John McGrath shrugged off what looked like a debilitating groin strain to inspire Loughmore-Castleiney to a narrow win over a determined Killenaule outfit at Borrisoleigh on Tuesday night in the preliminary quarter-final of the Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship.
Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling
Championship Preliminary Quarter-Final
Loughmore-Castleiney 3-12 Killenaule 1-16
Loughmore-Castleiney trailed by five points (2-6 to 1-14) with ten minutes to play in this entertaining contest, but hit 1-5 in a whirlwind six-minute period to rescue the situation in spectacular fashion.
Killenaule turned up, big time. Declan Ryan’s men led 0-10 to 0-6 at the break having fired nine first half wides and even though they shipped two John McGrath goals early in the second half Killenaule recovered to carve out a five-point advantage by the 50th minute.
Ultimately, Killenaule came undone due to the brilliance of John McGrath who appeared to pick up a groin strain in the opening half. McGrath, however, battled on gamely and fired 2-4 from play in all.
As a result of this contest the line-up for the quarter-finals is now complete. On Saturday, September 29th at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh (2.30pm) Toomevara will take on a resurgent Drom & Inch while defending champions Thurles Sarsfields face Kilruane MacDonagh's at 4pm. Kiladangan meet Clonoulty-Rossmore on Sunday, September 30th in Dolla (2pm) while at 3.30pm at the same venue Loughmore-Castleiney take on Nenagh Éire Óg.
Playing with the aid of a stiff breeze Killenaule led 0-7 to 0-3 with fifteen minutes on the clock. Eoin Barry (two) was on fire at corner-forward while the Killenaule defence was aggressive enough to knock Loughmore back on their heels. Indeed, only for the brilliance of Noel McGrath the Loughmore lads could have found themselves cut further adrift.
Loughmore-Castleiney steadied up thanks to efforts from John McGrath and Noel McGrath (two, one free), but Killenaule closed out the opening half impressively with an Eoin Barry point and two beauties from Tony Doyle helping Declan Ryan’s men toward to 0-10 to 0-6 interval advantage.
It is worth noting that Paudie Feehan made a big impact on the opening half and created a goal-scoring opportunity for John O’Dwyer in the 16th minute, but Loughmore corner-back Tomás McGrath did especially well to hook the inter-county star at an opportune moment.
Loughmore-Castleiney needed a little encouragement and found it in the 36th minute when Liam McGrath’s effort at a point hit a post and dropped into the lap of John McGrath who rifled home from close range.
John McGrath was struggling to move around by this stage of the contest and situated himself at the edge of the square with Loughmore determined to seek out their talisman at each and every opportunity. And, in the 37th minute Brian McGrath lofted in a massive delivery which John McGrath managed to divert past a helpless Mathew O’Donnell in the Killenaule goal (2-6 to 0-10).
To their credit Killenaule responded to the challenge brilliantly. Despite playing into the breeze the South champions landed three successive points thanks to Michael Doyle and John O’Dwyer (two frees) to re-claim the lead.
Paudie Feehan created a goal-scoring opportunity for Tom Stakelum in the 42nd minute and although Stakelum was hooked on this occasion Feehan set-up Kieran Bergin for a three-pointer two minutes later and Killenaule led by four. A John O’Dwyer strike from play opened a five-point gap with fifty minutes played (1-14 to 2-6) and Loughmore-Castleiney appeared significantly distressed.
Declan Laffan’s men, however, wrenched the initiative away from Killenaule in the 51st minute when Noel McGrath found Joseph Nyland and the wing-forward buried his rasping shot in the top right-hand corner (3-6 to 1-14).
John Meagher landed an inspirational long-range effort seconds later before Ciarán McGrath found an equaliser in the 54th minute. John McGrath then fired over three consecutive points from play during a spectacular two-minute period - the direct back-to-front deliveries were working a treat for a Loughmore-Castleiney team who now led by three (3-11 to 1-14).
Killenaule hit back through John O’Dwyer (free) and almost conjured a game-changing moment on the hour mark when Daniel Guinan pulled on a ruck ball which flew agonisingly wide with Loughmore ‘keeper Evan Sweeney reduced to the role of spectator.
Another converted O’Dwyer free left one in it, but Killenaule erred gravely from the re-start - Brian McGrath was left free and gathered a smart short puck-out before landing a massive effort from well inside his own 65-yard line.
Loughmore-Castleiney: Evan Sweeney, Tomás McGrath, Joseph Hennessy, Lorcan Egan, John Ryan, John Meagher (0-1), Brian McGrath (0-1), Ciarán Connolly, Eoghan Ryan, Joseph Nyland (1-0), Noel McGrath (0-5, 0-2 frees), Liam Treacy, John McGrath (2-4), Ciarán McGrath (0-1), Liam McGrath. Subs: (42nd) Anthony Ryan for Liam Treacy.
Killenaule: Mathew O'Donnell, Paddy Codd, Declan Fanning, Jimmy Feehan, Stephen Browne, Joe O'Dwyer (0-1), Eoin O'Connell (0-1), Thomas Keaveney, Michael Doyle (0-1), Tony Doyle (0-2), John O'Dwyer (0-7, 0-6 frees), Paudie Feehan, Tom Stakelum, Kieran Bergin (1-1), Eoin Barry (0-3). Subs: (47th) Daniel Guinan for Tom Stakelum, (59th) Pat Kerwick for Kieran Bergin.
Referee: Peter Carroll (Burgess).
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