John McGrath: Momentum aiding Loughmore-Castleiney again in double bid

McGrath hit Kilruane MacDonaghs for 4-6 in Saturday’s quarter-final, 4-5 of it coming in the first half
John McGrath: Momentum aiding Loughmore-Castleiney again in double bid

Kilruane MacDonaghs’ Niall O’Meara holds onto the ball despite the pressure from Loughmore-Castleiney’s John McGrath in the Tipperary SHC quarter-final. Picture: Marty Ryan

John McGrath says Loughmore-Castleiney are hoping momentum will stand to them as it did last year when they reached both senior finals.

McGrath hit Kilruane MacDonaghs for 4-6 in Saturday’s quarter-final, 4-5 of it coming in the first half of their 4-15 to 0-21 victory. The club are also alive in the football championship and the hurt of losing those deciders last year is partly inspiring them.

“People talk about us playing lots of games but it’s great playing every weekend. If you’re not playing, you’re going to be training anyway so the games bring you on. It definitely does a lot for the fitness levels and you’re used to the physicality and contest of it and I think that can only be good for you playing both codes.

“It (2020) was a great season in one way but for a finish it just sucked the wind out of you. You can’t look back on it too much, it’s a different season and everything is very different this year. It does drive you on but I don’t think you can dwell on it too much. It’s all about driving it on now.”

McGrath found the net from play twice in the opening 12 minutes before he added two from penalties in the last eight minutes of the half. His first green flag in the second minute was a rapid ground stroke after some fine work by Liam Treacy and his brother Noel teed him up for the second. The scores helped Loughmore-Castleiney into a 2-4 to 0-8 lead at the first water break. A couple of Cian Darcy points had brought Kilruane to within a point by the 27th minute but soon after their full-back line was under intense pressure again and Treacy was fouled in the large parallelogram, McGrath obliging with the follow-up strike.

In the second minute of additional time, Ed Connolly was upended in the area and while Conor Doheny managed to get a touch on McGrath’s strike, it was too hot for him to stop.

“Any time you get a good start, it’s a great advantage and every team targets early on to get on top and put your stamp on the game,” said McGrath. “Fortunately, we got that and it was a huge help because we certainly needed it in the second half and Kilruane were coming back at us.

“We were just able to keep them at arm’s length because of the good first half. It’s really down to a team game and everybody chipped in at different stages. We’ve a huge amount to work on but there were a lot of positives in the first half.”

McGrath’s fourth goal put Loughmore 4-9 to 0-11 at half-time, a 10-point advantage which was cut to six points by the second quarter break, largely due to the freetaking skills of Willie Cleary. However, no goal came, their closest effort from Conor Cleary being stopped by Loughmore goalkeeper Aidan McGrath.

Points from Liam Treacy and Noel McGrath at the start of the fourth quarter widened the margin to eight although Kilruane fired back with three to set up a tense finale. But Kilruane’s accuracy deserted them in the closing stages, Darcy and Craig Morgan hitting five wides between them.

Scorers for Loughmore-Castleiney: J McGrath (4-6, 2-0 pens, 0-1 free, 0-2 65s); N McGrath (0-3); L McGrath, E Connolly (0-2 each); C Connolly, L Treacy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Kilruane MacDonaghs: W Cleary (0-10, 8 frees, 2 65s); C Darcy (0-4); T Cleary (0-2); M O’Neill, A Morgan, C Cleary, C Morgan, N O’Meara (0-1 each).

LOUGHMORE-CASTLEINEY: A McGrath; W Eviston, J Hennessy, T McGrath; J Ryan, J Meagher, B McGrath; L Egan, T. Maher; N McGrath, C. Connolly, L McGrath; E Connolly, J McGrath, L Treacy.

Subs: E Sweeney for Egan (34); C McGrath for Maher (57); L Egan for E Connolly (inj 58); A Ryan for Sweeney (60+1).

KILRUANE MACDONAGHS: C Doheny; A Morgan, J Peters, J Cleary; N O’Meara, K Cahill, C Morgan; M O’Neill, C Darcy; T Cleary, S McAdams, W Cleary; J Cahill (c), S Hennessy, K O’Kelly.

Subs: E Hogan for M O’Neill, C Cleary for Hennessy (both h-t); T Hogan for T Cleary (58); E Hogan for A Morgan (60+3).

Referee: J McCormack (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams).

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