Thurles Town are just one point away from claiming back to back North Tipperary & District League titles after a tight 2-1 victory over BT Harps on Sunday last. Town, now one of the most talked about clubs in the region have seen a huge change in fortunes since the arrival of Noel Byrne mid-way through the 2015/16 season, claiming their first ever league title after forty years of waiting only last season and remaining unbeaten in that time also, their only points dropped in a draw to Cloughjordan Fc this campaign.
While there is no doubt in this sides pedigree it hasn’t been all plain sailing as the cup competitions, both nationally and domestically, have eluded them, players have come and gone as well as a new character in the management set up in Brian “Boca” Glasheen.
Glasheen had been out of a job since being relieved of his duties with TSDL Premier Division outfit Tipperary Town due to some alleged online comments. This was a bitter end for the man who had lead the side to the TSDL Premier Division for the very first time in their history following a 4-0 playoff win against Cahir Park. This was a great move by Byrne, as he knew that in getting Glasheen, it would mean a certain quality of players would follow after the losses of Eoghan Vaughan, Micheál Foley and further down the line Captain and last season’s top scorer Barry Ryan.
Indeed, Thurles strengthened hugely this season as no less than eleven players arrived as they went in search of even bigger achievements for the season coming. Derek Loughnane, Ross King and Conor O’Brien all came in having not played in a while but Wallace Burke, James Hogan (Both Tipperary Town), Joe Moloney (Athlone Town), Eoin Byrne (Rosegreen), Pa Lawlor (Borroway Rovers), Conor English (Evergreen), Adrian Cleere (Clonmel Town), and Oisín Duffy (Swilly Rovers) were all signed in their bid for greater challenges.
Their runs in both the FAI and Munster Junior Cups were cut short after losses to Clonmel Celtic and Peake Villa respectively. No-one would have been surprised if this broke the confidence of this side but that wasn’t to be as they now just need one point from two games to secure the Premier Division title.
Thurles Town’s last league defeat was a 5-2 loss at the hands of Nenagh Celtic on March 6th, 2016, the last league game under former Manager Fintan Moore. Byrne would take the reins on the 14th of the same month and would remain unbeaten for what is now just over two years (31 games), winning all but one, a 2-2 draw with Cloughjordan in August of last year. Town won all sixteen of their league games last season, most with consummate ease, but they knew going into this season they would have a huge target on their back as almost every team would like to be the one that stopped the unstoppable. Town have won five goals by the odd goal in this campaign and sources within the club will tee you how lucky they were in some of those games, but their winning mentality always seemed to get them through.
Town have a top keeper in Graeme Loughman, a real tinkerman of the game, who’s numerous top-quality saves has aided supremely in their title pursuit. Town have only conceded twelve league goals this season and keeping three clean sheets with much thanks to Glasheens three-man central defence tactics, Aaron Ryan has been a beast in the back line and they have only conceded more than one goal in a game just three times this season. Adrian Cleere, Ted O’Connor and Wallace Burke fight for the other two positions in defence while Micheál Byrne and Martin Darmody have been main stays in the wings.
Aidan Keenan has probably been the player of the year this season as the centre midfielder rarely puts in a below par performance, he is accompanied in the middle on most occasions by Paraic Fogarty and Joe Moloney, two players that would be a super addition to any squad. Goals have been on the menu all season for Town as they have notched up forty-one in their twelve games, at least ten more than any other side in the division. With thirteen players getting on the scoresheet it is easy to see that they are a dangerous outfit all over the park, Paul Kirwan top scoring on eight while Joe Moloney sits just two goals behind.
Town have been an amazing addition to the league since the departure of Nenagh Afc to Limerick and they have certainly heightened the profile of the league since Byrne and most recently Glasheen entered the fray.
Town make the short trip to local rivals Borroway Rovers this Sunday for an 11.30am kick off as they look to add to last season’s league win.
NT&DL Premier Division
|2||Killavilla United AFC||8||7||0||1||38||10||28||21|
|7||Clodiagh Rangers Fc||8||0||2||6||9||34||-25||2|