By Mike Fitzpatrick
Tipperary 2-15, Connecticut State 2-13
In this junior hurling final at Gaelic Park on Sunday last, Tipperary provided one of the most dogged and determined performances of any team, junior or senior, of either code, when they amazingly came back from an 11-point deficit against Connecticut to clinch the crown.
Throughout the first half, Connecticut forwards Musha Maher and Michael Kennedy wreaked havoc on the Tipperary defense, and slammed in a combined total of 2-7 to leave the boys from Tipp trailing by what seemed like an insurmountable ten points.
But Tipperary’s second half performance was simply phenomenal. Damien Sheehan, Noel Morris and Eddie Enright upped the pace and charged forward at every opportunity, hammering in shots to bring their side to within a handful of points.
Connecticut were clearly shellshocked, having let Tipperary off the hook, they were clearly staring at a case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
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Tipp battled on and on, and amazingly with five minutes on the clock, Enright levelled proceedings for the first time in the afternoon.
The Connecticut support were clearly subdued, and more than a little shocked, but minutes later Enright hit another to give his side the lead for the first time, and Morris sealed a fantastic comeback with less than a minute on the clock to give Tipperary a deserved victory.
If those present at Gaelic Park on Sunday were disappointed with the senior football final, then this junior hurling final was certainly a consolation. It was a battle to the death between two old rivals, producing yet another sparkling display of junior hurling. This tie was certainly one of the more energetic and memorable games in recent history.
Having witnessed a game of this calibre, it seems unfair that we have to wait so long for the restart of the junior hurling season next year. Tipperary’s senior side are in action next week when they come up against old rivals Limerick, and you can bet that they’ll be all out for pulling off a unique double.
Tipperary: Conor Dorrian, Donal Cummins, Willie Hackett, Stephen Carthy (0-1), Sean Sheppard, Declan Burke, Noel Morris (0-6), David Kennedy (0-1), Eddie Enright (0-3), Mike Carey, Damien Sheehan (2-4), Paul Casey, Paul Hogan. Sub: Robbie Quinlan.
Connecticut State: Donie Leahy, Paul Rafter, Richie Purcell, Liam Byrne, Phil Maher, Andy Lacey, Keith Hennessy (0-1), Ollie O’Neill, Declan Maher, Mark Comerford (0-5), Mike ‘Bonnie’ Kennedy (1-6), Musha Maher (1-1), Packie Roche. Sub: Cathal O’Sullivan.