It is every clubs wish to win an All-Ireland title. Only a few however, are capable of realising this wish. Kilruane MacDonaghs are one of these select few.
The ambitions of this esteemed and famous club were fulfilled in March 1986 when this determined and committed side captured national honours by defeating Buffers Alley, Wexford champions and favourites, in a closely contested battle.
Euphoria reigned in the parish of Cloughjordan. Kilruane were now the nations best. Has there ever been a team so determined, dedicated and spirited as the Kilruane MacDonagh side of 1986?
The foundations for this triumph were laid as soon as the team made a tame exit from the divisional championship in 1984. Many people had seen this defeat as the final chapter for a team that reigned supreme in the late '70s.
The players however felt that they had done themselves less than justice in that defeat, and they were determined to redeem the situation as soon as possible. The opportunity presented itself two weeks later when they entered the seven-a-side All-Ireland. Surprising many, including their own loyal fans, the team brought back the only All-Ireland title to Tipperary in centenary year.
At the clubs annual convention, new selectors in the person of Billy O'Shea, Jim Casey and Len Gaynor were appointed. Physical training commenced in early February. Challenge games were arranged, as selectors tried to blend a team together for the championship. The object at this stage was victory in the first round of the championship. The motto: "Direct hurling is effective hurling".
The North Championship
In the semi-final MacDonaghs were paired against Borrisoleigh. Artic like conditions prevented the game from going ahead on the scheduled date. A fortnight later the sides confronted each other. The game marked a return to the colours of Eamon O'Shea. His return seemed to be the spark which ignited the team, and his presence gave the attack more pace and mobility. MacDonaghs led from trap to line and an opportunist goal from O'Shea in the second half sealed the fate of Borrisoleigh. This was essentially a team victory but the display of Seamus Hennessy at midfield drew admiration from friend and foe alike, while Seamus Gibson enhanced his reputation with an inspiring performance at corner back. The victory maintained MacDonaghs supremacy over Borrisoleigh with only one loss in the previous ten meetings.
Kilruane were now back in the North final after an absence
of five years. Roscrea struggled to victory in their semi-final with Lorrha
and consequently MacDonaghs were installed as firm favourites for the
final. The decider failed to live up to expectations. Kilruane established
early dominance with goals from Gerry Williams and Denis Cahill. At half
time they led by 2-5 to 0-8. The second period was a low scoring affair,
with defenders on top. At the final whistle MacDonaghs were ahead on a
scoreline of 2-10 to 1-10. John Cahill in particular gave a superb display
in the number two shirt.
The County Championship
This victory set up the county final the public wanted, Kilruane against Roscrea. This pairing evoked memories of the classic 1980 final, generally accepted as one of the best in the last half century and the 1978 final of the dramatic finish. Roscoe had looked impressive in their quarter-final and semi-final wins over Holycross and Carrick swans respectively. They seemed to have redeveloped their forces to better effect since the North final and general feeling was that they could make amends in the county decider.
The 13th October dawned warm and sunny. Over 10,000 people
crowded into Semple Stadium to see MacDonaghs and Roscrea do battle for
Tipperarys highest honour. Roscrea were quickly into their stride and
pre-match predictions seemed to be accurate. Having dictated the trend
of play in the first period they led at the break by 0-8 to 0-4. The hopes
of MacDonaghs seemed to have been dealt a serious blow when Enda Hogan
was forced to leave the field mid-way through the first half, after sustaining
a fractured thumb. Nobody panicked however, and the selectors took remedial
action in a number of areas. MacDonaghs thundered into the game after
the interval. Roscrea began to wilt under sustained pressure. Kilruane
now had the bit between the teeth. Emotion ran high as Pat Quinlan shot
MacDonaghs into the lead with a goal in the 51st minute. Two minutes later
Eamon O'Shea added another and the title was on its way back to Cloughjordan.
Final score: 2-10 to 0-10.
The Munster Championship
Cork Champions Blackrock were opponents in the final. In
the early days of this century they had thwarted DeWets in their quest
for Munster glory and twice in 1978 and 1979 they had foiled MacDonaghs.
They had trounced Kilmallock in the semi-final and with a galaxy of stars
including Tom and Jim Cashman, Frank Cummins and Dermot McCurtain they
justifiably assumed the mantle of favourites. The game ended 1-8 each
with Blackrock grabbing the equaliser from a Pat Moylan free. The Tribune
General opinion was that Kilruane had missed the bus. The
team and management held a very different view and felt that they had
the measure of Blackrock. Confidence was well founded as MacDonaghs triumphed
by double scores in the replay 0-12 to 0-6.
The All-Ireland Series
In the semi-final Kilruane faced Turloughmore of Galway
in Nenagh and ran out comfortable winners on a 3-9 to 0-9 scoreline. Goals
from Paddy and Jim Williams at the start of each half rocked the Connacht
champions back on their heels. MacDonaghs superiority can be gauged by
the fact that the Galway side only scored one point from play.
Never has the parish of Cloughjordan witnessed such a mass
exodus of people as took place on that historic day. An attendance of
10,716 witnessed one of the great All-Ireland club finals. Buffers Alley
started in whirlwind fashion and led by 2-2 to 0-2 early in the first
half. Kilruane clawed their way back into the game and trailed at the
interval by 2-4 to 0-6. MacDonaghs felt that the ship had been steadied
and emerged for the second half in determined mood. Five minutes into
the second half Pat Quinlan availed of an error by Colm Doran to whip
the ball to the net and bring the sides level. The tide seemed to have
turned in MacDonaghs favour but Buffers Alley were made of stern stuff
and refused to buckle.
The quality of the game can be gauged from press comments.
Michael Ellard of The Cork Examiner wrote:
For the record the final score was Kilruane MacDonaghs
1-15, Buffers Alley 2-10. Who would have believed it could be done? Without
a shadow of doubt it was the greatest day in the clubs history.
All Ireland Final Team
Sub used: Seamus Hennessy for Enda Hogan
Subs: Michael Hogan, Sean Williams, John Quinlan, David Quinlan, Tom Killackey, Ned Darcy, Paul Mulcahy, Eamon Kirby, Jack Darcy.
Selectors: Len Gaynor, Jim Casey, Liam O'Shea.
Kilruane MacDonaghs Scoring Chart 1985/86