An injury time pointed free by Liam McGrath steered holders Loughmore-Castleiney through to the Gleeson Quarries Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship final following a keenly-contested semi-final against Upperchurch-Drombane at Templetuohy on Tuesday, October 15.
Gleeson Quarries Mid Tipperary Senior Football Championship Semi-Final
Loughmore-Castleiney 0-11 Upperchurch-Drombane 0-10
During an exciting last quarter the challengers had come from being five points down to draw level with time-running out. The momentum was with Upperchurch, but seasoned campaigners Loughmore never lost their composure and they got the crucial break in injury time as Brian McGrath was fouled and cousin Liam popped over the winning point.
It was a frustrating end to the year for Upperchurch-Drombane who end up without any silverware despite being very competitive at the top level in both hurling and football. They have never won the Mid senior football crown, but have been in the final three times in recent years and were also in the senior hurling final this year. If any club deserves a break, they surely do.
Loughmore dominated the first half and laid the groundwork for their success. They had five points on the board without reply after fifteen minutes and might also have had a goal in that period, but in an 11th minute sortee Upperchurch three times cleared off their line with a goal looking almost certain.
At the other end, Upperchurch came close to goaling in the 12th minute, but Dean Carew’s effort was saved well by Dominic Brennan in the Loughmore goal. Jack Butler eventually opened Upperchurch’s account in the 28th minute, but Brian and Liam McGrath responded with points before the break at which stage Loughmore were ahead 0-7 to 0-1.
BREEZE AT THEIR BACKS
Upperchurch had the fresh breeze in their backs in the second half and hit the ground running with a brace of Paul Shanahan points inside two minutes. John and Liam McGrath replied for Loughmore who now had John operated around midfield. Dean Grant and Loughlin Ryan points for Upperchurch drew a Liam McGrath response for Loughmore as the game reached the three quarter stage with Loughmore still 0-10 to 0-5 to the good.
Now came a spirited rally from Upperchurch who reeled their opponents in with points by Jack Butler (two), Conor Fahey, Paul Shanahan and, finally, Niall Grant in the 56th minute to tie the game.
The prospect of the champions surrendering their crown was very much on the cards as Upperchurch drove on for a winner. The Loughmore backs were to the wall, but in a counter-attack in injury time Brian McGrath was fouled near goal and Liam McGrath had the composure to pop over what was to be the winning point.
As a warm-up for their county semi-final against Clonmel Commercials on the week-ending Octber 27 Loughmore will be hoping that this encounter will sharpen their footballing skills. It was certainly a serious test of their credentials and while they will have misgivings about some chances wasted, their experience got them over the line.
Liam McGrath took the scoring honours with six points (three from play). John Meagher, John Ryan, Noel McGrath, Cian Hennessy, Joseph Nyland and goalie Dominic Brennan were other key performers. A first half injury to Liam Treacy, however, will be a concern with a county semi-final looming.
Upperchurch’s problem early on was that while they enjoyed reasonable possession they lacked a cutting edge near goal and a one point return for their first half efforts was not good enough. When they got going they showed they can mix it with the best and the challenge for them now is to raise their game another notch to win trophies.
Jack Butler and Paul Shanahan were their key men, but John Ryan, Gavin Ryan, Colm Stapleton, and Michael Lavery also figured prominently.
Loughmore-Castleiney: Dominic Brennan, Lorcan Egan, John Meagher, Tomas McGrath, John Ryan, Ciaran McGrath, Willie Eviston, Noel McGrath, Brian McGrath (0-1), Joseph Nyland, Evan Sweeney, Liam Treacy (0-1), Liam McGrath (0-6, 0-3 frees), John McGrath (0-1), Cian Hennessy (0-2). Subs: Aidan McGrath for Treacy (24th), Joseph Hennessy for Hennessy (52nd).
Upperchurch-Drombane: Paul Ryan, Gerard Grant (0-1), John Ryan, Colm Ryan, Dean Carew, Gavin Ryan, Michael Lavery, Keith Ryan, Paul Shanahan (0-3, 0-2 frees), Padraig Greene, Jack Butler (0-3), James Barry, Conor Fahey (0-1), Colm Stapleton, Louglin Ryan (0-1). Subs: Michael Lee for Stapleton (50th), Niall Grant (0-1) for L Ryan (52nd).
Referee: Tom Loughnane (Gortnahoe-Glengoole).