The County Senior Hurling Championship - 1990
'We stand in an historic place on an historic evening', said Holycross-Ballycahill chairman, John Ryan, to a huge roar of approval from an enthusiastic crowd gathered in the village green of Holycross on the evening of October 14, after the club's success against Cashel in the County senior hurling final. It was the realisation of a thirty-six year dream and it brought them their fourth county final in six appearances. For Cashel it was the end of a dream of winning their first senior hurling title and they now find themselves sharing the unenviable top spot in the league of losing finalists: with Lorrha they have appeared in and lost five county senior hurling finals!
In the beginning of the year the conversation was about Clonoulty-Rossmore's chances of retaining their title. They had the talent and the experience and the assistance of Len Gaynor and a reasonabJy easy first round encounter against Eire Og. Victory put them through to a semi-final against Cappawhite at the revamped Sean Treacy Park which they won without impressing. In the meantime Kilruane-MacDonaghs had qualified in the north and Len Gaynor terminated his contract with them. So, they went into the west final at Golden on August 12 without his guidance or any other replacement. Their opponents were Cashel, who had a new purpose and direction as a result of securing the services of Justin McCarthy as coach. The game was a close and enthralling contest which was clinched in Cashel's favour by a Cormac Bonnar goal five minutes from time. The final score was Cashel 2-11 Clonoulty-Rossmore 0-15.
The north final was played at Nenagh on July 29 and Toomevara were Kilruane-MacDonagh's opponents. The game was one of the worst finals for years, filled with fouls, low scoring and frequent stoppages. At the end of the hour Kilruane MacDonaghs were ahead by 2-7 to 0-5. Three weeks later the south final was played at Clonmel between Carrick Swans and Killenaule. It was a game of two halves with Killenaule dominating the first and leading by eight points at half-time before Carrick switched it on after the interval and were in front by 3-7 to 2-7 at the final whistle.
The last of the four divisional finals to be played was the mid. This did not take place until August 26 when HolycrossBallycahill and Loughmore-Castleiney faced each other at Boherlahan. John Cormack got a point thirty seconds into injury time to snatch a draw for Loughmore-Castleiney in a score of 1-10 all. The replay was at Semple Stadium on September 8 and it lasted 90 minutes. At half-time the sides were level at 1-5 to 0- 8. In the opening exchanges Holycross were well on top and had 1-4 on the score-board to a mere point for Loughmore after ten minutes. However, the latter made a few switches and scored five points in the next eleven minutes. In the second half Loughmore took the initiative and were five points up with five minutes of ordinary time remaining. Holycross came back with a string of four points, Loughmore went ahead again and, in the fifth minute of injury time Tony Lanigan got the equaliser for Holycross to leave the full-time score 1-11 each. In the extra time the game remained extremely even but Holycross had the edge in the final minutes and a goal in the last minute by Stephen Dwan clinched the issue at 2-19 to 1-18 in their favour. It was a great win for Holycross and one which tested their resolve to the last.
County Quarter Finals
The county quarter-finals were played on the weekend of the football All-Ireland. Not a very satisfactory situation but one that arises yearly with a glut of fixtures for too few dates. Two of the games were played at Leahy Park, Cashel on September 15 and 16 and the remaining two at Semple Stadium on the 16th.
The mid and south divisions met at Cashel. On Saturday evening the south champions, Carrick Swans, played the mid runners-up, Loughmore-Castliney. The Swans went into the game as outsiders in most people's reckoning but they carried the game to Loughmore and for a time in the first half appeared capable of causing an upset. They led by 1-5 to 0-7 at half-time as a result of a Tom Waters goal in the 24th minute. In fact Waters had a second chance shortly before half-time but it was stopped by Eamon Sweeney. Swans stayed with the mid men for a short time after the interval but then Loughmore pulled away and were ahead by 0-17 to 1-8 when Johnny McDonnell blew the final whistle
The second contest at Cashel was played on Sunday evening. The final result might give the impression that the mid champions, Holycross-Ballycahill had it all their own way against the south runners-up, Killenaule, but it wouldn't be a complete picture of what happened. Slow to get going Holycross had three goals scored before Killenaule got going their first poirit coming in the fourteenth minute. However, they clawed their way back and gave a fine display especially in the third quarter when they reduced the lead to a mere three points. Even then they could have been better positioned but for many missed opportunities. In the end the mid men were comfortable winners by 4-17 to 3-9 with impressive scoring performances by Declan Carr, 7 and Stephen Dwan, 2-5.
Earlier in the day the other two quarter-finals were played at Semple Stadium. Cashel King Cormac's and Toomevara were first on the field with a one o'clock start. The north runners-up fielded completely reshuffled line out from their north championship campaign whereas the west champions had to play without an injured Pa Fitzell, who did, however make his appearance before the game was over. On the run of play there was little or nothing between the sides and had Toomevara been more disciplined in their approach the result might well have been different. In the event Toomevara had more scores from play than Cashel but they paid the price for committing needless fouls by being punished by unerring accuracy of Tommy Grogan, who found his mark ten times out of ten and gave Cashel victory by 0-16 to 1-5.
The second game turned out to be a great disappointment. County champions, Clonoulty Rossmore, surrendered their title in a most disappointing fashion to north title holders, Kilruane MacDonaghs. Much was expected of the champions but they failed to lift themselves to any great heights and several members of the side played well below form. Kilruane were hungrier and sharper and their centreback, Joe Banaghan, gave a fine display. The north champions led by 2-5 to 0-6 at the interval and were ahead by 3-8 to 0-9 at the final whistle.
The two mid teams were guarded for the semi-final pairings and the draw pitted Cashel against Loughmore-Castleiney and Holycross-Ballycahill against Kilruane MacDonaghs. Both games were played at Semple Stadium on October September 23 with Cashel and Loughmore providing the curtain-raiser. The west champions bridged a fifty-year gap when the qualified for their first county final since 1940 by beating the mid men 1-8 to 0-8. Playing with the wind in the first half Loughmore squandered many chances by going for goals when points were going abegging. Then John Grogan got a vital goal for Cashel five minutes before the interval to leave the half-time score 0-5 to 1-1. With the strong wind in their favour after the interval it appeared that Cashel should have the whipband. But the defences continued to reign supreme and it was only in the final quarter that Cashel pulled away to win by three points.
The second game ended in a draw. Far from being a classic it reached an exciting climax as Holycross-Ballycahill came from behind to level and then missed two great chances of outright victory in a hectic last five minutes. The sides were deadlocked six points each at the interval. In the second half Holycross went into a three point lead before Philip Quinlan levelled with a goal in the twelfth minute and then Jerry Williams got two points to put Kilruane into a match-winning position. However, the mid men came back to achieve an exciting draw.
The replay took place at the same venue a week later. Kilruane were eight points ahead after twenty minutes and seemed set for victory. But Holycross gradually came into the game and had cut the deficit, back to four points, 2-5 to 0-7 at the interval. They had the wind in their favour in the second half and a fine Stephen Dwan goal, nineteen minutes into the second half, put them in front for the first time. They stayed in that position and were three points ahead, 1-16 to 2-10, when referee, John Moloney, blew the final whistle.
The County Final
Holycross-Ballycahill had now played four Sundays in a row and sought a postponement of the county final, fixed for October 7. A special meeting of the Fixtures and Finance Committee was called and, as a result of a two-thirds majority, re-fixed the game for Saturday, October 13 - Sunday was out because Tipperary were scheduled to play their first league game against Limerick on that day. There was uproar at the news in Cashel and a decision taken not to play on Saturday. A further meeting of the Fixtures and Finance Committee was held and unanimously agreed to play the game at four o'clock on Sunday. In the meantime the league game was postponed and the late start was to accommodate patrons who wished to attend the senior football final at Cashel on the same day.
It was a most interesting pairing for a final. Holycross-Ballycahill, with three senior hurling titles to their credit were seeking their first victory since 1954. They were also striving to compensate for their defeat by Clonoulty-Rossmore in 1989. Cashel were going for their first ever senior hurling title and were appearing in a county final for the first time in fifty years.
A fine crowd of 12,000 turned up for the occasion and were warmed up by a great display of hurling in the minor final in which north champions, Erin's Hope, defeated Holycross-Ballycahill. All was in preparation for an epic encounter in the senior game when, about ten minutes before the throw-in, the heavens opened and the rain came down unrelentingly for the hour. With a strong swirling wind as well conditions were well nigh impossible and yet the players served up a remarkable display of hurling. The game was a closely contested affair in which defences dominated and the greater experience and maturity of Holycross won out in the end. The mid men seemed able to make better use of their opportunities and were more economical in their use of the ball while Cashel had to work extremely hard for all their scores. There were two points between the sides at half-time with Holycross ahead by 0-6 to 0-4 and, when Cashel drew level with eight minutes to go, it seemed as though they had the initiative. But Holycross threw in a sparkling finish with three brilliant points by Tony Lanigan and gave them victory by 0-13 to 0-10.
It was a well-deserved success by Holycross-Ballycahill. Great credit is due to a team that came back from last year's defeat and got through two draws on the way to achieving this victory. For Cashel it was a story of what might have been. Particularly galling was the disallowed goal in the twenty-second minute of the game, when a grand forward movement was finished to the net by Tommy Grogan, only to have play called back for a free. Also a talking point was the rain which slowed the game down and deprived the Cashel forwards of the fast breaking ball in which they revelled. But, when these considerations are trotted out they have to be balanced against the fact that Cashel scored only four points in the course of the hour and were it not for Tommy Grogan's excellent free-taking, a wider margin might have separated the sides at the end.
Holycross-Ballycahill: Pat Slattery, Johnny Doyle, Tom Dwyer, Ruari Dwan, Phil Cahill, Michael Doyle, Phil Dwyer, Declan Carr (Capt.), Pat Lanigan, Paddy Dwan, Stephen Dwan, Tony Lanigan, Paul Slattery, Robert Stakelum, Paul Maher. Subs: Gerry Fennessy for Phil Cahill.
Cashel King Cormacs: John Ryan, T. J. Connolly, Pat O'Donoghue, Joe Minogue, Conal Bonnar, Pat Fitzell, Tony Slattery, Colm Bonnar, Willie Fitzell, Ramie "Ryan, Cormac Bonnar (Capt.), James O'Donoghue, Ailbe Bonnar, John Crogan, Tommy Grogan. Subs: Michael Perdue for Joe Minogue; Sean Slattery for John Grogan.
Referee: Willie Barrett (Ardfinnan).
Man of the Match Award: Stephen Dwan.
Results at a Glance
Sept. 15: County Quarter-Final (Leahy Park, Cashel):
Loughmore-Castleiney 0-17 Carrick Swans 1-8. Referee: Johnny McDonnell (Roscrea)
Sept. 16: County Quarter-Final (Semple Stadium, Thurles):
Cashel King Cormac's 0-16 Toomevara 1-9. Referee: Phil Cahill (Holycross-Ballycahill).
Kilruane-MacDonaghs 3-8 Clonoulty-Rossmore 0-9. Referee: Willie Barrett (Ardfinnan)
County Quarter-Final (Leahy Park, Cashel):
Holycross-Ballycahill 4-17 Killenaule 3-9. Referee: Paddy Lonergan (Galtee Rovers).
Sept. 23: County Semi-Finals (Semple Stadium, Thurles):
Cashel King Cormac's 1-8 Loughmore-Castleiney 0-8. Referee: Willie Barrett (Ardfinnan)
Holycross-Ballycahill 0-12 Kilruane MacDonaghs 1-9. Referee: John Moloney (Galtee Rovers)
Sept. 30: County Semi-Final Replay (Semple Stadium, Thurles):
Holycross-Ballycahill 1-16 Kilruane MacDonaghs 2-10. Referee: John Moloney (Galtee Rovers)
Oct. 14: County Final (Semple Stadium, Thurles):
Holycross-Ballycahill 0-13 Cashel King Cormacs 0-10. Referee: Willie Barrett (Ardfinnan)
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 1991, pp18-19