Two points in added time gave Upperchurch-Drombane their place in the Gleeson Quarries Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship final against Loughmore-Castleiney as they shaded an absorbing contest against Drom & Inch at Holycross on Saturday evening.
Gleeson Quarries Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Upperchurch-Drombane 0-14 Drom & Inch 1-9
Both of these clubs have firmly established themselves as formidable dual clubs and while both have yet to make the breakthrough by lifting a Mid senior title their day cannot be too far off as they continue to grow in confidence on the senior stage having enjoyed great success at junior, intermediate and underage level.
This was the proverbial game of two halves with Upperchurch the dominant force in the first period and then Drom getting on top after the break only to be caught late by the recovering Upperchurch lads.
It made for great entertainment for the modest attendance most of whom were pondering the possibility of extra-time when Upperchurch came with a late surge for victory.
The first half was Upperchurch’s as they called the shots all the way. The went three points clear after four minutes thanks to a Paul Shanahan brace and a beauty from Padraig Greene. Drom were slow into their stride, but two points from David Collins got them moving.
By the break for water in the sweltering heat Upperchurch were 0-5 to 0-3 ahead and on resuming Colm Stapleton had a powerful shot saved by Drom’s Shane Hassett. Pat Shortt was also denied a goal, but at the break Upperchurch were ahead 0-9 to 0-4 and looking likely winners.
Drom were a different team when play resumed. Though Paul Shanahan kicked the first point of the period for Upperchurch, Drom hit back with four on the trot through Jamie Moloney, David Butler, Michael Campion and Johnny Ryan to be only two adrift after ten minutes.
Niall Grant (free) eased the pressure on Upperchurch who had goalie Loughlin Ryan to thank for a great save from Mikey Connors whose goal chance could have levelled the game at the second water break.
Drom got their levelling goal in the 53rd minute when James Woodlock obliged after David Butler had created the opportunity. A minute later at the other end Niall Grant’s goal-bound effort for Upperchurch was taken off the line by Colm Kinane as the tension increased.
Drom’s Jamie Bergin and Upperchurch’s Niall Grant swapped points before Upperchurch defender Dean Carew thought he had slipped home what surely would have been a winning goal only for the post to intervene in the 59th minute.
By now Upperchurch had regained their momentum and in injury time Conor Fahey put them ahead. Dean Carew had another chance to seal it for them, but it did not come off. However, with virtually the last kick of the game Paul Shanahan put Upperchurch two points clear, a margin they held to Sean Everard’s final whistle.
This was a gripping contest that could have gone either way, but when it mattered most Upperchurch had a slight edge and will relish their second appearance in the final against Loughmore-Castleiney.
There is a strong core to Upperchurch team; they are all comfortable on the ball and while Paul Shanahan, Colm Stapleton, the Grants and James Barry are the leaders there is no shortage of quality back-up with Matt Ryan and Colm Ryan also to the fore.
Drom will bemoan a disappointing first half as they reflect on this loss. They had enough chances, but on four occasions the posts denied them apart from what they sent astray. They must now concentrate on their county campaign, but they have good grounds for optimism as they seek to keep their season alive. They too have lots of talent in their side with James Woodlock, David Butler, Jamie Moloney, Tommy Nolan and David Collins most impressive.
Upperchurch-Drombane: Loughlin Ryan; Ger Grant, Matt Ryan, Dean Carew; John Ryan, Colm Ryan, Diarmuid Grant; James Barry, Jack Butler; Padraig Greene (0-1), Colm Stapleton (0-2), Pat Shortt; TJ Butler (0-1), Paul Shanahan (0-5, 0-2 frees), Niall Grant (0-4, 0-4 frees). Subs: Eoin Shortt for TJ Butler; Conor Fahey (0-1) for P Shortt.
Drom & Inch: Shane Hassett; Robbie Long, Michael Purcell, Colm Kinane; Johnny Ryan (0-1), James Woodlock (1-0), Padraic Campion; Tommy Nolan, David Collins (0-2); Liam Ryan, David Butler (0-2), Michael Campion (0-1); Stevie Nolan, Mikey Connors (0-1), Jamie Moloney (0-1). Subs: Jamie Bergin (0-1) for Connors.
Referee: Sean Everard (Moyne-Templetuohy).
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