This Centenary Agri Mid Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship quarter-final win for Upperchurch-Drombane over Thurles Sarsfields will raise eyebrows in many quarters, but the men from The Church full deserved to go through to the semi-finals following a memorable win at The Ragg on Sunday.
Centenary Agri Mid Tipperary Senior
Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Upperchurch-Drombane 1-20 Thurles Sarsfields 1-19
Upperchurch had suffered a severe drubbing at the hands of Loughmore-Castleiney in their last county championship outing, but they put that upset behind them and in a contest that ebbed and flowed in entertaining fashion they had enough self-belief to hold out as Sarsfields poured forward in search of levelling scores during a hectic closing period.
Pádraig Greene, who finished with a personal tally of fourteen points (eleven from frees), was the key figure for Upperchurch and he shot eight of their ten points in a closely contested first half which ended with the sides all square (0-10 each).
Aidan McCormack had three points for Sarsfields (two from placed balls) and Upperchurch had goalie Ciarán Shortt to thank for a smart save which denied Conor Lanigan a Thurles goal in the 26th minute.
Significantly, Sarsfields had the help of a fresh breeze in the first half so the advantage lay with Upperchurch at the break.
BADLY HIT WITH INJURIES
Sarsfields have been badly it with injuries this year with five of their regulars side-lined on Sunday, but Pa Bourke came on for the second half to try to add scoring power to an under-performing attack.
They were 0-12 to 0-11 ahead when the decisive score of the game came: Gavin Ryan punished an error off a short puck-out with an Upperchurch goal which helped his side into a marginal lead that Upperchurch never subsequently relinquished.
With Greene unerring from placed balls and Paul Shanahan also contributing well Upperchurch were 1-18 to 0-18 to the good after sixty minutes.
Ciarán Shortt again came to their rescue to deny Paul Maher a levelling goal for Sarsfields and Shanahan quickly extended their advantage to four points. Aidan McCormack opted for a point from a Sarsfields free in injury time to which Pádraig Green again replied.
Sarsfields had Pádraic Maher operating in attack for the closing stages and Pa Bourke set him up for a goal after sixty-four minutes, but time ran out and an end was brought to Thurles Sarsfields’ hurling year.
It was Upperchurch-Drombane’s day and with other results also raising eyebrows they will fancy their chances of winning a first senior Mid title.
Pádraig Greene was their headline act; his coolness and accuracy from placed balls being a huge factor for them. Ciarán Shortt in goal was also a big contributor to the win with Paul Shanahan, John Ryan, James Barry and John Ryan others to catch the eye.
Sarsfields’ downward slide since following their four in-a-row of county titles (1914-17) continued with what has been their poorest year for some time.
Injuries to key players was a big factor with Michael Cahill, Billy McCarthy, Stephen Maher, Larry Corbett, Mossy McCormack and Pa Bourke all absent from their line-up. And, their situation was complicated by their competing in the senior B championships also which involved much juggling of resources.
The Thurles Sarsfields level of performance this year simply did not come up to scratch despite the best efforts of the Maher brothers, Pádraic and Ronan, Denis Maher, Stephen Lillis, Conor Lanigan and Aidan McCormack.
Upperchurch-Drombane: Ciarán Shortt, Gerard Grant, Matt Ryan, Dean Carew, John Ryan, James Barry, Colm Ryan, Gavin Ryan (1-0), Diarmuid Grant (0-1), Pádraig Greene (0-14, 0-11 frees), Jack Butler, Paul Shanahan (0-3), Keith Ryan, Pat Shortt (0-2), Paul Ryan. Subs: Loughlin Ryan for P Ryan, Michael Lee for Shortt, Niall Grant for K Ryan, Colm Stapleton for D Grant.
Thurles Sarsfields: Patrick McCormack, Cathal Moloney, Stephen Lillis, Rory Dwan, Michael Purcell, Pádraic Maher (1-1), Ronan Maher (0-2), Stephen Cahill, David Corbett, Tommy Doyle (0-2), Aidan McCormack (0-6, 0-4 frees), Denis Maher (0-2), Conor Lanigan, Conor Stakelum (0-2), John Maher. Subs: Pa Bourke (0-1) for J Maher, Paul Maher (0-1) for Stakelum, Pa Dunne for Dwan.
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Boherlahan-Dualla).