By Michael Dundon firstname.lastname@example.org
Loughmore-Castleiney 0-9; Moyle Rovers 0-6
By defeating Moyle Rovers in Saturday’s Cidona county senior football final at Cashel, Loughmore-Castleiney completed a marvellous double for the year, adding to the under-21 crown won earlier, again beating Moyle Rovers. The Mid Tipperary champions were not flattered by the three points winning margin, their display confirming the excellent showing in the semi-final when they dethroned the reigning champions, Cahir.
In annexing their first title for twelve years, Loughmore-Castleiney were at their gutsy best. They battled for everything, won most of the fifty-fifty exchanges and their game plan to curb the influence of the highly talented Declan Browne worked a treat. It couldn’t have been simpler – cut off the supply to the All-Star striker – easier said than done usually but on this occasion, with Miceal Webster a towering figure at midfield and David Kennedy magnificent at the heart of the defence, Browne was living off crumbs, although he still managed to score four of his side’s points, two from play.
Brought forward to facilitate Declan Browne’s involvement with the Irish team in the Compromise Rules test with Australia on Sunday, this was a smashing final which kept a fine gathering on their toes to the end. Loughmore-Castleiney made all the running but Moyle Rovers were never too far behind and with Browne ready to pounce there was always the chance of a goal to inspire them.
Indicative of the self-belief in the Loughmore-Castleiney camp was the management’s decision to leave the policing of the Moyle Rovers genius in the capable hands of the oldest member of their team, Ned Ryan, and the great-hearted defender did not disappoint. Without ever resorting to any untoward tactics, he had a more successful afternoon shadowing Declan Browne than anyone else this year, although it has to be acknowledged that the quality of the support around him was a big help.
Loughmore-Castleiney showed a hunger for the contest that their rivals never matched. From the very start and with Miceal Webster ranging all over the field, they established a firm grip on the game. With the half-back line also dominating their opponents, much of the play centred in the Moyle Rovers half in the opening quarter but some slack shooting, six wides in fourteen minutes, was a worry for the Mid men.
By then they were three points clear, thanks to Declan Laffin’s two frees and Tommy Ormonde, and cruising. Declan Browne hadn’t got a decent ball but he finished off Moyle Rovers’ first serious attack with a 16th minute point. Two minutes later he added another, again from play, taking the return of his own acutely angled free-kick, to slot over. Moyle Rovers were beginning to settle but Miceal Webster shot a magnificent long-range point for Loughmore-Castleiney before Browne again pointed a Moyle Rovers free.
Loughmore-Castleiney continued to hold the advantage. Tommy Ormonde, having a very positive outing at wing forward, had his second point in the 25th minute and three minutes later they looked to have secured a vital goal when Kieran McGrath finished to the net a move started by Webster and carried on by Evan Sweeney but referee Paddy Russell ruled that McGrath had handled the ball on the ground when Sweeney’s pass slipped from his grasp.
It was a major let-off for Moyle Rovers which kept them in the hunt although Martin Gleeson rounded off the half with a Loughmore-Castleiney point to put them an unflattering 0-6 to 0-3 ahead at the break.
Moyle Rovers were in trouble and they knew it. Two changes at the interval saw T J Wall and John Shanahan introduced for the second half. In the latter stages of the first half Padraig Foley had moved from attack to midfield to good effect and a lively start to the second half was rewarded with Ronan Desmond and Declan Browne points to cut the lead to the minimum after nine minutes.
Loughmore-Castleiney suffered a setback with the withdrawal through injury of Paul Brennan who made way for David McGrath but they nearly had a goal in the 10th minute when Evan Sweeney’s shot was stopped by Ian Browne in the Moyle Rovers goal and Browne bravely foiled Sweeney’s drive at the rebound to keep his side in the game.
Loughmore-Castleiney absorbed the Rovers’ pressure and gradually began to regain the initiative. A Tommy Ormonde point in the 14th minute after Webster, Seamie Bohan and Sweeney linked up, got them moving forward again. Declan Browne was off-target from a free in the 23rd minute, a rare error by him, but two minutes later Declan Laffan pointed for Loughmore-Castleiney and in the 25th minute added another to put them four points clear.
Moyle Rovers now threw everything into the fray. They came forward in waves but Loughmore-Castleiney were equal to the challenge, conceding only one point, that scored by James Williams in the 27th minute. The Midmen were helped by some rather sloppy approach-work from the Rovers brigade but at the end were delighted to hear the long whistle from Paddy Russell.
Euphoric Loughmore-Castleiney supporters poured onto the field to salute their heroes who were the most deserving of winners and well worthy of the accolades showered on them. Their’s is a parish with a very proud tradition in football and today’s representatives are following in the footsteps of some of the county’s greatest exponents of the game. Six of the squad were involved in the 1992 success and this win makes amends for defeat by Moyle Rovers in the final four years ago. The title won at under-21 level, following on a minor success last year, suggests that Loughmore-Castleiney have plenty of young talent coming along and will be a force for some time to come.
Two men shone out more than all others in this triumph for Loughmore-Castleiney. Team captain Miceal Webster certainly led by example. His first half work and leadership was inspirational and even if his influence was less obvious in the second period, he was still involved in most of their best passages. Likewise David Kennedy at centre half-back. He was rock-like in his defensive work, cutting off the supply line to dangerman Browne inside and his deliveries from defence were intelligently placed, setting up counter-attacks.
This pair were the backbone of the Loughmore-Castleiney win but Tommy Ormonde, Evan Sweeney, Declan Laffin, Ned Ryan and Paul Ormonde were others who had a big say in the destination of honours.
It has been a disappointing year for Moyle Rovers. Having already lost the minor and under 21 finals, they had hoped to redeem the situation by capturing "the big one" but it was not to be. They will take consolation from the fact that they too have a lot of young players coming on stream and their moment of glory cannot be too far off. They can have no complaint with this result however. They were beaten by a better, more motivated side, and must wait another year to chase their 6th title, their last win having come 4 years ago.
Declan Browne showed his exemplary club spirit by risking his chances at international level to take part. By his own standards he had a quietish day but he was till the big threat in attack, and one felt that if he got any kind of decent service, he could have brought about a different result. A bird never flew on one wing, they say, and so it was with Moyle Rovers. With Browne’s influence reduced, they had little else to offer in attack, their half-forwards being particularly ineffective and they also struggled at midfield.
However, full credit to Aidan Foley and Noel Wall in defence, Padraig Foley when at midfield, and Ronan Desmond who all, along with Declan Browne, made a mighty effort to tip the scales in their favour.
Loughmore-Castleiney scorers – D.Laffan 0-4, (3 frees); T. Ormonde 0-3; M. Webster and M.Gleeson 0-1 each.
Moyle Rovers scorers – D.Browne 0-4 (0-2 frees); J. Williams and R. Desmond 0-1 each.
Loughmore-Castleiney — Dominic Brennan; Gary Sweeney, Ned Ryan, Paul Ormonde; Tom King, David Kennedy, Eddie Connolly; Miceal Webster, Paul Brennan; Martin Gleeson, Seamus Bohan, Tommy Ormonde; Evan Sweeney, Declan Laffin, Kieran McGrath. Substitute — David McGrath for P. Brennan.
Moyle Rovers — Ian Browne; David Conway, Aidan Foley, Noel Wall; Kevin Morrissey, Liam Cronin, Robbie Boland; Niall Fitzgerald, Padraig Kelly; Ronan Desmond, Padraig Foley, James Williams; John McGrath, Declan Browne, Brian Mulvihill. Substitutes — T. J. Wall for McGrath; John Shanahan for Kelly; Tom Lane for Mulvihill.
Referee — Paddy Russell, Emly.