Sweeney the star player as Loughmore take title
Evan Sweeney was just four years old when Loughmore-Castleiney last won the Tipperary county senior hurling title in 1988 with a team captained by his father, Eamonn -- so his memory of yesterday's triumph will be much more vivid as he turned in a man-of-the-match performance in a one-sided encounter at Semple Stadium.
It really was a special occasion for the Sweeney family as Eamonn is involved in the management set-up with Frankie and Michael McGrath.
It was certainly a day to remember for Evan who posted nine points, five from play. Backed up by Noel McGrath's impressive six-point strike, Loughmore-Castleiney raised their game to a level that Drom-Inch could never reach. Drom-Inch unloaded plenty of industry in their efforts to locate a survival route but they were well beaten by half-time, where they trailed by 0-13 to 0-5.
After the break Loughmore-Castleine raised the tempo, clipping over four points in the first 10 minutes, guaranteeing the Dan Breen Cup would again prove beyond the reach of Drom-Inch, yet to win the title.
Wins over Clonoulty-Rossmore and Killenaule in the quarter and semi-final respectively had raised Drom-Inch's hopes but they lacked the crisp efficiency of an Loughmore-Castleiney team that had seriously influential performers all over the field.
Goalkeeper and captain, Johnny Gleeson made a great save from Declan Ryan in the 16th minute and followed up with an excellent display of safe handling as Drom-Inch conducted an aerial bombardment in the hope of getting onto the breaks.
Paul Ormond, David Kennedy and Tom King were excellent in the Loughmore-Castleiney defence; Ciaran McGrath hurled lots of balls at midfield while the Sweeney-Noel McGrath attacking double act was backed well by Webster and Stapleton.
Sweeney's performance really did illuminate a game played on a dull, dry afternoon which provided perfect conditions. He struck a series of delightful points in either half, presenting Drom-Inch with a range of problems they couldn't solve.
"The determination in this panel is unreal. We started very well today which was vital and once we got out of the blocks early we knew it would be hard to catch us," he said. In fact, they remained on full throttle for 55 minutes, by which stage they were 0-22 to 0-8 ahead before Drom-Inch battled back to land five points in the closing minutes. It was a defiant gesture but it was never going to achieve anything other than ensuring that the margin of defeat wouldn't look quite so stark.
Scorers -- Loughmore-Castleiny: E Sweeney 0-9 (4f), N McGrath 0-6 (3f), R Stapleton 0-3, C McGrath 0-2, M Webster 0-1, E Connolly 0-1.
Drom-Inch: S Callanan 0-5 (2f, 1 '65'), J Ryan, S Butler (1f, 1'65) 0-2 each, D Ryan, K Butler, M Cantwell, E Woodlock 0-1 each.
Loughmore-Castleiney -- J Gleeson; A Stapleton, D Bourke, P Ormond; E Ryan, D Kennedy, T King; C McGrath, G Sweeney; E Sweeney, P Brennan, N McGrath; E Connolly, M Webster, R Stapleton. Subs: D McGrath for P Brennan (53), T Long for Stapleton (57), S Bohan for Connolly (61), G Morris for Long (62).
Drom-Inch -- D Young; E Costello, E Buckley, K Butler; P Butler, D Kennedy, T Cantwell; P Collins, J Woodlock; J Ryan, S Callanan, M Ryan; E Woodlock, S Butler, D Ryan. Subs: M Butler for P Butler (34), M Cantwell for Collins (39), E Walsh for M Ryan (50), L Kennedy for Costello (53), F McGrath for J Ryan (59).
Ref -- T Ryan (Kildangan).