Captains Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields) and Paul Ryan (Upperchurch-Drombane) pictured ahead of the Mid Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship final.
Upperchurch-Drombane are chasing a first-ever Mid Tipperary senior hurling title at The Ragg on Sunday, but John Ryan’s men face the mighty Thurles Sarsfields - on September 3rd at 6pm the ‘Church will appear in their third senior divisional final and will be hoping for a little good fortune.
In the 2014 decider Upperchurch-Drombane came undone at the hands of Drom & Inch goalkeeper Damien Young who frustrated the efforts of the challengers at every turn and walked away with the man of the match award to boot (1-16 to 1-15).
There is not getting away from the fact that Upperchurch are up against it and John Ryan’s men will be counting on all the luck going against Sars - a club who are chasing a 44th Mid senior title. Indeed, Upperchurch need a series of unlikely events to unfold should they hope to escape from The Ragg with the win. They need, you suspect, the Sars to have an off day and the ‘Church men to play absolute blinders.
Since suffering a discouraging defeat at the hands of Borris-Ileigh (0-15 to 4-17) in the county championship Upperchurch have managed to turn their season around in some style - the ‘Church saw off JK Bracken’s (2-24 to 1-15) before dethroning defending champions Loughmore on Saturday evening (3-22 to 0-21) in the Mid. Three first half goals, which arrived courtesy of Loughlin Ryan (two) and Paul Shanahan, propelled Upperchurch into a 3-9 to 0-9 interval advantage.
The trouble now is that Upperchurch face un-backable favourites Thurles Sarsfields - the defending county champions have already presented Drom & Inch and Holycross-Ballycahill with 17-point drubbings (3-27 to 1-16 and 1-34 to 0-20 respectively) in the Mid championship while they also man-handled Carrick Swans (by 40 points), Kilruane MacDonagh’s (by seven points) and Nenagh Éire Óg (by 16 points) in the county championship.
Sars will be expected to win, but there is hope for an Upperchurch side who produced a sensational performance to beat 2016 county finalists Kiladangan earlier this season (0-15 to 1-9).
Last Five Mid Tipperary Senior
Hurling Championship Finals
2012 Thurles Sarsfields 7-16 Loughmore-Castleiney 2-13
2013 Drom & Inch 3-20 Loughmore-Castleiney 1-11
2014 Drom & Inch 1-16 Upperchurch-Drombane 1-15
2015 Thurles Sarsfields 1-17 Loughmore-Castleiney 2-13
2016 Loughmore-Castleiney 1-20 Drom & Inch 2-16 aet
Pictured above at a press event hosted to preview the Centenary Agri Mid Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship final were from left: Joe Kennedy (Mid Tipperary Board chairman), Pádraic Maher (Thurles Sarsfields captain), Paul Ryan (Upperchurch-Drombane captain) and Joe Kerrigan (Centenary Agri). Photo: Eamonn McGee