Midfielder Johnny Ryan was bang on target with a sixty-meter free in the tenth minute of added time to secure Drom & Inch a draw in a thrilling Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship group three play-off contest against Upperchurch-Drombane under lights at Templetuohy on Wednesday evening, September 11th.
Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship Group Three Play-Off
Upperchurch-Drombane 0-13 Drom & Inch 0-13
The Upperchurch supporters in the huge gathering wondered at the amount of additional time played and, indeed, at the free which presented the Drom man with the opportunity to level the game, but, overall, a draw was an appropriate result.
As a consequence Upperchurch-Drombane were scheduled to play Thurles Sarsfields, the county champions, in the second of the play-off games on Sunday, September 16th following a pre-match toss of a coin. The Drom & Inch v Thurles Sarsfields game, which will complete the play-off, is scheduled to take place on Wednesday evening, September 19th under lights.
The top two teams from the play-offs will go forward to the knock-out stages of the county senior hurling championship.
Having lost to Upperchurch-Drombane earlier in the campaign with a depleted side the expectation was that Drom & Inch, who were so impressive against Thurles Sarsfields a week earlier would make amends and put themselves in an advantageous position going into their second game. But they were hit by an Upperchurch broadside in the opening eleven minutes which yielded a seven-point return as a scoreless Drom sought to get to grips with the conditions made difficult by a continuous drizzle.
Jack Butler, who shot four of those points, was in devastating form for the Church as the large crowd warmed to the contest. Drom’s recovery was steady rather than spectacular and largely led by Seamus Callanan’s free-taking, though he did have a few lapses. By the interval they had clawed their way into the game.
Four points adrift (0-5 to 0-9) they were well-placed to redress the situation, but a significant improvement in both the quality and intensity of their approach was required to stifle the enthusiasm of an Upperchurch outfit which had James Barry, Dean Carew, Pat Shortt and Michael Lee all buzzing with confidence. Liam Ryan, Kevin Hassett, Shane Hassett and Johnny Ryan were doing their utmost to get a sluggish Drom moving in that lively opening period.
It took Drom twenty minutes of the second period before they finally drew level - four points in eight minutes from Shane Hassett (two) and Seamie Callanan (two) between the 42nd and 50th minutes achieved parity and when Callanan fired over a point from a free three minutes later to give his side the lead, to which David Collins added another in the 57th minute, it looked as though Drom & Inch were on course for victory.
Upperchurch, however, showed admirable self-belief in those tense closing minutes. Presented with a twenty-meter free two minutes into added time Pat Shortt opted for a safe point, a decision endorsed when Jack Butler fired over the equaliser in the 63rd minute.
And, the excitement did not stop at that as four minutes later Pat Shortt again pointed a free for Upperchurch who now looked sure winners. But there was another twist. Seamus Callanan won possession for Drom around midfield and was bearing down on goal under pressure when referee Garrett Howard, who handled a very competitive encounter well, deemed the Upperchurch efforts to restrain him in breach of the rules and awarded a free which Johnny Ryan duly dispatched to earn each side a point.
The outcome presents many possibilities for the remaining two games in the play-off as these combatants engage with Thurles Sarsfields. For Upperchurch there is the shorter turn-around and they will be hoping that Padraig Greene who missed this encounter through injury will be fit to line out against the champions. His presence would add immensely to their attacking options. They will also be hoping that four days is sufficient recovery time, but the positive is that this performance should give them a huge boost in confidence. In addition to those already mentioned goalie Ciaran Shortt was coolness personified with Matt Ryan and Ger Grant also to the fore.
Having recovered from a poor start to get into a winning position Drom will be disappointed to have let victory slip from their grasp, but encouraged by the spirit shown to retrieve the situation at the death. However, given that they did not play to their full potential the share of the spoils was not a bad result for them and their place in the knock-out stages is still very much in their own hands.
Liam Ryan’s injury will be a concern as he was rock-solid in defence all through. Kevin Hassett, Robbie Long and Jamie Moloney, who also picked up an injury, were others to do well in this department. David Collins’ influence increased as the game progressed while Johnny Ryan and Shane Hassett were also key figures and Seamie Callanan’s threat was there all the time.
Upperchurch-Drombane: Ciaran Shortt, Ger Grant, Matt Ryan, Dean Carew, John Ryan, James Barry, James Greene, Colm Ryan, Gavin Ryan, Pat Shortt (0-6, 0-4 frees), Jack Butler (0-5), Diarmuid Grant, Loughlin Ryan, Paul Shanahan, Michael Lee (0-2). Subs: Colm Stapleton for Lee, Michael Lavery for Greene, Eugene Shortt for D Grant, Niall Grant for L Ryan.
Drom & Inch: Damien Young, Robbie Long, Liam Ryan, Jamie Moloney, Michael Purcell, James Woodlock, Kevin Hassett, Johnny Ryan (0-1 free), David Collins (0-1), Stevie Nolan, David Butler (0-1), Joe Lupton, Shane Hassett (0-1), Seamus Callanan (0-9, 0-6 frees), Michael Campion. Subs: Padraic Campion for L Ryan.
Referee: Garrett Howard (Burgess).
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