Loughmore-Castleiney face Ardfinnan in this weekend's county senior football semi-finals.
The extraordinary Loughmore-Castleiney club will take on surprise packet Ardfinnan in the semi-finals of the Tipperary Water County Senior Football Championship on Sunday, October 14th at Holycross (2pm) while Cahir will host the meeting of Clonmel Commercials and Moyle Rovers (4pm). Incidentally, the clash between Loughmore-Castleiney and Ardfinnan will serve as a curtain-raiser to the county intermediate hurling final between Cashel King Cormacs and Thurles Sarsfields (3.30pm).
In the quarter-finals Loughmore-Castleiney beat Arravale Rovers (1-12 to 0-8) while Ardfinnan saw off the challenge of Ballyporeen in Cahir (0-22 to 0-9).
Renowned Kerry coach and former Tipperary supremo John Evans has sparked a transformation in the fortunes of Ardfinnan this season. Indeed, Ardfinnan cruised past a talented Ballyporeen in the last eight with Gerry Cronin, Billy Hewitt, Michael Barlo, Dylan Nugent and Brian Lonergan in outstanding form.
The Ardfinnan starting team against Ballyporeen read as follows: Michael Goonan, Michael O'Sullivan, Johnny Ryan, Eoin Walsh, Darragh O'Leary, Colin O'Shaughnessy, Gavin Whelan, Gerry Cronin, Seán Nagle, Billy Hewitt, Dylan Nugent, Aaron Lonergan, Michael Barlo, Daniel O'Regan and Brian Lonergan.
It is, however, hard to look past the relentless Loughmore-Castleiney men here.
Arravale Rovers recruited former Cork boss Conor Counihan to lead their senior project this season, but the West Tipperary men still struggled to land a glove on their Mid Tipperary counterparts in the last eight (1-12 to 0-8).
Loughmore-Castleiney started the following team against Arravale Rovers: Aidan McGrath, Lorcan Egan, John Meagher, Tomás McGrath, John Ryan, Ciarán McGrath, Joseph Hennessy, Noel McGrath, Joseph Nyland, Brian McGrath, Liam Treacy, Conor Ryan, Liam McGrath, Tommy Maher and Evan Sweeney.
Loughmore-Castleiney have won fourteen county senior titles in all and have shared the last six (2013, 2014 & 2016) with Clonmel Commercials (2012, 2015 & 2017) - Ardfinnan have won eight with their last materialising thirteen years ago (2005).
Commercials (seventeen titles) will be favoured to get the better of Moyle Rovers, but there is also simply no doubting Rovers’ ability to win the competition outright. Moyle Rovers last took the ultimate honours in 2009 (seven titles) while they suffered a final defeat to Clonmel in 2015 and to Loughmore in 2016.
And, the quality of Moyle Rovers’ last eight victory over Killenaule (3-13 to 1-9) suggests that Rovers are in a position to mount a real challenge. Killenaule are a terrifically talented side and featured in the 2017 decider, but Rovers put them away in real style despite trailing 0-2 to 1-4 by the end of the opening quarter.
Goals from Liam Boland and Seán Carey set the Moyle Rovers team on their way; a Moyle Rovers team which, of course, also featured Peter Acheson who, in an illustration of Rovers’ attitude this season, is being flown home from the Middle East for games.
The Moyle Rovers team which beat Killenaule read as follows: Ciarán Kenrick, Paddy Morrissey, Alan Campbell, Tadgh Fitzgerald, Luke Boland, Ross Mulcahy, David McGrath, Richard Power, Peter Acheson, Dara Ryan, Stephen Quirke, Danny Owens, Seán Carey, Liam Boland, Shane Foley.
Moyle Rovers, however, will have to produce an extraordinary performance to beat Clonmel Commercials who sailed past Kilsheelan-Kilcash in the quarter-finals (0-17 to 0-4).
And, Kilsheelan-Kilcash could have suffered an even heavier defeat had it not been for goalkeeper Evan Comerford who conjured a series of extraordinary saves to keep the defending champions at bay. Commercials did not neglect their defensive duties either. Indeed, Kilsheelan-Kilcash were not permitted to notch their only score from play until second half injury time.
The Clonmel Commercials team which started against Kilsheelan-Kilcash read as follows: Jake McDonald, Jamie Peters, Liam Ryan, Donal Lynch, Gavin Ryan, Kevin Fahey, Shane Taylor, Conal Kennedy, Jack Kennedy, Richie Gunne, Séamus Kennedy, Kevin Harney, Jason Lonergan, Michael Quinlivan and Pádraic Looram.
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