Loughmore-Castleiney captain John Meagher pictured accepting the Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship trophy from Mid Board chairman Jonathan Cullen & secretary Sally Young. Photo: Eamonn McGee
Three unanswered points in the second half of extra time enabled Loughmore-Castleiney to retain their Gleeson Quarries sponsored Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship title at The Ragg on Friday evening when they overcame Upperchurch-Drombane in a contest that was always interesting, but which failed to really ignite.
Gleeson Quarries Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship Final
Loughmore-Castleiney 1-12 Upperchurch-Drombane 1-9
This was Loughmore’s fourth title on the trot and the third year in-a-row that they defeated Upperchurch in the final.
With both sides committed to retaining possession and very comfortable on the ball too much of the game was spent in recycling possession from side to side. Both showed a distinct reluctance to have a go, even inside the fourteen-metre mark which made for rather frustrating viewing for spectators.
However, the closeness of the scoring kept the fans engaged and when Upperchurch reflect on this encounter they will realise that they had the chances to bring off a first senior title for the club. They will point to a Diarmuid Grant effort in the first half which skewed over the bar when a goal seemed on and also to how easily they conceded the Loughmore goal. In a game of fine margins these things count, big time.
Loughmore too had their share of squandered opportunities, but their greater experience and particularly the leadership of Noel McGrath and John Meagher were crucial while Liam McGrath’s accuracy in front of goal, despite a couple of lapses, was also a key factor in their success.
The challengers hit the ground running. Liam McGrath had the first score of the game, a point for Loughmore when his blast for goal was deflected by Upperchurch goalie Loughlin Ryan over the bar, but then Upperchurch hit a purple patch. A point by Colm Stapleton was followed by a Padraig Greene goal after Niall Grant created the chance in the eighth minute. These were followed by points from Paul Shanahan and Diarmuid Grant, a blast which might have ended in the net.
Leading 1-3 to 0-1 after the first quarter, Upperchurch were playing with great confidence and lots of intelligent movement and use of the ball. The possibility of an upset was on the cards, but Loughmore settled to their task and got a great boost in the 26th minute when Brian McGrath received from his brother, Noel, and finished to the Upperchurch net with great aplomb. Tommy Maher added a point to level, but on the stroke of half-time Jack Butler nudged Upperchurch ahead again - 1-6 to 1-5 at the break.
Those late Loughmore scores deflated Upperchurch somewhat, but they fought the low-scoring second half with great resilience. The sides were tied at 1-8 each with 52 minutes gone and that’s how it stayed to the final whistle of normal time.
The first period of added time changed little, Niall Grant for Upperchurch and John McGrath for Loughmore swapping points, but in the second half of extra time Loughmore came good with Evan Sweeney, Aidan McGrath and Liam McGrath notching points.
Upperchurch threw everything into their pursuit of a levelling goal and Loughmore lost John McGrath to a black card at the very end as the champions fought to hold what they had, but in the end it was yet another title for Loughmore.
Upperchurch can hold their heads high after this performance and they will surely do well in the county championship. They have developed into a very confident and accomplished outfit, but a bit more penetration is required near goal.
The Grants - Ger, Diarmuid, and Niall - James Barry, Jack Butler, Paul Shanahan and goalkeeper Loughlin Ryan were their key men.
Loughmore-Castleiney will not need telling that this was not one of their better performances, but they showed lots of spirit when the chips were down and it was that which carried them through. Noel McGrath and John Meagher showed the way, but Eoghan Ryan, Lorcan Egan, Brian McGrath, Evan Sweeney and Liam McGrath also worked hard to achieve this success.
Loughmore-Castleiney’s Noel McGrath pictured accepting the man of the match award from Mid Board chairman Jonathan Cullen and secretary Sally Young following the Gleeson Quarries Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship final. Photo: Eamonn McGee
Loughmore-Castleiney: Dominic Brennan; Lorcan Egan, John Meagher, Tomás McGrath; Eoghan Ryan, Ciarán McGrath, Joseph Nyland; Noel McGrath (0-1), Tommy Maher (0-1); Brian McGrath (1-0), Liam Treacy (0-1), John McGrath (0-1); Evan Sweeney (0-2), Aidan McGrath (0-1), Liam McGrath (0-5, 0-3 frees). Subs: Ciarán Connolly for T Maher; Joseph Hennessy for A McGrath; Tommy Maher for L Treacy; L Treacy for J McGrath (black card).
Upperchurch-Drombane: Loughlin Ryan; Ger Grant, Matt Ryan, Dean Carew; James Barry, Colm Ryan, Diarmuid Grant (0-1); Paul Shanahan (0-3, 0-3 frees), Jack Butler; John Ryan, Colm Stapleton (0-2, 0-1 frees), Pádraig Greene (1-0); Pat Shortt (0-1), J Butler (0-1), Niall Grant (0-1). Subs: Conor Fahey for Shortt; Eoin Shortt for TJ Butler.
Referee: Séamus Delaney (JK Bracken’s).
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