Not many in the well-attended final of the Tipperary Co-Op Super Valu senior hurling championship at Dundrum on Saturday evening expected the scoreline of 4-17 to 1-17 in favour of Eire Óg at the end of the game but there was no doubt about it and they thoroughly deserved their nine-point victory over Clonoulty-Rossmore.
It ended a twenty seven year wait for Eire Og to claim the coveted divisional crown and led to great celebration among their supporters.
Clonoulty had gone into the game hot favourites to take their seventh divisional title in a row and they appeared to be confirming their favourites tag as they led by 0-9 to 0-5 after twenty-two minutes and were coasting along in control over most of the field.
Then an inexplicable transformation took place in their performance.
During the nine minutes of play left in the first half they failed to raise a flag and, at the same time, Eire Óg hit four points and then, in the 29th minute, Ronan O’Brien finished the ball to the Clonoulty net after a good run by his brother Conor.
Eire Óg thus went into the dressingroom leading by 1-9 to 0-9 and generating a buzz of speculation on whether a big surprise was on the cards.
There were no answers forthcoming during the five minutes after the resumption.
Each side notched up two points but two changes by the Clonoulty mentors, the introduction of John O’Neill for Fiachra O’Keeffe and Kevin Horan for Jason Forrestal, indicated they were unhappy with their team’s performance.
Then in the sixth minute a massive puckout by Darragh Mooney, after Clonoulty’s second point, came straight to Eoin Kennedy, who centred to Ronan O’Brien and he made no mistake for Eire Óg’s second goal.
The cat was really among the Clonoulty pigeons now!
Each side had two further points and then in the eleventh minute Eoin Kennedy was the provider once again when he laid on the ball to Tom Fox, who finished to the net for Eire Óg’s third goal.
There were further points by Tom Butler and Tom Fox and as the game entered the final quarter Eire Óg were comfortably in front by 3-14 to 0-14.
One still expected a kick from Clonoulty but it never came.
Instead, Eire Óg got their fourth goal in the twenty-first minute when a Ronan O’Brien shot came off the upright into the path of Eoin Kennedy, who made no mistake in hitting the back of the net.
Clonoulty added a few points and eventually got a goal from John O’Neill in the twenty-eighth minute but it meant no appreciable difference to a dominant Eire Óg and a well beaten Clonoulty-Rossmore for a final scoreline of 4-17 to 1-17.
It was a tremendous victory for Eire Óg and all the sweeter because they were underdogs going into the contest.
The wait of twenty-seven years was a long one and the success was savoured and enjoyed by the crowd of faithful supporters who witnessed their impressive captain, Paudie O’Dwyer, receive the cup from board chairman and fellow Eire Óg man, Tom English, and thank the many people who contributed to the victory.
As well as Paudie playing a captain’s part others to impress for Eire Óg included Richard Ryan, Eoin Kennedy, Brian Fox and Ronan O’Brien.
John Quinn captured his third divisional senior hurling medal, when he came on as a replacement near the end.
He was the only survivor from 1986 and he won his second medal with the combo team in 2004.
In a subdued performance, which showed signs of staleness and tiredness after a very long and successful run, not many excelled on the Clonoultry-Rossmore team but John O’Keeffe and Conor Hammersley impressed.
Eire Óg: Darragh Mooney, Michael O’Dwyer, Richard Ryan, Philip McGrath, Kev Fox (0-1), Brian Fox (0-1), Diarmuid Ryan, Tom Fox (1-2), Dan Hogan, Paudie O’Dwyer (capt.), (0-8), Conor O’Brien, Donal O’Dwyer (0-2), Sean Ryan (0-1), Eoin Kennedy (1-0), Ronan O’Brien (2-1). Subs: Damian O’Brien (0-1) for Sean Ryan, Mic hael McGrath for Philip McGrath, Jeremy Furlong for Donal O’Dwyer, Eoin Bradshaw for Eoin Kennedy, John Quinn for Sean Ryan.
Clonoulty-Rossmore: Jimmy Maher, Joey O’Keeffe,Padraig Heffernan, Jason Forrestal, John O’Keeffe, Ciaran Quirke, Thomas Butler (0-1), Paudie White (capt.), (0-3), Liam Devane, Conor Hammersley (0-1), Tom Butler (0-1), Aidan White, Timmy Hammersley (0-8), John Devane (0-1), Fiachra O’Keeffe (0-1). Subs: John O’Neill (1-1) for Fiachra O’Keeffe, Kevin Horan for Forrestal, Sean Maher for Liam Devane.