10 Aug 2022

Tipperary SHC: Upperchurch overcome Mullinahone to put themselves in pole position

Upperchurch overcome Mullinahone to put themselves in pole position

Jack Shelly (Mullinahone) tries to get past Colm Ryan (Upperchurch) in Friday's County SHC game played at Boherlahan. Pic: Michael Boland

FBD Insurance Tipperary County Hurling Championship Group 3 Round 2


Upperchurch/Drombane put themselves in pole position for a quarter-final spot in this year’s Dan Breen Cup competition with victory over Mullinahone at Boherlahan on Friday evening. Never led over the entire game, this impressive trap-to-line win for the Mid Tipperary side, added to their opening day win over Holycross/Ballycahill, sees them unbeaten atop Group 3 with a very healthy +17 difference after two games.

Upperchurch simply had too much hurling for the South division’s only representatives at this grade, and made every post a winning one, leading by double scores 0-14 to 0-7 at the interval. Two quick points within two minutes of the restart stretched their advantage to nine points and when their goalkeeper, Ciaran Shortt, superbly saved a Jack Shelly penalty four minutes into the second half there was to be no rallying comeback from the CJK Kickhams side.

The point-scoring ability of the Liam Dunphy managed Upperchurch was key, with seven players scoring from play, in addition to the excellent long-range free-taking of centre-back Gavin Ryan. On the other hand, all that a disappointing Mullinahone team could muster were five points from play over the 60+ minutes, the other nine scores coming from placed balls.

In the final round of games Upperchurch will meet Toomevara, while Mullinahone, who drew with 'The Greyhounds' the first day, face an all-important tussle with Holycross.

Upperchurch were quickly into their stride on Friday evening and by the 12th minute had opened up an 0-5 to 0-3 lead. Three points from play from the Shanahan brothers Luke (2) and Paul, were bookended by an opening Paudie Greene free and a 65 from the impressive Gavin Ryan. In that early spell two Jack Shelly frees came either side of a Mikey O’Shea point - the county footballer the only real threat upfront for the Southerners.

All evening long the Midmen displayed an ability to take their scores easier and two fine points from Aaron Ryan and Luke Shanahan made it 0-7 to 0-3 to 'The Church' on the quarter-hour mark.

Four of the next six scores were from placed balls. Jack Shelly pointed a free for Mullinahone before Upperchurch responded with five unanswered points. The long-range accuracy with frees from Gavin Ryan punished Mullinahone three times, his brother Keith chipping in with a huge point from play from his own 65 and Aaron Ryan also pointing while at full speed from 45 metres out. 

Mikey O'Shea (Mullinahone) under pressure from three Upperchurch players - Mikey Lavery, Ger Grant and Keith Ryan - in Friday evening's Group 3 game played at Boherlahan. Pic: Michael Boland

By the 22nd minute Upperchurch were eight points up, before a point from Colin Shelly, Mullinahone’s first in eight minutes, interrupted the one-way traffic. In the closing minutes of the opening half Luke Shanahan tagged on two further excellent points from play, the CJK replying with a Jack Shelly free, and the final score of the half from Micheál Dunne.

Down by 0-14 to 0-7 at the break, Mullinahone would have a huge challenge ahead to retrieve anything from this encounter.

The fast Upperchurch start, and that penalty save, within four minutes of resumption, made that challenge all the greater for Sean O’Regan’s team. The penalty came when the referee adjudged Martin Kehoe was being impeded in his efforts to get to an Alan Curran delivery. However, Shortt saved Shelly's effort and Mullinahone were denied the huge boost they badly needed.

Mikey O’Shea managed to pull a point back, but the gap was out to all of 10 points by the 38th minute following a free from Paudie Greene and an excellent sideline cut from the Church’s Paul Ryan from 35 metres.

Mullinahone threw on a double substitution in the 40th minute with Eoin Kelly and Enda Keane introduced, and CJK would hold their own over the last 20 minutes without ever threatening to make inroads into that double-digit advantage. Eoin Kelly took over the placed ball duty and tagged on four frees and a 65, their only point from play coming in the 12th minute of the second period from Jack Shelly from half-way.

Hurling well within themselves, Upperchurch countered everything that Mullinahone asked of them down the stretch and added five points over the closing stages from Aaron Ryan, Luke Shanahan (his fifth of the evening), Paudie Greene (2) and another monster of a free from his own D from Gavin Ryan. At the final whistle they were fully deserving and unflattered by their nine points winning margin.

Business-like from the off, Upperchurch smothered Mullinahone with an intensity that wasn’t matched. There was much to admire in the performances throughout the field, Mikey Lavery and Matt Ryan in the full-back line, Gavin Ryan was superb at centre-back with Aaron Ryan and Diarmaid Grant were on top in the centre. Upfront Luke Shanahan was deadly accurate, but with seven contributing to the scoreboard from play, Upperchuch will be happy enough with their overall performance.

Mullinahone will have to dust themselves down now for their crucial game with Holycross. They played second fiddle for most of this game but didn’t help themselves with some poor wayward shooting in the second half. Kevin Walzer, Paul Curran, Daire O’Brien and Eoin Fennelly were worked hard in defence, Alan Curran was involved in a lot around the middle of the park, but upfront they were getting little change from a solid Upperchurch defensive unit, with Mikey O’Shea the only one who looked like causing concern on the night.

PS: While this game was in play at Boherlahan, unknown to all in attendance, a tragedy was unfolding at the same time up the road at Semple Stadium in Thurles. Regardless of results, everyone was at a huge loss to later hear of the death of Dillon Quirke (Clonoulty/Rossmore and Tipperary). Sincere sympathy to his parents, family and club at this unimaginably sad time for them. May he rest in peace.

Upperchurch/Drombane's Aaron Ryan comes under pressure from Martin Kehoe (Mullinahone) in Friday evening's Dan Breen Cup game played at Boherlahan. Pic: Michael Boland.

Upperchurch/Drombane: Ciaran Shortt, Mikey Lavery, Matt Ryan, Ger Grant (capt), Keith Ryan (0-1), Gavin Ryan (0-6, 0-4F, 0-1x65), Ailbe O’Donoghue, Diarmaid Grant (0-1), Aaron Ryan (0-3), Paul Ryan (0-1), Colm Ryan (0-1), Paul Shanahan (0-1), Luke Shanahan (0-5), Paudie Greene (0-4, 0-2F), Jack Butler.

Subs: Niall Grant for K. Ryan (52 minutes); Sean Ryan for C. Ryan (60+2).

CJK, Mullinahone: Alan Walsh, Kevin Walzer, Paul Curran, Colin Shelly (0-1), Daire O’Brien (capt), Eoin Fennelly, Conor Whelan, Alan Curran, Sean Curran, Kevin Bolger, Micheál Dunne (0-1), Mikey O’Shea (0-2), Martin Kehoe, Jack Shelly (0-5, 0-4F), Eoin O’Dwyer.

Subs: Conor O’Brien for Bolger (24 minutes); Enda Keane for Whelan (40); Eoin Kelly (0-5, 0-4F, 0-1x65) for Dunne (40); Graham Horgan for O’Dwyer (51); Dunne for Kehoe (60).

Referee: Conor Doyle (Silvermines).

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