We were beaten by better team, admits McNaughton as his St Enda's reign ends
Tullaroan 3-20 St Enda's 0-14
A remarkable campaign ended with a humbling defeat in Parnell Park as the hurlers of St Enda's lost their All-Ireland Club IHC semi-final by 15 points to Kilkenny side Tullaroan.
The mercurial Tommy Walsh, a nine-time Liam MacCarthy Cup winner with the Cats, bagged a goal in either half with centre-forward Martin Keoghan scoring the other goal in emphatic fashion as Tullaroan laid down a marker for their All-Ireland final clash with Fr O'Neill's of Cork later this month.
The game also marked the end of Terence McNaughton's short but incredibly successful tenure at Hightown with the former Antrim boss set to return to his native Cushendall in a coaching capacity for the forthcoming season.
McNaughton offered a typically forthright assessment following Saturday's defeat.
"They (Tullaroan) were much the better team and that's the bottom line," said McNaughton.
"I couldn't manage them (St Enda's) against Cushendall this season.
"My club is my club, what do you say? It is your family.
"St Enda's are a great club, I enjoyed the past year and it has been good for me as a coach."
St Enda's suffered a nightmare start when Cats legend Walsh scored his side's opening goal after just two minutes moments after setting up Jack Keoghan for the first point of the game.
Mark Keoghan's delivery wasn't cleared by the St Enda's defence and after Peter Walsh's shot was blocked, Tommy Walsh pulled on the loose sliotar while still on his knees after a challenge and his effort was enough to beat Martin Curran.
The free-taking prowess of John McGoldrick kept St Enda's in contention during a frenetic opening quarter, and the corner-forward could have drawn his side level but for a stunning double save from Tullaroan goalkeeper Paul Buggy.
Cormac Jenning played a delightful ball into the danger zone but McGoldrick's effort was brilliantly stopped by Buggy at the near post, while Darrach Cooper's follow-up shot lacked conviction.
Still the Glengormley side battled on gamely, but despite Tullaroan hitting seven wides, they still led 1-11 to 0-6 at the break with Shane Walsh scoring 0-6, including 0-5 which came from frees.
The Kilkenny champions maintained the upper hand for the majority of the second half until St Enda's hit a purple patch with McGoldrick (two), Ryan Bogue and Ruairi Donaghy hitting some fine points.
Tullaroan pulled clear late on with a remarkable individual goal from centre-forward Martin Keoghan to put the Kilkenny men 2-17 to 0-12 ahead on 54 minutes.
With two minutes of normal time remaining, the legendary Tommy Walsh landed his second goal of the contest with an emphatic finish beyond the reach of Curran.
ST ENDA'S: M Curran; N O'Connor, R Gillen, R Diamond; M Mullan, M Donaghy, C Ross (0-1); R Bogue (0-3), J Maskey; P Curran, R Donaghy (0-1), C Jennings; J McGoldrick (0-6, 0-5fs, 0-1 65),D Cooper, K Jennings (0-2).
Subs: R Crummey for Cooper (46mins), M O'Hare (0-1) for C Jennings (46mins), E O'Connor for P Curran (55mins), D Lowry for K Jennings (59mins), D Maguire for R Donaghy (63mins).
TULLARONAN: P Buggy; D Doheny, T Walsh, S Maher; M Walsh, P Walsh (0-1), J Keoghan (0-1); T Dunne (0-1), M Walsh (0-3); B Gaffney (0-1), M Keoghan (1-1), J Walton (0-1); S Walsh (0-9, 0-7fs), T Walsh (2-1), P Walsh.
Subs: D Simpson for M Walsh (46mins) K Coogan for P Walsh (51mins), G Luby for Gaffney (57mins), S Cuddihy (0-1) for Walton (58mins), S Dowling for S Walsh (59mins).
Referee: S Hynes (Galway).