County champions Drom-Inch were whitewashed by Mid standard bearers Loughmore Castleiney in the replayed MacLochlainn Roadmarkings Mid senior hurling championship semi-final at Templetuohy on Saturday evening last, in a game which left most observers scratching their heads.
How these two teams could have served up a 2-21 apiece drawn game a few weeks ago was a mystery considering the huge gulf in standard evident in the replay. Loughmore Castleiney simply tore Drom-Inch apart on a night when every single break seemed to go against them. Indeed, such was the nature of the defeat that one could only contend that the result was freakish – just one of those things, and a performance unlikely to be repeated by the holders of the Dan Breen cup.
Loughmore Castleiney dominated for three quarters of the game with Drom-Inch only really offering resistence in the opening fifteen minutes. And, even at that, keeper Damien Young was forced to go airborne to beat away a John McGrath drive for goal after only 30 seconds – an early indication of the Loughmore Castleiney men’s intentions.
There was little Young could do about Evan Sweeney’s goal in the 5th minute though after Liam McGrath had set him up and the holders went on to lead by 1-6 to 0-5 at the end of the quarter – Liam, Noel, John and Ciaran McGrath all pointing for them, while David Butler, Seamus Callanan (3) and Pat Lupton were on target for Drom-Inch.
Granted Loughmore Castleiney were playing with the aid of the breeze in the half, but their second quarter showing yielded them a further 1-8, to Drom-Inch’s 0-2 – a period which effectively laid the foundations for their victory.
A series of points from Noel McGrath (2), Tom King, Aidan McGrath (2), Liam Treacy, Liam McGrath and John McGrath, and a goal from Cian Hennessy in the 28th minute left Loughmore Castleiney in a very comfortable 2-14 to 0-7 position at the break.
Drom-Inch trundled off at the interval with the heads bowed and the spirits broken. Yes, they would have the breeze to aid them upon turnaround, but they would find Loughmore Castleiney in no mood to relinquish a 13 point lead. Anyway, Drom-Inch were not playing well enough to suggest that they could reverse the scoreline and the fact that Loughmore Castleiney punished every single error – and there were many uncharacteristic errors – all pointed to a divisional final which would not include the county champions. So it proved to be.
A brace of points early in the half from both sides – Liam McGrath and Evan Sweeney against Seamus Callanan (2), followed by two more from Liam McGrath and Tom King, had people leaving the grounds. Drom-Inch had three in succession from James Ryan, and Callanan (2), but they needed goals really at this stage and didn’t look like getting them – they didn’t.
In fact, it was Young who again came to the rescue of Drom-Inch with a fine save from David Kennedy, but he could do nothing about a real finishers goal from Liam McGrath in the 21st minute to add salt to the already gaping Drom-Inch wounds.
The game petered out rather tamely thereafter with the Drom-Inch lads defeated and the Loughmore Castleiney lads happy in the knowledge that they would face Sarsfields on Sunday evening next in the divisional decider.
Loughmore Castleiney played some very smart and brisk hurling indeed in this game. They were lethal in attack and managed to put the shackles on the normally fluent Drom-Inch forward division. They were certainly up for the game and with the scores coming from nine different sources, they simply had too much firepower on the day for their opponents. Evan Sweeney bagged 1-3 upon his return to action from injury; Liam McGrath 1-8 and Noel McGrath 0-4. But, the performances of Eddie Connolly, Tom King, David Kennedy and Liam Treacy were also noteworthy, while Willie Eviston was rock solid in defence. They will take some beating in the divisional and county championship if they continue to play with the same level of bite and fluency. They have leaders and winners in each department – probably even in each line. County championship contenders? Definitely.
Whither Drom-Inch now? Two schools of though prevail – either they fold up the tent and write off the season. Or, they respond with a backlash and get themselves back into contention.
The latter would seem the likely scenario for them but while they missed the presence of James Woodlock and David Collins through injury, they will be very concerned at their flat approach on the night. They were simply stuck to the ground and allowed themselves to be trampled underfoot – it certainly was not the Drom-Inch the division is more accustomed to seeing these days.
Thing is, they can, and will, probably, get back on the horse and mount a charge at defending their title. They didn’t become a bad team overnight and they will know that there is much more in them than the semi-final suggests. Best for them on a very disappointing evening were Damien Young, Enda Walsh, Johnny Ryan and Micheal Butler.
Loughmore Castleiney:J Scully, T McGrath, D Bourke, W Eviston, A McGrath 0-2, E Connolly, T King 0-2, N McGrath 0-4, L Treacy 0-1, E Sweeney 1-3, C McGrath 0-1, J McGrath 0-2, L McGrath 1-8, D Kennedy, C Hennessy 1-0. Subs: J Ryan for J McGrath; T Long for T King; L Egan for D Kennedy.
Drom-Inch: D Young, P Stapleton, Micheal Butler, M Costelloe, E Walsh, E Buckley, James Ryan 0-1, J Moloney 0-1, Johnny Ryan 0-3, S Callanan 0-7, P Collins, S Butler 0-1, P Lupton 0-1, D Butler 0-1, K Butler 0-1. Subs: S Hassett for K Butler; M Ryan for P Lupton; S Delaney for P Stapleton.
Referee: G Fitzpatrick (Roscrea).