No one saw this coming! Loughmore-Castleiney handed Upperchurch-Drombane a sixteen-point drubbing in round three of group one in the FBD Insurance County Senior Hurling Championship at Templetuohy on Saturday to ensure themselves of a place in the knock-out stages of the competition.
FBD Insurance County Senior Hurling Championship
Loughmore-Castleiney 3-25 Upperchurch-Drombane 0-18
This was as lop-sided an encounter as you could imagine and a huge disappointment to the large gathering who came to Templetuohy in expectation of a thriller - both sides needed to win to make the qualifying stages automatically.
This was a Loughmore-Castleiney display which confirms their championship-winning credentials, the only cloud over it being Liam McGrath who limped off the field at the finish with a leg injury - with the games coming thick and fast from now on Loughmore will be hoping it is not too serious.
For ten minutes this pairing looked like it would produce the thriller expected. Loughmore had a Liam McGrath goal after seven minutes to lead 1-2 to 0-3, but Upperchurch, with Padraig Greene showing up prominently, were level 0-5 to 1-2 after a lively opening ten minutes.
The next ten minutes were a nightmare for Upperchurch as Loughmore hit four unanswered points before John McGrath netted off a Liam McGrath delivery in the 14th minute and they then added a further five points without reply for a 2-11 to 0-5 lead.
Loughmore were playing at a level well above the Upperchurch boys and although the 'Church did their best to hang in there, with the sides sharing eight points before the break, Loughmore were cruising when facing into the second half with a 2-15 to 0-9 advantage.
It was going to take something special if Upperchurch were to redeem this situation. Padraig Greene gave them hope with four points in six minutes at the start of the second half, but just when they were getting up a head of steam Noel McGrath set up brother John for a great goal which effectively ended the contest.
In keeping with their tradition Upperchurch did not throw in the towel, but during the remainder of the game Loughmore still out-pointed their rivals by nine points to five.
On this form, Loughmore will be many people’s fancies for Dan Breen honours. They have all of the credentials and they appear to be in a rich vein of confidence with their top men delivering the goods for them. They have an outstanding half-back line with John Ryan, Brian McGrath and John Meagher defending confidently. Noel McGrath roams all over the field - his intelligent deliveries and his point-taking ability are a huge benefit to the side. Lorcan Egan, Evan Sweeney, John McGrath and their colleagues are also right on their game at the moment.
Upperchruch-Drombane now look to the Mid championship for a life-line and it remains to be seen how this drubbing effects them as they face up to Sarsfields in the Mid quarter-finals next week-end. In many ways this was a freakish result. Things went wrong for Upperchurch during a ten-minute spell and they were on the back foot from there on. The Sarsfields challenge is the ideal opportunity for them to redeem themselves. Very few of their players will want to remember this game, but Dean Carew, James Barry, Colm Ryan, Paul Ryan and their top performer Padraig Greene are to be lauded for their efforts to stem the tide.
Loughmore-Castleiney: David Kennedy, Lorcan Egan, Joseph Hennessy, Willie Eviston, John Ryan, Brian McGrath, John Meagher (0-1), Tomas McGrath (0-3), Ciaran McGrath, Aidan McGrath (0-3), Liam Treacy (0-1), John McGrath (2-3), Liam McGrath (1-3, 0-2 frees), Evan Sweeney (0-4), Noel McGrath (0-7, 0-2 frees). Subs: Joey Nyland for Ryan (45th), Anthony Ryan for J McGrath (52mins), Eoghan Ryan for Treacy (55th), Peter Nyland for L McGrath (56th).
Upperchurch-Drombane: Ciaran Shortt, Ger Grant, Matt Ryan, Dean Carew, John Ryan, James Barry (0-1), Colm Ryan, Gavin Ryan, Michael Lee (0-1), Pat Shortt, Jack Butler, Paul Ryan (0-3), Padraig Greene (0-11, 0-6 frees), Paul Shanahan (0-1), Loughlin Ryan. Subs: Colm Stapleton for L Ryan (20th), Diarmuid Grant (0-1) for P Shortt (HT), Keith Ryan and Niall Grant for Lee and Shanahan (42nd).
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Knockavilla Kickhams).