County Senior Hurling Championship - 1987
As it turned out, history had to be made in the 1987 county senior hurling final. Not only was it the centenary final, but neither of the contestants had ever won it before. Winners, Cappawhite, were making their first appearance. Runners-up, Loughmore-Castleiney, had been there once before in 1983 when they lost by 0-17 to 1-11 to Borrisoleigh. Another interesting thing about the final pairing was the absence of a team from north Tipperary. Not since 1965, when Thurles Sarsfields defeated Carrick Davins by 3-10 to 0-7, was there a final without a northern team. Finally, it is arguable that never before was a final played between two less-populous parishes.
Fethard was the venue for the south final on August 23 when neighbours Ballingarry and Killenaule fought it out before a good crowd on a dry afternoon. In a hard-fought encounter Ballingarry scored two goals in a late flourish to win their third title by 2-11 to 2-3.
Two finals were decided on September 13. In one of the best mid finals for years, at Holycross, Loughmore-Castleiney held on in a thrilling final quarter to beat Thurles Sarsfields by 2-11 to 2-10. Nine miles away at Cashel, Cappawhite took the west title in an amazing contest with Clonoulty-Rossmore. It was a game of two halves. The first was Clonoulty's who led by 3-7 to 1-4 at half time. The second was Cappawhite's, who turned that nine-point deficit into an eight point victory in a final scoreline of 4-15 to 310. Clonoulty's eclipse in the second half was as swift as it was incredible.
The result of the north final at Nenagh on September 20 was most unexpected. Lorrha, conquerors of All-Ireland champions Borrisoleigh and last year's defeated north finalists, Toomevara, were fancied to win but, in an inept display, they were well-beaten by a Kilruane team, badly decimated by injury and suspension. The final score was 2-14 to 0-12. Lorrha's tale of woe continued the following Sunday at Borrisokane when they lost to Roscrea, league winners, in a play-off to decide on the second team to represent the division in the quarter finals.
Three quarter-fmal games were played on September 27. There was a double bill at Cashel where the mid played the south representatives. Loughmore-Castleiney made heavy weather of beating Killenaule, who performed much better than people expected of them. They suffered the loss of Joe O'Dwyer early in the game and put up a great performance, especially in the third quarter. In the end Loughmore-Castleiney were in front by 2-13 to 3-6. The second game was more clearcut. Except for a brief period in the second half, Thurles Sarsfields controlled the game against Ballingarry and ran out easy winners by 4-12 to 1-8.
Holycross was the venue for the Kilruane-MacDonaghs versus ClonoultyRossmore game. A large crowd turned up to see an indifferent first half transformed into an exciting final thirty minutes during which the lead changed several times. In the end a draw was the fairer result with Clonoulty-Rossmore 2-9 and Kilruane 0-15.
The game was replayed at Boherlahan on October 4 in conjunction with the fourth quarter-final between Cappawhite and Roscrea. KilruaneMacDonaghs took a grip on proceedings from very early and won easily by 1-18 to 0-9 from a very disappointing Clonoulty side. Cappawhite gave one of their finest performances for some time when they defeated a depleted Roscrea side by 120 to 1-14. The game was wide open for three quarters of the hour but the west side pulled away in the final quarter to record a six-point victory.
The semi-final pairings for Thurles on October 18 were Kilruane MacDonaghs versus Loughmore-Castleiney and Thurles Sarsfields versus Cappawhite.
Both games were undistinguished from a hurling point of view but both were redeemed bv the closeness of the scoring and by the fact that neither was decided until the last five minutes.
Thurles Sarsfields looked good at half-time having kept Cappawhite to a point lead, 1-7 to 1-6, with the wind in the first half. However, they missed the boat with two goal chances in the middle of the third quarter. The first was fluffed and the second disallowed. Either of these might have given them control of proceedings. Instead, Cappawhite re-established themselves, especially by the move of Conor Ryan to centreback and had the edge in the final quarter to win by 2-15 to 1-14.
Loughmore-Castleiney's victory was dramatic. A few minutes from time Pat McGrath pointed from about ninety yards to level the scores. But he undid the good work by fouling Seamus Hennessy soon after and the latter made no mistake with the resultant free to put the north men ahead again. But from the puck-out, Eamon Brennan sent to Liam Corrnack, who passed to Michael McGrath and the full-forward turned and crashed the ball to the net. Liam Corrnack added another point for good measure to give the mid champions victory by 1-12 to 0-12.
Semple Stadium was the venue on November 1 for the Centenary final. Gerry Long of Knockshegowna was given the opportunity of refereeing his first county final. Before the game the Moycarkey Pipe Band played the teams around the field. Also in that parade were juvenile representatives of all the clubs in the county, carrying their club colours. Patron of the G.A.A., Archbishop Thomas Morris, was escorted onto the field before the throw-in by county chairman, Michael Lowry, and introduced to the respective captains, John O'Neill of Cappawhite and John Cormack of LoughmoreCastleiney. The game got underway at 3.06.
Everybody had forecast a fairly close game with the verdict at the end of the hour in favour of Loughmore-Castleiney. People from the west, particularly, believed that Cappawhite hadn't delivered their best during the year and were not as good as in 1984, when they should have taken Moycarkey-Borris. The optimists believed that Cappawhite had yet to deliver the goods but that this would be the day.
Cappawhite's opening efforts confmned the fears of the most persistent pessimist: they were just plain bad and Loughmore-Castleiney looked brilliant as they raced into an eight point lead within twenty minutes. Pat McGrath looked superb as he chalked up a personal tally of 1-4 of his side's 1-7. But, if the players were anxious and unsure on the field, the Cappa mentors were certain where the trouble lay. They took off Miley Coughlan and tried John Ryan on McGrath, but to no avail. There was only one solution, to send Ger Ryan Bawn back to police the Loughmore danger man, even if it involved upsetting the half-back line. This was done and the game began to stabilise for Cappawhite and they had reduced the deficit to 1-8 to 1-6 at the interval.
However, the best laid plans began to go awry early in the second half, Loughmore opening up a five-point gap in the ninth minute with a Liam Cormack goal. Soon after came a second Cappawhite move that had a major impact on the eventual outcome - the moving of Ger O'Neill to centreforward. Added to this was the loss of Loughmore of their full-back, Peter Brennan. Cappawhite surged back and drew level with eight minutes to play. Loughmore retaliated with a Pat McGrath point to go ahead. Pat O'Neill came back to level and, with a minute to go, Austin Buckley got a brilliant point to give the west champions victory. A final effort by Pat McGrath to level was in vain.
Cappawhite deserved a county final. For the past five years they have entertained their supporters with some tantalising hurling. They have dominated hurling in the west and their victory was but rightful consolation for past failures outside the division. Apart from their hurling ability they are a fine club, a model of what a club should be and a bunch of players and officials who give trouble to nobody.
And what of Loughmore-Castleiney: they will find consolation in no words of condolence. Such words might have substituted for victory in 1983 when they lost on their first county final appearance. But, in 1987, they wanted victory and had it in their grasp only to see it roll away from them in the end like Sisyphus and the rock.
Pat O'Neill was given Man of the Match and scored ten points of his side's total. Following closely behind were Ger O'Neill and Ger Ryan (B). Others to impress were Michael Buckley, about whom doubts were cast beforehand, and Simon Ryan, who did a power of hurling at centrefield. For Loughmore-Castleiney, Pat McGrath must stand out as well as Eamon Sweeney, Jim Maher and Liam Cormack.
Cappawhite - D. O'Neill, M. Coughlan, M. Buckley, D. Ryan (P), D. Hennessy, A. O'Neill, G. Ryan, E. Ryan, S. Ryan, A. Buckley, C. Ryan, P. O'Neill,J. O'Neill (Capt.), G. O'Neill, M. McDermott. Subs: J. Ryan (for Coughlan), E. Maguire (for J. O'Neill).
Loughmore-Castleiney - F. McGrath, R. Stapleton, P. Brennan, J. Maher, P. Cormack, L. Cormack, M. McGrath, P. McGrath. Subs: J. Treacy (Capt.) for S. Bohane, T. Larkin for P. Brennan, S. Bohane for N. Ryan.
Results at a Glance:
Cashel, September 27
Loughmore-Castleiney 2-13, Killenaule 3-6. Referee: Michael Cahill (Kilruane-MacDonaghs).
Thurles Sarsfields 4-12, Ballingarry 1-8. Referee: George Ryan (Lattin-Cullen).
Holycross, September 27.
Clonoulty-Rossmore 2-9, Kilruane MacDonaghs 0-15. Referee: Willie Barrett, Ardfmnan.
Boherlahan, October 4.
Kilruane MacDonaghs 1-18, Clonoulty-Rossmore 0-9 (Replay). Referee: Willie Barrett, Ardfmnan. Cappawhite 1-20, Roscrea 1-14. Referee: John Maher, Boherlahan-Dualla.
Thurles, October 18
Cappawhite 2-15, Thurles Sarsfields 1-14. Referee: Willie Barrett, Ardfmnan.
Loughmore-Castleiney 1-12, Kilruane MacDonaghs 0-1 Referee: George Ryan. Lattin-Cullen.
Thurles, November 1
Cappawhite 1-17, Loughmore-Castleiney 2-13. Referee: Gerry Long (Knockshegowna).
Cappawhite: County and West S.H. Champions 1987
Back row. left to right: N. Buckley, G. O'Neill, T. Coughlan, S. Ryan (L), J. Ryan (P), C. Ryan (H), G. Ryan (B), D. O'Neill, M. Ryan (L), A O'Neill, J. Barry,, E. Maguire.
Front row, left to right: A. Buckley, P. Buckley, P. O'Neill, M. Buckley, J. O'Neill (capt.), M. McDermott, M. Coughlan, D. Hennessy, D. Ryan (P), E. Ryan (B), D. Quirke
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1987, pp 28-29