Bryan McLoughney celebrates the dramatic winner
Kiladangan won it. Lost it. Then won it again in an enthralling Tipperary SHC final at Semple Stadium.
Paul Flynn’s gravity-defying score from the shadow of the O’ Riain stand looked to have secured history for the Puckaunn based side. Enter the magician that is Noel McGrath. He conjured up a sensational equalizing point, as a jaw-dropping decider went the distance. Brian McLoughney who had been taken off in normal time was the unlikely hero. His nerveless cameo as time elapsed ensured an epic Tipperary hurling championship got the decider, it so richly deserved.
Kiladangan were fastest out of the blocks at Semple Stadium on Sunday. Sean Hayes and Dan O’Meara on target, before John McGrath, opened Loughmore’s account with a free.
Loughmore then landed the first serious blow as Joseph Nyland’s surging run found Ciaran McGrath. He showed great awareness to pick out Evan Sweeney, who pulled the first time to the net.
Kiladangan regrouped with points from Billy Seymour and Paul Flynn. They were wasteful in front of goal, shooting ten wides. Equally important for Loughmore was netminder David Sweeney’s fine save to deny Billy Seymour.
The sides were level at the water break, 0-6 to 1-3. Loughmore then upped the ante in spectacular fashion. They stuck for two goals in as many minutes from Tomas McGrath, and then John McGrath.
Kiladangan though were unbowed and were having the better of the exchanges, as a result, Loughmore were by now living off scraps. Consequently, despite the concession of three goals Kiladangan only trailed by two at half time, 3-5 to 0-12.
Kiladangan were then level by the 36th minute and Loughmore looked to be fading. Noel McGrath and Joseph Nyland’s scores were crucial as the sides were level at the second water-break.
The final quarter delivered epic drama as Loughmore edged two points clear. Kiladangan then pointed from Billy Seymour and had a further addition from Declan McGrath. Paul Flynn’s nerveless effort looked to have won the game. There was one last twist in injury time as Noel McGrath pointed magnificently to send it into two extra periods.
It looked like his younger brother John had won the day in added time of extra-time. His 65′ looked to be the final act, until McLoughney applied the kill-shot.
It was rough justice on a gallant Loughmore. The defeat and the manner of it will really hurt. At least they will get a shot at redemption next week in the football decider. With this in mind, the extra- time exertions will have done them no favors. Can they somehow go back to the well one last time?
For Kiiladangan the long journey from the junior ranks to the Holy grail has ended with scenes of unbridled joy. The character they displayed here was heroic, and somehow they found a way to win when all hope seemed lost.
In the end, the moment summed up Kiladangans amazing journey. With 105 years of history on the line, Brian McLoughney could have settled for a draw. There was still on a second chance saloon in the penalty shoot-out. That is not the Kiladangan way. Thats why they are worthy champions.
Loughmore/Castleiney: John McGrath 1-10 (0-5f, 0-1 65); Noel McGrath 0-5; Evan Sweeney, Tomas McGrath 1-0 each; Joseph Nyland 0-2; Brian McGrath, Liam Treacy, Tommy Maher 0-1 each.
Kiladangan: Billy Seymour 0-8 (5f); Paul Flynn 0-7; Bryan McLoughney 1-2; Sean Hayes 0-4; Alan Flynn 0-3; Dan O’Meara, Declan McGrath, Willie Connors (s-cut), Andy Loughnane 0-1 each.
Kiladangan Team: Barry Hogan; Darragh Flannery, James Quigley, Fergal Hayes; Alan Flynn, David Sweeney, Declan McGrath; Willie Connors, Tadhg Gallagher; Sean Hayes, Joe Gallagher; Dan O’Meara; Paul Flynn, Billy Seymour, Bryan McLoughney.
Subs: Andy Loughnane for McLoughney (44); Martin Minehan for O’Meara (56); Bryan McLoughney for Connors (14 ET); Darren Moran for McGrath (15 ET)
Loughmore/Castleiney: David Kennedy; Lorcan Egan, Willie Eviston, Joseph Hennessy; John Ryan, John Meagher, Aidan McGrath; Brian McGrath, Ciaran Connolly; Joseph Nyland, John McGrath, Noel McGrath; Tomas McGrath, Ciaran McGrath, Evan Sweeney.
Subs: Conor McGrath for T McGrath (58); Liam Treacy for Connolly (53); Ciaran Connolly for Ciaran McGrath (HT ET); Tommy Maher for A McGrath (14 ET).
Referee: Michael Kennedy (Newcastle).