point from a line ball. This was the final score, to leave Loughmore ahead by 1-11 to 0-12 and give them their second Mid title.
As usual, the West had its final played at an earlier date, July 27 at Dundrum. It was an unusual pairing, Eire Og and Golden-Kilfeacle. None would have predicted this clash in the beginning of the year when Cappawhite and Cashel were hot favourites to meet in the decider. Eire Óg were seeking their eighth title while Golden were looking for their third. There was a good crowd to see a ding-dong struggle in which Golden got off to a flying start with four points. However, Eire Og got into their stride and led 2-4 to 0-4 at the interval. Good defensive play in the second half and some flying movements by corner-forward John Quinn kept Eire Óg in the hunt and they had two points to spare in the end, 2-9 to 1-10.
Three quarter-finals were decided on August 24. The Mid teams were drawn against the West and the venue was Cashel. Loughmore-Castleiney had an easy victory over Golden-Kilfeacle. For the first fifteen minutes the contest was close enough but the Mid champions then went on a scoring rampage and impressed everyone with the accuracy of their shooting. At half-time they led by 2-13 to 0-4 and were ahead 3-23 to 1-7 when the final whistle sounded.
In the second game Holycross-Ballycahill had an equally impressive victory over the West champions, Eire Og. In a reasonably close first half the Mid men were ahead 1-7 to 1-3 at hall time. Eire Óg had a point within a minute of the resumption but it was to be their last score. Holycross went on to dominate the game and emerge victorious by 2-16 to 1-4.
Kilruane had little difficulty in overcoming the South runners-up at Holycross on the same day. Two goals in the first quarter put the North champions firmly in control and their dominance was further increased when Eire Og's Joe Dwyer was sent to the line midway through the first half. At half time the score was 2-6 to 1-4 in favour of Kilruane and they went on to win by 4-13 to 1-6.
The fourth quarter-final wasn't played until the following Sunday because of the necessity of a play-off in the North to decide the second team. Borrisoleigh, as runners-up in the league, and Toomevara, as runners-up in the championship, played off at Roscrea on August 24. In a smooth performance Borrisoleigh had thirteen points to spare in a score of 3-19 to 2-9. Borrisoleigh met the South champions at Boherlahan and showed by their performance that they were firmly back on the road to county honours. Carrick put up a good show in the opening half but Borrisoleigh took their chances better and led 2-7 to 1-3 at the interval. Three goals by Carrick in the third quarter kept Swan interest alive but Borrisoleigh were able to come back after each goal with fluent scores. In the end they had eight points to spare on a scoreline of 3-17 to 5-3.
Because the All-Ireland under-21 finals were fixed for Thurles on September 14, the county semi-finals had to be refixed. In a solution that wasn't welcomed by anyone the games were split to separate venues on separate evenings. Kilruane and Loughmore played at Cashel on Saturday evening, September 13. During the first half Kilruane dominated and led by 1-10 to 0-2 at the interval.
Loughmore seemed totally out of their depth and they had the misfortune to lose one of their players, Pat Treacy, who was sent to the line just before halftime. At that stage there was hardly anyone present who gave the Mid men a chance. But Loughmore came out in the second half and gave a determined and aggressive performance that made them a totally changed side from what they were in the first half. They fought for every ball and harried Kilruane and in the end almost overcame the handicap of being a man short. The final score was 1-14 to 2-8 in favour of Kilruane and some question marks about their performance.
The second semi-final was played at Templemore on the evening of September 14. Borrisoleigh had a comfortable nine points victory over a very disappointing Holycross. The North men were in control from the beginning and showed far greater sharpness than the Holycross men. The latter had the wind in the first half but squandered chance after chance and were behind 0-4 to 0-6 at the interval. Within five minutes of the restart Borrisoleigh had two goals to their credit and they killed whatever hope Holycross had. In the end, Borrisoleigh were victorious by 3-10 to 1-7.
The County Final
About ten thousand spectators attended the county final at Thurles on September 28. Brilliant sunshine made it the warmest day for a county final for years. A month's dry weather had the Thurles pitch at its liveliest. The clergy had the V.I.P. section to themselves as the politicians weren't invited as part of the G.AA protest against V.AT. on hurleys and D.I.R.T. on the Association's deposits. The mascot of the Borrisoleigh team, a cock, was in attendance, under the charge of Shane Tierney.
The game was too tense to be a classic but was gripping all through. Right up to the final minutes one had the feeling that Kilruane would smash home a couple of goals and just get there as they had done so many times during the year. But such was not to be the case. As time wore on and Borrisoleigh gained in confidence the likelihood grew less and less. By the end it was obvious that Kilruane had nothing left and Borrisoleigh were undoubtedly champions.
In such a closely-fought encounter the scoring was low. Borrisoleigh had the breeze in the first half and led by 0-7 to 0-4 at the interval. It didn't seem enough. However, they scored first in the second half and as time progressed certain things became obvious. The Borrisoleigh backs were not giving anything away. The North men had the pull at centrefield and Philip Kenny was giving veteran Dinny O'Meara a most unhappy hour.
The dry sod and the hot day didn't suit the defending champions. Especially at centrefield Enda Hogan' was caught again and again for pace. Neither side scored a goal, which made it the first goal-less final since 1887. Paddy Williams, who had done so much for the team in the past, never got going and was replaced by David Quinlan. Borrisoleigh were the faster, hungrier and more determined team and well deserved their seven-point victory in a scoreline of 0-14 to 0-7. County chairman Mick Lowry presented the Dan Breen cup to winning captain Mick Ryan. Philip Kenny was presented with the Man of the Match award by Donie Shanahan, representing Frost's Garage, Nenagh.
The Borrisoleigh team was:
Noel Maher, Francis Spillane, Timmy Stapleton, Mick Ryan (capt.), Richard Stakelum, Gerry Staple ton, Bobby Ryan, Timmy Ryan, Francis Collins, Aidan Ryan, Noel O'Dwyer, Conor Stakelum, Mick Coen, Phi lip Kenny, John McGrath. Trainer: Paddy Doyle.
The Kilruane MacDonagh team was:
Tony Sheppard (capt.), John Cahill, Dinny O'Meara, Seamus Gibson, Michael Hogan, Jim O'Meara, Gilbert Williams, Joe Banaghan, Enda Hogan, Gerry Williams, Jim Williams, Philip Quinlan, Pat Quinlan, Paddy Williams, Eamon O'Shea. Subs.: Seamus Hennessy for Banaghan, Dave Quinlan for P .. Williams. Trainer-coach: Len Gaynor.
Referee: John Maher, Boherlahan.
West: Dundrum, July 27 - Eire Og 2-9, Golden-Kilfeacle 1-10
Mid: Littleton, August 17 - Loughmore-Castleiney 1-11, HolycrossBallycahill 0-12
South: Clonmel, August 17 - Carrick Swans 0-13, Eire Og 2-4
North: Nenagh, August 17 - Kilruane MacDonaghs 1-12, T oomevara 2-6
Play-off: Roscrea, August 24 - Borrisoleigh 3-19; Toomevara 2-9
Cashel: August 24 - LoughmoreCastleiney 3-23, Golden-Kilfeacle 1-7
Cashel: Ausust 24 - Holycross Ballycahill 2-16; Eire Og 1-4
Holycross: Ausust 24 - Kilruane MacDonaghs 4-13, Eire Og 1-6
Boherlahan: August 31 - Borrisoleigh 3-17; Carrick Swans 5-3
Cashel: September 13 - Kilruane MacDonaghs 1-14, LoughmoreCastleiney 2-8
Templemore: September 14 - Borrisoleigh 3-10, Holycross-Ballycahill 1-7
Thurles: September 28 - Borrisoleigh 0-14, Kilruane-MacDonaghs 0-7
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1986, pp 18-21