This piece was originally published on LaoisToday in May 2020.
Clonaslee 0-13 Clonad 0-8
1975 Laois SFC Final
It remains the greatest day in Clonaslee hurling history.
In late October 1975, Clonaslee won the Laois SHC title for the first time in 65 years when they got the better of Clonad in the final in O’Moore Park.
Clonad had narrowly gotten the better of Clonaslee five years earlier but there was to be no denying Clonaslee in 1975.
Despite a long wait between their semi-final win over the great Camross team of that era, Clonaslee were deserving winners.
The long wait incidentally came because of a bizarre re-fixed semi-final on the other side when Colt had objected to Clonad’s win because of an incorrect refereeing decision.
Clonad comfortably won the re-fixture and went in search of their 14th senior title.
But the final day was to be Clonaslee’s.
“Sixty five years is a long time to wait for success,” said the Nationalist newspaper the following week.
“For Clonaslee hurlers years of frustration ended in success on Sunday, when they beat Clonad by five points to win their first Laois senior hurling championship since 1910.
“The entire population of the small Laois village at the game went wild with delight when referee Jimmy Rankin blew full-tíme.”
Clonaslee raced into a 0-6 to 0-0 lead early on but Clonad had it back to three at half time and kept in touch throughout the second half before a handful of late Paddy Bates frees got Clonaslee over the line.
“While the champions had many excellent players, they had none to match former Carlow player Moling Morrissey,” added Dick Barrett in his report.
“Listed at No. 6, he not alone gave a remarkable defensive performance, but also found time to operate as a third midfielder.
“His point in the opening half proved the best score of the gatne. His flankers, Mick O’Loughlin and Eddie McEvoy also played fine hurling, while John O’Keeffe played a captain’s part in the full-line, with JJ Carroll a most reliable goalie.
“Fran Bates, a man of many sports, had his greatest hour at midfield, while partner Phil Dillon moved well also. This, coupled with Morrissey’s performance, gave Clonaslee the edge at centre-field.
“Scorer of eight points (seven from frees) Paddy Bates on the ’40’ may have been the best forward on view, but in the youthful Declan O’Loughlin they also had another match-winner.
“In fact, of the 30 players, his performance was the most promising, not to mention the first quarter showing of Willie Dillon and the efforts of Mick O’Connor.”
Clonaslee returned to the final again in 1976, which they lost by four points to a Camross side that would reach that year’s All Ireland club final and win five-in-a-row in Laois.
Clonaslee haven’t been in a senior final since.
Clonad reached further finals in 1987 and 1991 and won their last senior title in 1992.
CLONASLEE: JJ Carroll; Tom Flynn, Peter McCarthy, John O’Keeffe; Eddie McEvoy, Moling Morrissey, Mick O’Loughlin; Fran Bates, Phil Dillon; Declan O’Loughlin, Paddy Bates, Willie Dillon; John Delahunty, Sean Murphy, Mick O’Connor. Subs: Richie O’Keeffe for Delahunty
CLONAD: Jim Fennell; Tony Fogarty, Louis Conroy, Frank Keane; Joe Conroy, Paddy Ging, John Ging; Paddy Bergin, Ollie Ford; Mark Delaney, Jack Harding, John Killeen; George Conroy, Johnnie Whelan, Ollie Fennell. Sub: Jack Conroy for Delaney