Rocked by a goal shortly before the break from Moyle Rovers sub Dara Ryan - finishing a nice move with an excellent low shot - Loughmore kept the heads and had a goal of their own within 30 seconds, Cian Hennessy putting them ahead with a rasper of a shot which Ian Browne did his best to save but could only get a hand to.
Two more points just before the break had the Mid Tipp side 1-6 to 1-3 in front and those few minutes at the end of the first half proved the difference.
It’s been a great year for many of the Loughmore men, most notably the McGrath brothers with multiple All-Ireland medals, but the dual club celebrated just as wildly as ever at the final whistle.
“They got ahead of us but the response from us was unbelievable,” Noel McGrath, lining out at midfield, said afterwards. “We scored 1-1 or 1-2 and that was probably the foundation.”
Manager Declan Laffan praised the players, most of whom are also senior hurlers. “When players are willing to give that kind of effort it’s easy to come back every year,” he said. The 1-2 scored by his team before half-time was the difference between being behind at the break and being in front, “and we managed to go in ahead”.
Rovers’ boss Liam Cronin admitted the occasion got to the Moyle players. “Loughmore deserved it. I’ve no qualms about that.”
The first half saw Loughmore-Castleiney start and finish the stronger team, going 0-3 in front without reply in the opening minutes before Moyle Rovers got off the mark in the 12th minute with a Stephen Quirke ’45’.
As the half wore on Moyle Rovers came more into it, although they shot seven wides during this period, and led briefly just before the break when Dara Ryan brilliantly finished off a move created by Luke Boland and Liam Boland with a low shot to the net.
That made it 1-3 to 0-4 in their favour but, seconds later, Cian Hennessy had restored Loughmore-Castleiney’s advantave with a goal at the other hand, despite the best efforts of Rovers’ goalkeeper Ian Browne to get a hand to the shot.
Points by Cian Hennessy and John McGrath put them 1-6 to 1-3 ahead at the interval.
Scores were at a premium in the second half with Moyle Rovers failing to score at all in the third quarter, while Loughmore-Castleiney gradually pulled further ahead, Liam Treacy and Liam McGrath sending over fine efforts, the latter twice.
An excellent point by man of the match Cian Hennessy, at a very acute angle near the end-line on the right, was probably the score of the day and gave the Mid-Tipp champions a five-point cushion as the game neared the business end.
A match littered by some poor wides from both sides saw more from Moyle Rovers near the end, with Liam Boland getting their only points during normal time of the second half, with Stephen Quirke adding a free in injury-time.
A black card for Noel McGrath in the closing minutes couldn’t prevent Loughmore hanging on.
C Hennessy (1-2), N McGrath (0-2), J McGrath, L Treacy, L McGrath, J Hennessy, A McGrath (0-1 each)
D Ryan (1-0), S Quirke (0-3, 2 frees, 1 45), L Boland 0-3 (2 frees).
D Brennan, L Egan, J Meagher, T McGrath, J Ryan, C McGrath, J Hennessy, N McGrath, J McGrath, B McGrath, L Treacy, A McGrath, L McGrath, E Sweeney, C Hennessy.
W Eviston for N McGrath (black card 56m), E Connolly for E Sweeney (58m).
I Browne, P Morrissey, A Campbell, D Lyne, D McGrath, R Mulcahy, T Fitzgerald, L Boland, D Owens, D Foley, S Quirke, S Foley, L Boland, C Condon, T Hill.
D Ryan for T Fitzgerald (10m), M Dunne for C Condon (50m).
David Grogan (Aherlow).