John McGrath inspirational again as Loughmore book place in Tipp final

Championshp round-up: Ballyea to face Inagh-Kilnamona in Clare hurling decider

Perhaps this is John McGrath's way of letting new Tipperary manager Colm Bonnar know that he wants his starting spot back.

Substituted against Clare in Tipp’s Munster championship opener, McGrath didn’t start again in the campaign yet his club form has been sensational since.

His 4-6 haul in the Tipperary SHC quarter-finals drew headlines and he added another 1-12 for Loughmore-Castleiney in their 1-18 to 1-15 semi-final defeat of Borris-Ileigh.

Loughmore-Castleiney, still chasing success on two fronts having lost both county finals narrowly in 2020, did it the hard way by coming from seven points down at one stage against Borris-Ileigh. They still trailed by four at the second water break but a McGrath goal from a penalty helped turn the screw – securing a final clash with arch rivals Thurles Sarsfields who dethroned Kiladangan on Saturday, 1-19 to 2-14.

Ballyea will face first-time finalists Inagh-Kilnamona in the Clare SHC showpiece. Even without Tony Kelly – the gifted midfielder had ankle surgery after the quarter-final win over Kilmaley – Ballyea had enough to see off Newmarket-on-Fergus 1-14 to 1-13.

Aaron Griffin’s 50th-minute goal was crucial for the 2016 and 2018 winners though Niall Deasy emerged as the matchwinner with the point that separated the sides.

Goalkeeper Patrick Kelly saved a last gasp penalty as Inagh-Kilnamona saw off Eire Óg, Ennis 1-17 to 0-17 on Saturday.

In football, various county senior final pairings were decided in Ulster, Leinster and Connacht with Corofin getting back to what they do best in Galway.

Dethroned in 2020 while chasing a remarkable eight-in-a-row, they powered past Killannin by 1-19 to 1-10, Dylan Canney with the first-half goal, and will face Mountbellew-Moylough in the final. In what was a repeat of the 2020 final, Mountbellew-Moylough defeated holders Moycullen 3-12 to 0-16.

Coalisland will play Dromore in the Tyrone SFC final after battling semi-final wins for both teams, 13-man Coalisland edging favourites Errigal Ciarán 3-6 to 0-14.

Final berth

Glen beat Loup 3-19 to 0-5 to set up a Derry decider date with Slaughtneil while Aghagallon, who overcame Portglenone 1-19 to 1-18 after four halves of extra-time, will play Creggan in the Antrim final.

A replay will be required between Derrygonnelly and Kinawley in Fermanagh so the county final will take place on Sunday, November 21st with Enniskillen Gaels making it through.

With Baltinglass already assured of their Wicklow final berth, Blessington held off Rathnew 0-17 to 2-6 to advance also.

Austin Stacks were the big winners on the opening weekend of the Kerry county championship, knocking out back to back champions East Kerry.

Veteran Kieran Donaghy lasted the duration for Stacks though David Clifford didn’t for East Kerry, the Fossa sensation sent off in a 1-7 to 1-5 win for Tralee side Stacks. Legion overcame Spa 5-4 on penalties while there wins too for Kerins O’Rahillys and South Kerry on Saturday. Sunday’s winners in the knock-out format which includes divisional teams were Dr Crokes, Templenoe, St Brendan’s and Dingle.

The subsequent quarter-final draw was as follows: Legion v St Brendans, Dingle v Kerins O’Rahillys, Templenoe v Dr Crokes and Austin Stacks v South Kerry.

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