Clonoulty-Rossmore won the West senior hurling title, sponsored by Tipperary Co-Op Super Valu, for the sixth year in a row when they defeated Eire Óg by 1-22 to 2-11 in the final played on a very well prepared venue at Golden on Sunday afternoon.
On a day that remained dry until the presentation of the cup, the game failed to live up to expectations. This wasn’t in any way the close contest that was hoped for but rather a game in which Clonoulty-Rossmore showed they were a class apart and absolutely superior to any other team in the division. As their captain, John O’Keeffe, put it in his presentation speech they are like Kilkenny and probably hated just as much in the division for their superiority.
The expectation going into the game was that Clonoulty would be difficult to beat but that if Eire Óg brought their top form and best game to the encounter there would be a contest. This didn’t happen. From early on, in spite of playing with a strongish breeze, Eire Óg were struggling. They were playing second fiddle over most of the field and finding it much more difficult than Clonoulty to get their scores.
They were behind by eight points to five after twenty-two minutes but put together their best period of hurling between the 26th and 30th minutes to go a point in front. Then disaster struck in the 32nd minute when a puck out from the Eire Óg goalkeeper was collected by a loose Tom Butler and sent back into the hand of John O’Neill, who rounded his man and buried in the net, as only he can do, to snatch a half-time lead for Clonoulty of 1-8 to 0-9. Earlier, in the 15th minute, the same player had a certain goal stopped by a wonderful save by Daragh Mooney.
The goal was a shattering blow to Eire Óg sending them in to the dressingroom deflated when they should have gone in with confidence for the second half.
There was no change in the second-half. Playing with the breeze and growing in confidence, Clonoulty motored ahead, unimpeded by any opposition. They added on six points in the third quarter.
Eire Óg did get a lift in the eighth minute when a good movement inspired by Eoin Kennedy culminated in a goal by Seanie Ryan. Was it the spark that might ignite a challenge? Sadly it wasn’t, only a temporary blip in Clonoulty’s onward march.
The final quarter was more notable for a flare-up about five minutes from the end than for any change in the pattern of the game. There had been a short bout of fisticuffs in the opening minutes of the game but matters settled down after that. On this occasion there were many more players involved and after tempers cooled referee, John Ryan B, gave straight reds to Clonoulty’s Paudie White and Eire Óg’s Ronan O’Brien.
During the same period Clonoulty added eight points to bring their total for the game to 1-22. Eire Óg got a consolation goal in the 34th minute when Brian Fox finished off a movement started by Donal O’Dwyer. It brought their tally to 2-11 and reduced their margin of defeat.
Clonoulty-Rossmore gave an impressive performance. One thing that stood out was the impressiveness of their forward line, especially on the inside. Timmy Hammersley answered any questions asked of him and John O’Neill and Fiachra O’Keeffe were also loitering with intent.
Clonoulty have parts of their game to work on but they have to be happy with how they showed on Sunday and must realise that they have to go the whole way this year. They had many fine performance but John O’Keeffe was outstanding in the backs, John Devane and Sean Maher came right into the game in the second-half and what can one say of Timmy Hammersley beyond him scoring thirteen points!
Eire Óg can take little consolation from their performance. They never really got going and their forward line came up against a very effective backline. Padraic O’Dwyer, who played at centreforward was impressive early on but appeared to go out of the game as John O’Keeffe got a stranglehold on the position. Brian Fox was moved to full-back to offset Timmy Hammersley but he’s an elusive player who wasn’t always where he might have been. Donal O’Dwyer did some running at the Clonoulty backs late in the game but it was too little too late. Darragh Mooney made an outstanding save and couldn’t be faulted for John O’Neill’s lethal delivery just before half-time. Overall not a day to remember.
After the game the O’Dwyer Cup was presented to the winning captain, John O’Keeffe, by board chairman, Roger Kennedy. Also present was Matt Quinlan, chairman, Tipperary Co-Op, sponsors of the championship
Clonoulty-Rossmore: Jimmy Maher, Joey O’Keeffe, James Heffernan, Andrew Quirke, John Devane, John O’Keeffe (capt), Sean O’Connor, Paudie White, Conor Hammersley (0-1), Tom Butler, Conor Ryan, Sean Maher (0-3), Fiachra O’Keeffe (0-1), Timmy Hammersley (0-13), John O’Neill (1-2). Sub: Jamie Moloney (0-2) for Conor Ryan, Martin Sadlier for Tom Butler.
Eire Óg: Darragh Mooney, Richard Ryan, Brian Fox (capt), Michael O’Dwyer, Diarmaid Ryan, Kev Fox, Tom Fox, Conor O’Brien, Dan Hogan, Donal O’Dwyer, Padraic O’Dwyer, Ronan O’Brien, Sean Ryan, Eoin Kennedy, Damian O’Brien.
Referee: John Ryan Bob (Cashel King Cormacs)