Bryan McLoughney: 'It’s a great time to be alive and to be a Kiladangan man'

John McGrath appeared to have claimed Loughmore-Castleiney a fourth Dan Breen Cup when he fired over a 65 just seconds before the winning goal
Bryan McLoughney: 'It’s a great time to be alive and to be a Kiladangan man'

Kiladangan captain Paul Flynn joins his teammates with Dan Breen Cup as they celebrate a first Tipperary SHC title. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

KILADANGAN 1-28 LOUGHMORE-CASTLEINEY 3-20 (AET)

Hurling’s wicked and wondrous ways were on full view in this enthralling Tipperary SHC final won with a twist of Hitchcock proportions.

So wicked for Loughmore-Castleiney who appeared to have won it with John McGrath’s 65 just passed the one minute announced for additional time in the second half of extra-time.

So wondrous as 13 seconds later Bryan McLoughney finished to the net with a certainty he had lacked during normal time. And with that there was no coming back — Kiladangan had its first senior county title.

To say their heroes were unlikely wouldn’t be unfair. Sure, McLoughney had pointed twice but only after coming on in extra-time having been benched in normal time. Joe Gallagher, who fielded Barry Hogan’s puck-out to tee up McLoughney, had been bested by John Meagher for the majority of the game.

“I was disappointed with how I played but I just had to stick with it when I got the chance to come back in and we had to do what we had to do to win the game,” said the matchwinner. 

“It was absolutely perfect, it’s what dreams are made of. Growing up as a child watching all of the Kiladangan players that came before us and for everyone in the parish it’s just great to get the win. Unbelievable. It’s a great time to be alive and to be a Kiladangan man.”

Brian Lawlor could smile about the decision to reintroduce McLoughney. “It was a substitution that worked. We wanted to bring on a guy who if the ball did get into his hand he would score. He’s probably one of the best shooters there is. We didn’t get the goal the whole game but we got it when it mattered at the end and there was no coming back from it then.”

Cuts don’t come much crueller for Loughmore-Castleiney, who now have to get their heads right for a senior county final against Clonmel Commercials this weekend, their 11th consecutive weekend in championship action.

As he did on Sunday, Frankie McGrath will manage them again full of pride in what they have achieved in reaching both but admittedly stung by the nature of this loss. “I suppose we’d have a bit of a grievance with how quick the puckout was allowed. He has pulled back a couple earlier, you know what I mean.

“Are we nitpicking? But sure these things make a huge difference. No, look, we knew there was going to be a puckout, maybe we should have managed it a little better when it came down.

“Look, the break of the ball and that’s it. Kiladangan have been scoring a few goals all year. We kept a clean sheet up to that point. Look, fair dues to Kiladangan, their time has come and they are fully deserving.”

Ten wides in first-half normal time told plenty about Kiladangan’s superiority in general play. Ten minutes into the second half, they had 30 scoring chances and just 16 points in their account but they were at least level having coughed up three first-half goals.

Loughmore were playing a form of guerilla hurling: they might not have attacked as much as Kiladangan but when they did they were clinical. Evan Sweeney’s fourth minute goal was followed by a second from Tomás McGrath in the 19th after Noel McGrath had turned over David Sweeney.

The third in the 22nd minute to go five points up came as a result of McLoughney driving forward to supply Ciarán McGrath at the edge of the square who instead of shooting, fed John McGrath who struck low and sweet.

Yet by half-time Kiladangan had narrowed the deficit to two points — 3-5 to 0-12 — as twin brothers and county panellists Paul and Alan Flynn steadied the ship. “The difference in that game was the three goals we conceded,” said Lawlor. “People had been commenting that we hadn’t been conceding goals and here we go and conceded three in the first half. In fairness to our lads, I thought we were a match for them in open play.”

Kiladangan were ahead by the 45th minute but the sides were level seven times in that second half. John McGrath, quiet by his standards, shot into prominence in the final quarter and put Loughmore two up in the 58th minute.

However, the retaliation from Kiladangan from strong. A Billy Seymour free was followed by a Deccy McGrath point and then a beauty from Paul Flynn from under the Ryan Stand winning a final. Noel McGrath’s equaliser to force extra-time from under the Kinane Stand was a score as spellbinding.

Loughmore led by one at the break in extra-time — 3-17 to 2-15 - and doubled it when John McGrath was picked out by his brother Noel. Back on the field, McLoughney cancelled that out and a Seymour free followed to square matters once more.

Another substitute, Loughmore’s Tommy Maher, threatened to be the star when he showed pace to fire a point only for McLoughney to find his range again. And just when it seemed John McGrath had sealed this epic with his 65 McLoughney delivered emphatically.

“Twenty-five years ago, the club were in a bad place,” recalled Lawlor. “We actually self-nominated to go down from intermediate to junior A. I was actually playing centre-back. We got hammered by Roscrea’s second team. In one generation we have come through to win a Dan Breen — that’s absolutely phenomenal. That’s 25 years’ work from coaching, players and committee level as well to get the right structures for the club going the right way. It’s a lesson for any club that it can be done.”

The 60-second report

IT MATTERED

You don’t need us to tell you, Bryan McLoughney’s goal. A peach of a finish, an incredible show of strength from a player transformed in extra-time.

CAN’T IGNORE

The magnificence of this county final. On a gorgeous autumn afternoon in Thurles, it will be remembered as one of the greatest contests of the year.

GOOD DAY

For Kiladangan who were a dot on the Tipp hurling scene in the 90s, this victory serves as just reward for investment in time and effort from men such as Eamonn Kelly, Brian Lawlor and Darragh Egan. From small acorns grow…

BAD DAY

Difficult to pick out any villains. If life was fair, Loughmore-Castleiney would get an extra week to prepare for Clonmel Commercials so as to lick their wounds.

PHYSIO ROOM

Willie Connors and Deccy McGrath had to make way towards the end with injuries.

SIDELINE SMARTS

Moving John McGrath closer to goal worked well for Loughmore in the closing stages of the second half. Bringing McLoughney back proved an even better decision by the Kiladangan management. Loughmore’s direct hurling in the first half was effective.

BEST ON SHOW

Marking Noel McGrath, Alan Flynn knew he wouldn’t have everything his own way but three points was a fine return. Paul Flynn scored some outstanding points. John Meagher was a colossus for Loughmore-Castleiney and John and Noel McGrath were impressive in spells.

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Michael Kennedy earned this appointment on the back of a fine championship. He didn’t disappoint here. His officiating contributed to a classic.

Scorers for Kiladangan: B Seymour (0-8, 5 frees); P Flynn (0-7); B McLoughney (1-2); S Hayes (0-4); A Flynn (0-3); D O’Meara, W Connors (sideline), D McGrath, A Loughnane (0-1 each).

Scorers for Loughmore-Castleiney: J McGrath (1-10, 0-5 frees, 1 65); N McGrath (0-5); E Sweeney, T McGrath (1-0 each); J Nyland (0-2); B McGrath, L Treacy, T Maher (0-1 each).

KILADANGAN: B Hogan; D Flannery, J Quigley, F Hayes; A Flynn, D Sweeney, D McGrath; W Connors, T Gallagher; S Hayes, J Gallagher, D O’Meara; B Seymour, P Flynn (c), B McLoughney.

Subs for Kiladangan: A Loughnane for B McLoughney (44); M Minehan for D O’Meara (57); B McLoughney for W Connors (75); D Moran for D McGrath (76).

LOUGHMORE-CASTLEINEY: B Hogan; L Egan, J Hennessy, W Eviston; J Ryan, J Meagher, A McGrath; B McGrath, C Connolly; J Nyland, J McGrath, N McGrath; T McGrath (c), Ciarán McGrath, E Sweeney.

Subs for Loughmore-Castleiney: Conor McGrath for Tomás McGrath (48); L Treacy for C Connolly (54); C Connolly for Ciarán McGrath (e-t h-t); T Maher for A McGrath (74).

Referee: M Kennedy (Newcastle).

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