Noel McGrath (Loughmore-Castleiney)
Arravale Rovers’ bid for a spot in the Tipperary Water county senior football semi-final came up short at Clonoulty where they suffered a seven points defeat at the hands of one of the championship favourites, Loughmore-Castleiney, 1-12 to 0-8
The Tipp town lads did not deserve to be seven points behind their rivals at the finish as they played lots of good football and worked very hard throughout but the Mid champions were more clinical in front of goal and at the end of the day that was the main difference between the sides.
Indicative of this is that while both sides were creative in their approach, Loughmore made the most of one of their surges to produce the goal in the 41st minute which really decided a fine game that was well balanced up to that. At the other hand neither Aidan McGrath nor his replacment Richie Maher was asked to make a save of any significance during the hour.
Loughmore were never led in a game where the emphasis was on retention of possession. Both sides were very adept at this and worked the ball intelligently about the field, but with defences tenacious in their policing of opponents, scoring was at a premium in the first half. The sides shared six points after 26 minutes, Liam McGrath getting all the Loughmore scores while James Hogan, Mikey O’Dwyer and Darren Lowry were on target for Arravale.
However, on the stroke of half-time Noel McGrath and Conor Ryan picked off Loughmore points for an interval lead of 0-5 to 0-3.
Neither side could have been too pleased with the scoring return for its first half efforts and there was little change in the opening ten minutes of the second half as they traded points, two each, Lorcan Egan and Liam McGrath for Loughmore with James Hogan and Donough Leahy the Arravale marksmen.
The decisive score came in the 41st minute when Joseph Nyland burst through from midfield for a Loughmore goal after a fine build-up. Arravale responded well, Niall Donovan and Mikey O Dwyer shooting points in two minutes to be just a goal behind. Liam McGrath and Mikey O’Dwyer swapped points but the Mid men were to prove the stronger in the closing stages Ciaran Connolly, Conor Ryan and Liam McGrath picking off points to stretch their advantage to seven points.
Loughmore’s only concern in those closing minutes was a temporary power failure which saw the lights on three of the pylons go out in the last minute of the game. However after a relatively short delay power was restored and Loughmore stayed comfortably clear of their rivals.
The victory could have a price for Loughmore as the injuries to Aidan McGrath and Brian McGrath, which forced their withdrawal, could be costly with a county senior hurling preliminary quarter-final against Killenaule due on Tuesday of this week.
County man John McGrath sat out this game to protect an injury he has been nursing, as the burden of so many games so closely together poses a serious concern for the Mid champions.
John Meagher, John Ryan and Ciaran McGrath were on top of their game inthe winners defence with Conor Ryan, and Joseph Nyland also prominent but the key man was Liam McGrath who shot seven of their points.
Arravale brought lots of enthusiasm and fine football to their challenge but needed to be a bit more direct in front of goal and really can have no complaint about the outcome. Their top men were Ciaran Lowry, Cian Ryan, Brian Jones, Mikey O Dwyer and James Hogan.
Loughmore scorers – L McGrath(0-7,5fs), J Nyland(1-0), C Ryan(0-2), N McGrath, C Connolly, L Egan(0-1 each);
Arravale scorers – M O Dwyer(0-3,2fs), J Hogan(0-2,1f), D Leahy, N Donovan, D Lowry(0-1 each);
Loughmore-Castleiney – Aidan McGrath; Lorcan Egan, John Meagher, Tomas McGrath; John Ryan, Ciaran McGrath, Joseph Hennessy; Noel McGrath, Joseph Nyland; Brian McGrath, Liam Treacy, Conor Ryan; Liam McGrath, Tommy Maher, Evan Sweeney; Subs- Richie Maher for A McGrath; Ciaran Connolly for B McGrath; Eoghan Ryan for Treacy;
Arravale Rovers – Timmy Dalton; Tommy Lowry, Ciaran Lowry, Pearse Richardson; Paddy Dalton, Roger O Connor, Cian Ryan; Shane Leahy, Brian Jones; Donough Leahy, James Hogan, Matthew Moroney; Bryan Lowry, Darren Lowry, Mikey O Dwyer; Subs – Niall Donovan for Moroney; Stephen Quinn for O Connor; Oscar O Dwyer for P Dalton;
Ref – Sean Lonergan, Moyle Rovers