By Cathal Ryan
Loughmore Castleiney 4-10
Moyle Rovers 2-10
On Wednesday evening last Littleton played host to an enthralling County Under 21 A Football Championship Semi Final that saw Mid Tipperary champions Loughmore Castleiney produce a classy display to derail their South opponents Moyle Rovers.
Loughmore Castleiney gained an early advantage with a sublime goal from Noel McGrath in the fifth minute as he powered through the heart of the Rovers defence before exchanging passes with Liam McGrath and firing a devastating shot low and hard to the corner of the net.
Playing with the slight breeze, the Mid Champions gained an even more positive advantage 20 minutes in when once more Noel and Liam McGrath combined.
On this occasion Noel soloed 40 yards from the middle of the field before hand passing to Liam who delightfully stepped inside his opponent before unleashing an unstoppable left footed effort.
Moyle Rovers gave themselves a pathway back into the match in the 23rd minute just when the game was beginning to slide away from them. As play advanced down the left wing Thomas Hills run to the edge of the square went unnoticed as the Loughmore defence was lured to the ball. Rovers manufactured a pass to the unmarked Hill and without hesitation he gathered and riffled to the net from 14yards with his right boot to leave the half time score 2-5 to 1-4.
The second period began with more optimism for the south champions with captain Peter Acheson pointing immediately from the restart. As the half wore on the game was still on a knife edge and Rovers were closing the gap until John Meagher passed the ball into the path of the flying Brian McGrath. He showed a clean pair of heels to his markers and fired to the net once again for Loughmore.
Rovers put up a fantastic battle and again narrowed the gap to two points with three minutes remaining on the clock with an outstanding goal from full forward Liam Boland.
Peter Acheson delivered a free kick into the inside line and when Boland gained possession he was still 25 yards from goal but he stepped gracefully onto his left and floated a shot into the top corner of the net that was unstoppable.
As the men from the south began to rally Loughmore Castleiney showed the character of champions. They sealed victory just as stoppage time approached when Eamon Connolly batted the ball to the net for their fourth goal in a superb game of football.
The craft of Noel McGrath and Liam Treacy aligned with the devastating scoring of Liam McGrath played no small part in forging a deserved win for the mid side.
Loughmore Castleiney: Thomas Quinn; Kevin Johnson, Willie Eviston, Paddy Moynihan; Darragh Butler, Aidan McGrath, Lorcan Egan; Eamon Connolly (1-0), Noel McGrath (1-0); John Meagher (0-1), Liam Treacy (0-3), Brian McGrath (1-0); Liam McGrath (1-6, 2F), Cian Hennessy, Tomas McGrath. Subs: Henry Maher for L. Egan (40).
Moyle Rovers: Robert Ryan; David Mulcahy, Shane Heffernan, Denis McGrath; Shane Foley, Sean Boland, Cathal Quigley; Jack Lonergan (0-1), Peter Acheson (0-2); Philip Quirke, David McGrath (0-2), Thomas Hill (1-0); Liam Carey, Liam Boland (1-4, 4F), Brian Smith (0-1). Subs: Darragh Dwyer for L. Carey (25), Eoin O Connor for D. Dwyer (35), Liam Mangan for B. Smith (54).
Referee: Keith O’Brien.