By John McIlwaine
Loughgiel became the first and only Ulster team to win the All Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship title when they beat Offaly and Leinster champions St Rynagh’s in a final replay at Casement Park on Sunday April 24th 1983.
The previous Sunday the teams ended deadlocked in Croke Park on a scoreline of 2-5 to 1-8. The replay should have been in Croke Park again but the National Hurling League final between Kilkenny and Limerick was already fixed for that date and after some tough bargaining by Antrim county chairman Hugh McPoland the game was set for Casement Park.
Hugh had argued that the first game in Croke Park and been played at Leinster headquarters so it was only right that the replay should go to Ulster headquarters this time, and so it was agreed that the Offaly men should make the journey north to take on the Shamrocks.
In the drawn game in Croke Park rank outsiders Loughgiel had made all the early running and boosted by a Brendan Laverty goal they held a commanding 1-4 to 0-2 lead as half-time approached. Confidence was high among the Shamrocks ranks but a goal just before half-time by St Rynaghs corner-forward Hugh Dolan, and one within a minute of the restart by midfielder Aodh Horan turned the game on its head.
However Loughgiel never panicked and gradually edged their way back into the game and were back on level terms with time almost up.
Loughgiel hearts sank in the final minute when referee Noel O’Donaghue blew for a St Rynagh’s free.
The Tommy Moore Cup appeared to be heading to Banagher, Co. Offaly, when St Rynagh’s captain Padraig Horan stepped up to take the free, but the prayers of all Loughgiel fans were answered as the ball went wide and the Shamrocks deservedly lived to fight another day.
The Loughgiel team who did battle that day in Croke Park were – Niall Patterson, Martin Carey, PJ O’Mullan, Sean Carey, Eamon Connolly, Paddy McIlhatton, Aiden McNaughton, Mick O’Connell, Gerard McKinley, Aidne McCarry, Brendan Laverty, Dominic McKinley, Martin Coyle, Brendan McGarry, Seamus McNaughton.
SUBS – Paddy Carey (jnr) for Brendan McGarry; Paddy Carey (sen) for Martin Coyle.
OUT IN FORCE
The crowds turned out in force the following Sunday in Casement Park to witness what turned out to be another classic encounter. Loughgiel again dominated the opening exchanges and Brendan Laverty, who had scored their goal in Croke the week before, delivered the goods yet again as he fired to the net on twenty-two minutes to help his team to a 1-7 to 0-7 half-time lead.
The Antrim champion kept their noses in front throughout the second-half though it took some stout defending by the Shamrocks rearguard to keep the Offaly men at bay.
On forty-seven minutes, with St Rynagh’s trailing by two points, they were awarded a twenty-metre free and Offaly county star Padraig Horan stepped up to take the puc. Horan went for goal but Paddy McIlhatton, back on the Loughgiel goal-line, was equal to it and cleared the danger.
Three minutes later the ball was in the net at the other end of the field when Aiden ‘Beaver’ McCarry riffled home after receiving a pass from Dominic McKinley and the Loughgiel celebrations got underway.
They stretched the lead to six, and though Horan grabbed a late consolation goal for the Leinster champions with the last puc of the game, it was a case of too little, too late as the Tommy Moore Cup was already Loughgiel bound.
Loughgiel scorers – Aiden McCarry 1-3; Brendan Laverty 1-1; Seamus McNaughton 0-3; Paddy Carey jun 0-2, Paddy Carey sen. 0-1; Mick O’Connell 0-1; Aiden McNaughton 0-1:
The men who made history that day were: Niall Patterson, Martin Carey, PJ O’Mullan, Sean Carey, Eamon Connolly, Paddy McIlhatton, Aiden McNaughton, Mick O’Connell, Gerard McKinley, Aiden McCarry, Brendan Laverty, Dominic McKinley, Paddy Carey sen., Paddy Carey jun., Seamus McNaughton.
SUBS – Seamus Richmond, Brendan McGarry, Martin Coyle, Dominic McMullan, Liam Laverty, Sean Laverty, Paddy O’Connell, Harry Carey, Paddy McIntyre, Joe McGurk, Martin Gillen, Robin Clarke.