Ross Peters, Clonmel Commercials, and Noel McGrath, Loughmore-Castleiney, during the Tipperary SFC Final.
Ross Peters, Clonmel Commercials, and Noel McGrath, Loughmore-Castleiney, during the Tipperary SFC Final.

Tipperary SFC Final: Loughmore-Castleiney triumph

Tipperary SFC Final

Loughmore/Castleiney    1-12 Clonmel Commercials     1-11

By Shane Brophy at Semple Stadium

An injury time goal from John McGrath finally ended Loughmore/Castleiney’s county final heartache as they edged past Clonmel Commercials in a compelling Tipperary Senior Football Final at Semple Stadium.

Loughmore, who had lost both senior hurling and football finals in 2020, and drew last weeks hurling final, trailed the whole way until Tipp hurling star McGrath goaled from close range to take the lead for the first time and held on to win their first football title since 2014.

Loughmore/Castleiney lined out with nine of the side which started the hurling final the previous week but were without key defender John Meagher who was ruled out with a hamstring injury while Brian McGrath’s broken thumb saw him forced to start from the bench.

The double-chasing side were again slow out of the blocks with Sean O’Connor and Colman Kennedy pointing inside three minutes for Commercials before county star Michael Quinlivan goaled in the fifth minute after penetrating runs from Conal Kennedy and Liam Ryan.

However, once Loughmore settled, they were the better team for the remainder of the half, dominating possession and were more methodical in their use of the ball, their first three scores coming from Conor Ryan frees either side of the water-break with John McGrath landing their first from play in the 24th minute to cut the gap back to four after two Jason Lonergan points from play had reasserted Clonmel’s command of the scoreboard briefly. McGrath also added a point from a free as Commercials led 1-5 to 0-6 at half time, with only the width of the crossbar denying Liam McGrath a goal for Loughmore.

Commercials were more forceful in the third quarter, engaging Loughmore higher up the field with sub Cathal Deely making an immediate impact with a point while county star Kevin Fahey and Sean O’Connor also kicked some fine efforts.

Loughmore weren’t getting as much joy but points from sub Evan Sweeney and the increasingly prominent Conor Ryan kept them on the coat-tails who led 1-9 to 0-10 at the second water-break, after which came the turning point in the 50th minute when Commercials squandered a three on one goal chance with Shane Hennessy denying Ross Peters, and from the clearance, Clonmel lost Seamus Kennedy to the sinbin.

However, captain Jamie Peters landed a point to go back three in front, but Loughmore never lost their composure with points from Conor Ryan and Liam McGrath bringing them back within one point going into injury time. Ryan had a chance to level, but it fell short, but Loughmore forced a turnover from the clearance with Brian and Liam McGrath winning possession from where John McGrath fired to the net for a two-point lead.

Jason Lonergan did halve the deficit, but Commercials three-in-a-row ambitions ended as Loughmore/Castleiney celebrated county glory in the best way possible.

Scorers for Loughmore/Castleiney: Conor Ryan 0-7 (4 frees); John McGrath 1-2 (0-1 free); Eamon Connolly, Liam McGrath, Evan Sweeney 0-1 each.

Scorers for Clonmel Commercials: Jason Lonergan 0-3; Michael Quinlivan 1-0; Kevin Fahey, Sean O’Connor (frees) 0-2 each; Padraic Looram, Jamie Peters, Colman Kennedy, Cathal Deeley 0-1 each.

Loughmore/Castleiney: Shane Hennessy; John Ryan, Joey Hennessy, Willie Eviston; Lorcan Egan, Ed Meagher, Tommy Maher; John McGrath, Eamon Connolly; Conor McGrath, Liam Treacy, Aidan McGrath; Conor Ryan, Noel McGrath, Liam McGrath.

Subs: Evan Sweeney for C McGrath (HT); Ciaran McGrath for Connolly (43); Brian McGrath for Meagher (54).

Clonmel Commercials: Michael O’Reilly; Ciaran Cannon, Liam Ryan, Jamie Aherne; Jamie Peters, Kevin Fahey, Padraic Looram; Conal Kennedy, Seamus Kennedy; Jack Kennedy, Ross Peters, Colman Kennedy; Jason Lonergan, Sean O’Connor, Michael Quinlivan.

Subs: Michael Murphy for Aherne (28); Cathal Deely for J Kennedy (HT); Peter McGarry for O’Connor (57); Kevin Harney for R Peters (57).

Referee: Derek O’Mahoney (Ardfinnan).