Kilruane MacDonagh's Championship Sucess 1975
As Kilruane MacDonaghs footballers began their 1975 football campaign few if any players harboured ambitions of ultimate success. The county senior football championship was played on an open draw and twenty teams participated.
The first round pitted Kilruane against southern kingpins Clonmel Commercials in Holycross. Scores were level four times in the first half but a John Quinlan goal gave MacDonaghs a two-point interval lead. Jim O Meara added a second goal in the 41st minute and four minutes later Kilruane moved the ball swiftly the full length of the field where full forward Sean O'Meara raised a third green flag. This crucial score spurred MacDonaghs on to record victory on a 3-7 to 1-9 scoreline, which was an upset for the books to say the least.
Seven times champions Fethard were to provide the opposition in the second round in Thurles. A brace of goals from Jim Williams and Sean O'Meara saw MacDonaghs take a three-point lead into the dressingroom at the break. On the resumption Fethard piled on the pressure but goalkeeper Tony Sheppard made some inspirational saves and Kilruane held out for a two-point win with the score 2-6 to 1-7 in their favour.
In the quarter final they faced Fr. Sheehys of Clogheen at Holycross. The North team was always in control of this game and ran out comfortable winners on a 1-11 to 0-6 scoreline.
The 1972 champions Kilsheelan-Kilcash blocked MacDonaghs path to the final. This was a tense low-scoring game, played at Cashel on August 10, with Kilruane leading I-4 to 1-2 at half time. Scores were even scarcer on the turnover but as time was running Kilsheelan edged a point ahead. Then Paddy Williams lofted a long range free into the Kilsheelan square where his brother Gilbert flicked the ball to the net. The score stood despite Kilsheelan protestations that it was a square ball. MacDonaghs added an insurance point to book a final spot on 2-5 to 1-5 scoreline.
Against all the odds Kilruane MacDonaghs had reached the decider. The hurlers were also cutting a path to the final. All training was focused on the hurling but the week of the football final the small ball took a temporary backseat. 1973 champions and football specialists Loughmore Castleiney stood between the team and a fairytale ending.
The newspaper pundits didn't give Kilruane much chance. One of them screamed: 'Loughmore-Castleiney set for County Football Title'. However, they were also covering their backs and one of them stated that 'the North Tipp side were outsiders in most of their games in the competition and didn't let that trouble them.' Another spoke of Kilruane's 'peak condition' and that they would have an advantage in their 'home ground' of Nenagh.
Few in the 4,000 attendance in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh ˆ the crowd was swelled by the county senior hurling semi-final between Moneygall and Moycarkey-Borris which preceded it - would have given Kilruane a chance at halftime. They had squandered innumerable opportunities in the first half and trailed by five points at the break with the score 1-7 to 1-2.
The second half was a different story, however, as McDonaghs shed their inhibitions and thundered into the game. Just two minutes had elapsed when full-forward Sean O'Meara flicked the ball to the net and Kilruane were on their merry way. They had drawn level by the 58th minute and hit the front when Sean O'Meara passed the ball to substitute Noel (Sonny) Killackey who tucked it in the corner for the golden goal. Loughmore laid siege to the Kilruane goal in search of the equailser but had to be content with a point. MacDonaghs were not to be denied and were crowned champions on a scoreline of 3-6 to 1-10. Selectors Paddy Quinlan, Hughie McDonnell and Frank Brady had worked the oracle.
The winning team was as follows: Tony Sheppard, Donnchadha Minogue, Denis O'Meara (capt.), Brian O'Reilly, John Kelly, Paddy William, Dinny Cahill, Tom Killackey (1-0), Phil Reddan, Seamus Hennessy (0-1), Jim Williams, Jim O'Meara, Gilbert Williams (0-1), Sean O'Meara (1-4), John Quinlan. Sub: Noel Killackey (1-0) for John Quinlan.
Referee: George Ryan (Lattin-Cullen)
It was the first time Kilruane had played in the senior football final and it was the first time in sixty years that a club team from the North division had been victorious.
Kilruane must have exhausted their effort in the county final. They had a bye to the semi-final of the Munster club football championship and played the Cork champions, Nemo Rangers, at Ballinlough on November 1st. The result was a massacre, 7-15 for Nemo and 0-3 for the Tipperary champions.
The North senior football championship was a separate competition to the county championship. Five teams affiliated., Kilruane played Silvermines in the semi-final on February 15, 1976 and were defeated.
County Football Final program, October 25, 2009