Noel McGrath inspires Loughmore to title glory

Loughmore's Tom King holds possession assisted by team captain Ciar�n McGrath with Nenagh's Michael Heffernan in close pursuit. Picture: Bridget Delaney
Loughmore-Castleiney’s remarkable renaissance was complete last Sunday when they were crowned Clean Ireland Recycling Tipperary senior hurling champions.

Loughmore-Castleiney’s remarkable renaissance was complete last Sunday when they were crowned Clean Ireland Recycling Tipperary senior hurling champions.

In August, Loughmore suffered a crushing 1-11 to 3-20 Mid final defeat at the hands of Drom & Inch but they have regrouped impressively to lift the Dan Breen Cup for a third time.

And next Sunday, this remarkable dual club will attempt to reach the county football final, when they tackle holders Clonmel Commercials in the last four.

Naturally, huge reserves of fitness are required as Loughmore target silverware on the double and in this regard, trainer Alan O’Connor must take a chunk of the credit behind the scenes.

On the pitch, Loughmore hummed impressively in the second half as they overturned a four-point deficit, 0-6 to 1-7, to win by just a single point last Sunday, in front of 7195 spectators at Semple Stadium.

Noel McGrath lit up a gloomy Sunday afternoon with a remarkable second half performance, with six of his seven points popped over after half-time.

And for Loughmore, this was a desperately sweet victory as they were forced to line out without centre back Eddie Connolly, who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumour last Saturday week.

In the reshuffle, John Meagher slotted into the centre back slot and hurled brilliantly as Loughmore stormed to their first county senior hurling crown since 2007.

Meagher is a player who has endured his own injury and illness problems over the last two years but on this evidence, he can be a major player for the Tipperary seniors next year.

Current Tipperary star Noel McGrath turned in a real man of the match display that helped secure the coveted title for his club.

And cousin Liam McGrath proved equally influential with Loughmore’s goal that proved so decisive in the end.

They are now through to meet Limerick champions Na Piarsaigh in the Munster Club championship when they will bid to continue their winning run.