By Noel Dundon
Mid Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship
Boherlahan Dualla 0-13 Holycross Ballycahill 1-7
Boherlahan Dualla came from seven points down at half time to qualify for the MacLochlainn Roadmarkings Mid Senior hurling quarter final when they staged a remarkable comeback against neighbours Holycross Ballycahill at the Ragg on Sunday afternoon last – they end up in the quarters at the expense of their opponents on the head-to-head rule.
This was a result that few saw coming at half time as the Boherlahan Dualla lads trailed by 1-7 to 0-3. And, despite the fact that they would play wind assisted in the second half, there was little confidence in them having the attacking acumen to overturn the deficit, going on the basis of the first half which had yielded no score from play – three Darragh Hickey pointed frees being their sum total.
But, who knew that Holycross Ballycahill would fail to score at all in the second half? Yes, it was quite an awful peformance from them and leaves them scratching the heads after their first round win over Brackens seemed to get them off on the right foot. It has gone downhill from there though and will take quite an effort and attitude change to get the legs pumping again in the championship.
Although they faced the elements in the first half, Darragh Hickey had the opening score of the game for Boherlahan Dualla in the 3rd minute. But, by the time he had registered their second point in the 14th, Holycross Ballycahill had tagged points from Seanie Nally and Robbie Stakelum, while Nally palmed a 12th minute goal with the ball in flight when he met it hand on. The Holycross lads went on to secure further scores from Liam Dwan, Liam McCullagh, Darragh Duggan and a brace from Gary Byrne to give them the seven point half time advantage. And, it seemed as though the lead would be enough for them as Boherlahan Dualla were simply not firing at all up front. Yes, they were working hard, but their hard work was not being matched with creativity and the scores were not flowing as a result.
The curious aspect of the revival was that the vast bulk of the scores came from way outfield. In fact, only Seamie Leahy and Darragh Hickey points of Boherlahan Dualla’s ten in the second half, came from inside 30 yards. They weren’t fussy though and even keeper Joe Ryan contributed two huge long distance points to set up, what was, a famous victory.
Hickey had a brace early on to make his side believe that something could come from the game for them. Joe Ryan and Leahy followed up with two more and then Hickey, Fionn McCullagh and Derek Patterson had the sides level with 20 gone. Once sensed that if Boherlahan Dualla hit the front, they wouldn’t be stopped. They did and weren’t.
Darragh Hickey gave them the lead in the 24th and Joe Ryan struck a free from his own 21 yard line to double the advantage, before Aidan Maher secured the win with an injury time beauty. Holycross Ballycahill trudged off the field, defeated in mind as well as scoreline. That they failed to score in the second half is a huge blow to their morale. They managed to drive 13 wides in the hour and made some really basic errors on the day. Perhaps more seriously though, the hearts of some didn’t seem to be in it and the normal spirit associated with the green jersey was lacking. Rectifying this will be a big challenge. Best for them were Michael Doyle, Pierce Stakelum, Seanie Nally and Liam McCullagh.
Credit Boherlahan Dualla for showing tremendous resolve – what they lacked in finese, they certainly made up for heart and guts. They were undaunted by the half time deficit and went about working their way back into the game with great patience. Their long range shooting was quite impressive and despite managing to hit 10 wides in the hour, they still split the posts on enough occasions to see them over the line in front.
Willie Hickey, Aidan Maher, Derek Patterson, John Dwyer, Darragh Hickey, and Johnny Maher were very prominent in the fight back, while Darragh Kennedy did well also when introduced.
This victory sets up a quarter final tie for Boherlahan Dualla with Thurles.
Boherlahan Dualla: J Ryan 0-2, J Maher, S Hickey, AJ Maher, B Quinn, W Hickey, A Maher 0-1, D Patterson 0-1, J Dwyer, P Maher, F McCullagh 0-1, D Hickey 0-7, S Leahy 0-1, L Hickey, B Maher. Subs: D Kennedy for B Quinn; G Sullivan for L Hickey; E Moloney for B Maher.
Holycross Ballycahill: T Lowry, C Carroll, J Doyle, P Dwyer, G Byrne 0-2, Pierce Stakelum, M Doyle, L McCullagh 0-1, S Ryan, Dara Duggan 0-1, L Dwan 0-1, S Nally 1-1, C Barrett, Donncha Duggan, R Stakelum 0-1. Subs: D Ferncombe for Dara Duggan; M Harty for R Stakelum; C Comerford for L McCullagh.
Referee: W Clohessy.