COUNTY TIPPERARY SENIOR FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP GROUP 4 ROUND 3
UPPERCHURCH/DROMBANE 1-6 EIRE OG, ANNACARTY/DONOHILL 0-7
In a do-or-die county senior football championship game at Dundrum this evening (Wednesday) it was Mid Tipperary side,Upperchurch/Drombane, courtesy of a late-late penalty from Paul Shanahan, who booked their place in this year’s county quarter-finals.
With Moyle Rovers already guaranteed top spot in Group 4, effectively this evening’s combatants were playing for the other last-eight place available, while elimination would be the lot of the losers. And for most of this encounter it seemed the West Tipperary side just about had the measure of their opponents. That was until the 58th minute when the game’s deciding moment arrived.
At that stage Eire Og were leading by a point when Upperchurch turned defence into attack with a move begun in the backline by Keith Ryan who continued to inter-pass up the left wing before attempting an equalising kick from 30 metres. The ball fell short in the goalmouth where Conor Fahey got a touch on it only to see it rebound off the crossbar. And as Fahey attempted a second bite of the cherry he was fouled by the goalkeeper, Michael Ryan, for the penalty. Up stepped Paul Shanahan to hold his nerve and place his shot low to the left beyond of Darragh Mooney who had stepped in goal for the spot kick.
It returned a lead to the John Ryan managed team which they hadn’t held since the third minute of the game. From there to the finish though Eire Og would never get a chance to save their season with the green flag they needed and so bowed out disappointingly from this year’s championship.
As games go this wasn’t a great spectacle with two somewhat tired and depleted teams in action again after tough senior hurling games last weekend. But what mattered most of all on this occasion wasn’t the performance itself but the result and Upperchurch had the satisfaction of advancing to another day at least.
They opened the scoring in the third minute with a 30 metre point from Colm Stapleton and held that advantage until Eire Og eventually got on the scoreboard in the 13th minute with a Darragh Mooney free, won by Kevin Fox.
Three minutes later a slick move involving Paul Downey and Brian Fox put Eoin Kennedy through and he fisted the lead point for Eire Og, shipping a strong challenge as he did so.
In the 20th minute the sides were all square again at 0-2 each when Paul Shanahan pointed a 45 minute free for the Black and Amber.
In a slow game full of hand passes and lateral cross-the-field movements there was little happening on the scoreboard until just before the break when Eire Og put on a spurt of three points in five minutes.
A super point from Donal O’Dwyer – one of his side’s hardest working all evening – when he ran through the middle to kick a white flag from 40 metres was quickly followed by another fine effort from Tom Fox after lead-up play by Paul Downey and Michael Bradshaw.
A Dinny Crosse free in the 32nd minute pushed Eire Og 0-5 to 0-2 clear before - with the last kick of the first half - Paul Shanahan reduced the margin to two points with a free from a tight angle.
If the first half was slow, the second half seemed even slower.
We had to wait until 10 minutes in for the first point, scored by Eire Og’s Paul Downey after some hard graft around the middle of the field by Eoin Bradshaw. Two minutes later a free from Paul Shanahan, after he was fouled himself, kept the margin at two points.
In the 47th minute Eire Og went three to the good with perhaps the best move of the game. Kevin Fox switched the play from one side of the field to the other with a long pass to Darragh Mooney who put David Fox, just on the field, free to make it 0-7 to 0-4. But to their cost, with over another 15 minutes of actual play to follow, the Paul Sexton managed side would not score again.
Doggedly Upperchurch refused to accept second best and quickly had the margin once more back to two points when Colm Stapleton had his second point of the night after a good pass from Loughlin Ryan. Indeed Stapleton's brace were his side's only scores from play in the 60+ minutes.
Four minutes from time Upperchurch reduced the deficit to a single point as they went wave after wave at the Annacarty defence. An under-pressure rearguard coughed up another free and Paul Shanahan pointed.
Which all led to the game-winning penalty goal, initiated by Keith Ryan’s run and hard work, and finished by man-of-the-match Paul Shanahan.
TEAMS AND SCORERS:
Upperchurch/Drombane: Paul Ryan, Gerard Grant, Matt Ryan, Dean Carew, Colm Ryan, Gavin Ryan, John Ryan, Paul Shanahan (1-4, 0-4F, 1-0 pen), Diarmuid Grant, Keith Ryan, Padraig Greene, James Barry, Jack Butler, Colm Stapleton (0-2), Niall Grant.
Subs: Loughlin Ryan for D. Grant (46 minute); and Conor Fahey for N. Grant (47)
Eire Og, Annacarty/Donohill: Michael Ryan, Diarmuid Ryan, Kevin Fox, Michael O’Brien, Michael Bradshaw, Brian Fox, Paul Devlin, Tom Fox (0-1), Eoin Kennedy (0-1), Richard O’Doherty, Donal O’Dwyer (0-1), Eoin Bradshaw, Dinny Crosse (0-1F), Darragh Mooney (0-2F), Paul Downey (0-1).
Subs: David Fox (0-1) for Kennedy (inj., 36 minute); Liam Og O’Dwyer for Bradshaw (53).
Referee: Michael Kennedy (Newcastle).