1991 Clare Senior Hurling Championship Final (Sunday, September 22nd, 1991)
“Victor O’Loughlin points the way for Clarecastle’ by Seamus Hayes, The Clare Champion (Friday, September 27th, 1991)
Clarecastle 0-14 Scariff 1-05
The ability to make match winning moves and the picking off of some great points in the second half in particular, led to Clarecastle deservedly beating Scariff to win the Hamilton Memorial Cup and the blue riband of Clare hurling at Cusack Park on Sunday. Clarecastle’s experience proved too much for a Scariff outfit which will reflect on their failure to turn good possession into scores.
Having played with the aid of a strong breeze in the opening half, the Magpies were just four points ahead at the interval (0-6 to 0-2) and Scariff followers had good reason to look forward to the second half with some confidence. When Adrian McGrath goaled to reduce the deficit to the minimum four minutes into the second period, they had every advantage.
But Clarecastle, with their backs to the wall, responded magnificently. Anthony Daly moved to corner back in a switch with Barney Lynch and both were to be superb throughout the remainder of the half. Gerard O’Loughlin was now operating at right half forward with great success while the placing of James Healy, just gone 16, at full forward proved to be a great move. He won a lot of possession against an up to now dominant Eamonn Goblin and he also managed two fine points.
One can only speculate as to what might have happened had Scariff availed of good opportunities in the third quarter. While they were guilty of some bad misses, one must give due credit to the Clarecastle defence for determined play.
Clarecastle lined out with one change in personnel from the side which finished the semi-final. James Healy was on at wing forward with his brother Pat moving to midfield in place of Paraic Russell. Scariff made a positional switch with Ger Rodgers and John McKenna swapping places on the right side of attack.
Before Sunday’s game started, I talked with John Hanly who had served the Magpie club in many capacities and who has trained many teams over the years. When I asked him how he expected Clarecastle to do, he simply said “If Victor O’Loughlin plays well at centre forward we’ll win.”
O’Loughlin had one of his best games for the Magpies and finished the game with a tally of 0-6 from play. He opened the scoring after a minute with a delightful first time overhead pull after good work by his brother Gerard. Pat Healy then scored from a 70 metre free before O’Loughlin scored two more again linking up with his brother Gerard to leave the score at 0-4 to 0-0 after eleven minutes.
Scariff opened their account in the 13th minute when John McKenna pointed following a poor clearance by Terry Moloney. Victor O’Loughlin replied with his fourth point within a minute. The second quarter produced just a point from either side with Ger Rodgers scoring for Scariff after another bad Clarecastle clearance while Anthony Daly scored for the Magpies just on the stroke of half time.
While O’Loughlin’s contribution in the first half was extremely important, the highlight of the half was the outstanding play of Eamonn Giblin at full back for the East Claremen. Time out of number he cleared his lines and Clarecastle simply could find no way past him. Scariff fans were in fine form when the teams went to the break with the score at 0-6 to 0-2.
In the opening three minutes of the second half, points were exchanged by Padraig Goblin and Fergus Tuohy before the Scariff crowd had reason to be on their feet when Adrian McGrath goaled after a fine move involving John McKenna and Ger Rodgers. McGrath, incidentally, was introduced after twenty minutes for Tom Crotty who made no headway against Terry Moloney.
Scariff should have drawn level a minute after this goal but an unmarked Tom McMahon, from a good position, shot wide and this, in the view of most, was a costly miss. The winners replied quickly with an Alan Neville point. Exchanges were now lively and referee Michael Quinn stepped in to take the names of Victor O’Loughlin and Donal Moloney. From my position, it was a team-mate of Moloney who was ‘involved’ with O’Loughlin and Moloney went to ‘break them up.’
The margin was again reduced to the minimum in the ninth minute when McMahon pointed but such was the defending of the Clarecastle men that Scariff just could not manage to get on terms. A minute from the end of the third quarter, Pat Healy showed lovely skill when scoring a great point and this was followed by a brace from Victor O’Loughlin to stretch their lead to four with fourteen minutes remaining.
It was now clear that Scariff would have to produce something special if they were to win the crown for the first time since 1953. In an effort to improve a disappointing forward line, they sent in Mike Minogue in place of John McKenna and shortly afterwards Bernard Bugler was introduced for Mark McKenna. There was no change as Clarecastle continued to drive forward. James Healy stretched their lead with a fine point nine minutes from time. Tom McMahon pointed from a free for Scariff three minutes later but it was Clarecastle’s day and they finished with points from Alan Neville and James Healy to regain a title they last held in 1987.
The victory completed a great day for the parish as Ballyea earlier won the junior title. It was also a special occasion for Paschal Russell who went into the history books as the only man to win four senior championships with the Magpies. He was replaced ten minutes from the end and while he would probably have loved to have got on the scoresheet, he was loud in his praise for the team’s performance and predicted that they could remain at the top for a few years.
The Clarecastle defence showed tremendous determination throughout and rarely gave their opponents a clear shot at goal. Anthony Daly and Barney Lynch were particularly impressive while Martin Sheedy gave a tigerish display at corner back. His brother Stephen gave another fine hour at midfield and caused a lot of problems for his opponents.
Up front Victor O’Loughlin was the hero while James Healy who has just started his fifth year at St Flannan’s College, impressed and posed a number of problems for his teachers Eamonn Giblin and John Minogue. Fergus Tuohy, Alan Neville and Gerard O’Loughlin all had their moments and were involved in moves which led to good scores.
Eamonn Giblin’s performance at full back was outstanding in the first half but Clarecastle rarely gave him an opportunity to impress in the second period by keeping the play away from him as much as possible. His flankers Neilius Minogue and Ger Treacy gave little away. John Minogue got through some good hurling but failed to curb Victor O’Loughlin. Dan Treacy tried hard at midfield. The attack disappointed greatly and this is an area which has troubled Scariff during the past three years.
After the game a jubilant Paddy Quinn accepted the Hamilton trophy from County Board Chairman Brendan Vaughan who praised both teams for their commitment and who remarked on the achievement of both Clarecastle and Ballyea in winning titles for their parish.
Clarecastle: Noel Considine; Martin Sheedy, Terry Moloney, Barney Lynch; Tom Howard, Paddy Quinn (Captain), Anthony Daly (0-1); Stephen Sheedy, Pat Healy (0-2 1f); James Healy (0-2), Victor O’Loughlin (0-6), Fergus Tuohy (0-1); Ger O’Loughlin, Paschal Russell, Alan Neville (0-2)
Sub: Mark Scanlon for Russell.
Paraic Russell, Bernard Scanlon, Leonard McNamara, Pat Tuohy, Fergie O’Loughlin, Gary Ryan, Brian Hayes, Tommy Hegarty, Kenneth ‘Bobby’ Power, Willie Halpin
Management: Oliver Plunkett (Manager), Pat ‘Jack’ Moloney, Ger Ward.
Scariff: Brendan McNamara; Neilius Minogue, Eamonn Giblin, Ger Treacy; Donal Moloney, John Minogue, Pat Minogue; Dan Treacy (Captain), Paul Barrett; Ger Rodgers (0-1), Tom McMahon (0-2 1f), Mark McKenna; John McKenna (0-1), Tom Crotty, Padraig Giblin (0-1)
Subs: Adrian McGrath (1-0) for Crotty, Mike Minogue for J. McKenna, Bernard Bugler for M. McKenna
Referee: Michael Quinn (Éire Óg)