Dinny Hogan’s Portroe had to settle for a share of the points at MacDonagh Park in Nenagh on Sunday afternoon when Roscrea fought back from five points down with eleven minutes to play to earn themselves a draw. Indeed, the Roscrea outfit managed by Liam Dunphy and coached by former Clare great Colin Lynch may well have edged this late on, but Luke Cashin’s awkward late free drifted wide.
Tipperary Water County
Senior Hurling Championship
Portroe 1-18 Roscrea 0-21
It’s just as well as Portroe did not deserve to lose. Ever since Portroe emerged as a senior club in 1990 they have belied their numbers and fought manfully to preserve their status while also famously winning the North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship in 2012. On Sunday they found themselves up against a Roscrea team sprinkled with plenty of talent, but Portroe refused to yield and with Ruadhan Mulrooney giving an exhibition of his aerial ability the side coached by John Mulqueen (Limerick) set the terms and conditions of this encounter for long stages.
Considering the fact that Kiladangan and Drom & Inch also populate group four of the county senior hurling championship the significance of this meeting was not lost on either party. And, as a result the sides flew into the challenges right from the off.
After thirteen frantic minutes the sides were level (0-4 each). Emerging inter-county star Robert Byrne set the tone with a terrific point in the opening minute, but Roscrea created the first goal-scoring opportunity of the contest in the sixth minute when Sam Conlon was hooked with the goal at his mercy.
Following two Luke Cashin points (one free, one ’65) Roscrea led by a significant two (0-6 to 0-4) with fifteen minutes played - please note that Portroe were playing with the aid of the breeze in the opening half.
Portroe hit back with points from James Ryan and Mark Gennery to tie the game, but when Roscrea landed three of their own through Conor Sheedy and Luke Cashin (two frees) Port really needed to close out the opening half well and did so when Kevin O’Halloran, Aidan Willis and John Sheedy (free) landed late shots; O’Halloran’s effort off the hurley following a jinking run in the 27th minute was particularly noteworthy (0-9 each).
This contest arrived at what appeared a significant juncture two minutes into the second half when John Sheedy’s shot was brilliantly deflected by ‘keeper Enda Moloney onto the Roscrea crossbar and although Mark Gennery fired over the rebound Portroe argued that Sheedy’s original shot had actually beaten Moloney and ricocheted back out off a stanchion.
Following the game referee Conor Doyle was happy to confirm that this was not the case; his umpires saw the incident quite clearly and were confident in their decision not to award a goal in this instance.
A Darragh Tynan point tied matters up, but just then Ruadhan Mulrooney sparked into devastating life. And, it is terrifically encouraging to see this talented young player recover so impressively from a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Mulrooney was fouled for a free which John Sheedy converted and then grabbed Kevin O’Halloran’s delivery from a placed ball in the 36th minute before pointing. Another stunning catch and point followed soon after before Mulrooney was fouled once more in the 40th minute and Sheedy converted the free (0-14 to 0-10).
Roscrea hit back through Evan Fitzpatrick and Shane Fletcher, but with seventeen minutes to play Aidan Willis booted home a Portroe goal following a goalmouth scramble to present his side with a precious five-point lead (1-14 to 0-12).
Following an exchange of points there were still five between the sides with eleven minutes to play (1-16 to 0-14) and although the Roscrea side featured a large quota of young talent Liam Dunphy’s side kept plugging away.
Efforts from Evan Fitzpatrick and Luke Cashin (free) reeled their opponents in a little and although Ruadhan Mulrooney grabbed another ball and set up Robert Byrne for a point in the 53rd minute the Roscrea lads happened upon a purple patch between the 54th and 57th minute when Luke Cashin (free), Jason Fitzpatrick (free), Sam Conlon and Evan Fitzpatrick landed points. Sam Conlon’s effort was of the magnificent variety - the left-hander was heading for the sideline at full speed on the right flank when he won the ball, turned and landed his shot off his right.
The game was tied entering second half injury time and although a Luke Cashin free presented Roscrea with a narrow lead in the 61st minute John Sheedy responded with another for Portroe seconds later to earn his side a draw.
Roscrea: Enda Moloney, Conor Bergin, Michael Campion, Colman Treacy, Darren O’Connor, Joe Carroll, Shane Davis, Darragh Tynan (0-2), Evan Fitzpatrick (0-3), Conor Booth, Shane Fletcher (0-2), Conor Sheedy (0-1), Luke Cashin (0-11, 0-8 frees, 0-3 ‘65s), Lee Cashin, Sam Conlon (0-1). Subs: (36th) Jason Fitzpatrick (0-1, 0-1 free) for Conor Sheedy, (39th) Dan Ryan for Lee Cashin, (44th) Glenn Loughnane for Conor Booth.
Portroe: Darren Gleeson, Michael Creamer, Michael Breen, Cormac Keating, Brian Keating, Christopher O’Riordan, Colm Gleeson, Kevin O’Halloran (0-1), James Ryan (0-1), Jimmy Creamer, Robert Byrne (0-2), Ruadhan Mulrooney (0-3), Aidan Willis (1-1), John Sheedy (0-8, 0-8 frees), Mark Gennery (0-2). Subs: (41st) Conor O’Brien for Mark Gennery, (58th) Jack Moloney for Aidan Willis.
Referee: Conor Doyle (Silvermines).
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