Friday 23 March 2018

History-making Premier heroes gunning for Gooch

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

WIDE-EYED kids in the parish's two primary schools got a special treat when the Loughmore-Castleiney team paid them a visit yesterday.

Their victory tour was accompanied by two trophies after the local heroes completed the first ever senior football and hurling double in Tipperary.

Sunday's SFC final victory over Aherlow was doubly remarkable considering they had suffered a heart-breaking two-point defeat in the Munster club hurling championship only a week earlier.

But selector Pat McGrath – whose sons Noel and John are in the thick of it all – says the team's spirit never flagged in the wake of that defeat by Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh.

"It was a huge disappointment," he said. "We were afraid it would take a lot out of the lads for the county football final, but they recovered remarkably well and just applied themselves straight away.

"There was no drowning their sorrows or anything. They were all mad for action, they went back to the football again as if the previous Sunday had never happened.

"Becoming the first club to win a county double was just a marvellous occasion for everyone involved."

McGrath's two boys and extended family have played a major role. Noel, of Tipp senior hurling fame, top-scored in the county hurling final and chipped in with 0-9 against Na Piarsaigh.

John (19), who starred for Tipp's minor footballers when they won a historic All-Ireland in 2011, top-scored with 1-9 last Sunday.

Liam McGrath, who captained Tipp's minors to football history three years ago, is a cousin – the son of Pat's brother Tom. And another of Pat's brothers, Michael, has three sons on the team: Ciaran, Aidan and David.

Tomas McGrath, John Ryan and Willie Eviston are also cousins of the McGraths in this tightly knit parish.


"In 2002 a lot of the younger lads on this team, including Noel, were on a team that won both of the county U-12 titles, while some of the older fellas, like Derek Bourke and Kieran McCarthy, won a minor double the same year," McGrath explained.

Last Sunday's football heroics have now earned Loughmore-Castleiney's dual darlings a second bite at the Munster cherry, even if they've the unenviable task of taking on the province's kingpins Dr Crokes of Kerry.

"Yes, we're facing The Gooch and the Crokes boys next so it'll be a big challenge," McGrath said. "But the weather conditions at this time of year can dictate a lot so we'll feel we have every chance.

"It's been an amazing season and we're hoping to write a few more chapters before it's over."

Irish Independent

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