The County Senior Hurling Championship - 2009
The Dan Breen Cup
Thurles Sarsfields won their thirtieth county senior hurling title when they defeated Drom Inch by 0-14 to 0-5 in the final at Semple Stadium on October 18. Drom Inch, who were appearing in their third final, suffered their third defeat since 2005
It was expected to be a great final, with two Mid teams contesting it. Thurles Sarsfields may have been slight favourites, some of the thinking behind it based on their superior fire power. On the other hand Drom Inch were given a chance based mainly on their impressive defeat of Toomevara in the semi-final. As well it was their third final so any first-time nerves should be absent.It was expected to be a good game with free-flowing play and a feast of scores.
In stead it was one of the worst finals for years, a game that never sprang to life. Drom Inch were dreadful and Thurles Sarsfields not much better. Most of the players, bar Padraic Maher and Michael Cahill, seem to have been inhibited by the occasion. Sarsfields adopted the tactic of a hectic workrate that closed down the opposition and gave them neither time not space to hurl at ease. This was exemplified in the play of Michael Cahill, who stuck to Seamus Callanan like a leech and prevented him from performing. Since Callanan was the main hope on which a Drom Inch victory rested, preventing him from playing was the greatest contribution to a Sarsfields victory. On this basis Cahill probably deserved the Man of the Match, doing more than anyone on the field to prevent Drom winning.
At the end of the day the quality of the game didn't make a bit of difference to the Sarsfields players. Whereas playing the game and performing well may be the noble ideal, winning is why players go out to play and in the vast number of cases it doesn't make much difference to them whether it was pretty or not.
Winning captain Johnny Enright, touched on these matters in his speech afterwards. He had no argument about it being a poor final, but there was no apology either.
He said: "It was, but I still felt our work-rate was phenomenal, we closed them down. We missed chances, they missed chances, but it’s all about getting that cup and taking the next step forward. We lost enough good finals – I remember one that finished 3-19 to 3-16, played great and lost. You win whatever way you can, and I thought our attitude and our work-rate was fantastic today. We felt if we could match them on work-rate we had the hurlers to come through, and that’s how it turned out. This one was huge for Thurles; everyone was talking about Drom & Inch having lost in 05 and 07, no title won yet, but we lost six finals this decade, four-in-a-row early on and then last year again, so this was as important to us as it was to them, though I know the pain they’re feeling now."
Similar Format as in 2008
The format of the county senior hurling championship remained essentially the same in 2009 as it had been in 2008. It was divided into two competitions, the Dan Breen Cup and the Seamus Ó Riain Cup. All teams that made it to the divisional semi-finals qualifed for the former while all the remaining teams took part in the latter competition.
There was a bit of variation on 2008 with thirty rather than twenty-nine teams taking part, as 2008 intermediate champions, Templederry Kenyons, joined the senior ranks. Under the new structures brought in in 2008 any club had the right to enter the senior hurling championship. With the intermediate winners advancing to senior ranks every year there may come a day when there won't any longer be an intermediate grade! On the other hand any senior team had the right to be relegated intermediate if it felt it wasn't strong enough to be in senior ranks. As of yet there are no takers of this option.
Another change from 2008 was the granting of entry to the Dan Breen Cup to the finalists of the Ó Riain Cup. This was done in order to give greater stature to the Ó Riain Cup even though there was a belief in many quarters that the competition had proven itself in 2008 and Carrick Swans' success and the euphoria it generated had established the competition as capable of standing by itself, without the prop of qualification to the Dan Breen Cup.
As a result of this change it was necessary to find a way to bring the two Ó Riain Cup finalists into the Dan Breen Cup. In 2008 the eight beaten divisional semi-finalists played the eight divisional finalists in the first round of the Dan Breen Cup. The change made in 2009, in order to allow the entry of the Ó Riain finalists, was to give recognition to the divisional winners by excluding them from rounds 1 and 2 of the Dan Breen Cup. Round 1 therefore brought together the eight beaten divisional semi-finalists and the four beaten finalists in a playoff of six games. The six winners were joined by the two Ó Riain Cup finalists in Round 2 to produce four winners. The four winners played the four division winners in Round 3 to produce the semi-finalists.
As stated above thirty teams in all participated in the senior hurling championship 11 from the North, 8 from the Mid, 6 from the West and 5 from the South. The fourteen teams who didn't qualify for the divisional semi-finals entered the Ó Riain Cup.
The first round of the Dan Breen Cup was played on the weekend of the 12/13 September. Two games were played at Boherlahan on September 12 and resulted in victories for the two North teams over two from the South. Portroe defeated Ballybacon-Grange by 3-13 to 0-19 and Toomevara defeated Carrick Swans by 3-20 to 1-10.
Four games were played on September 13, two at Templemore and two at Cashel. At Templemore Upperchurch-Drombane defeated Cappawhite by 2-18 to 0-17, and Borrisoleigh defeated neighbours and rivals, Loughmore-Castleiney by 1-20 to 0-14. At Cashel, Killenaule proved too good for Golden-Kilfeacle on a scoreline of 1-21 to 0-11. while Thurles Sarsfields defeated Kickhams by 0-18 to 1-8.
The six winners joined the finalists in the Ó Riain Cup, Kilruane MacDonaghs and Lorrha, for the second round and this produced four games. Two of these were played at Templemore on September 19. Upperchurch-Drombane defeated Portroe by 1-16 to 0-11, and Toomevara overcame Killenaule by 4-16 to 1-14. The other two games were played on September 20. At Dolla Thurles Sarsfields defeated Kilruane MacDonaghs by 2-22 to 1-10, and Borrisoleigh defeated Lorrha by 2-16 to 1-13 at Nenagh.
All was now set for the quarter-finals in which the winners of round two played the four divisional champions. All the divisional finals were played on August 23. In the Mid final at Holycross Drom-Inch retained their title when they weathered a great challenge from Upperchurch-Drombane, who were appearing in their first ever senior final, to win by 2-11 to 0-14 in one of the best finals of recent times.
There was also a first in the North final at Nenagh where Portroe were playing in their first North senior final. There was no dream ending for them as Nenagh Éire Óg bridged and eight-year gap to take the title comfortably on a scoreline of 2-24 to 2-12.
In the South final at Kilsheelan, Killenaule were dreaming of a third-in-a-row but had victory snatched from them in the final minute when Mullinahone sub, Donal Cody, sent over the bar for the winning point on a scorline of 1-17 to 1-16.
In the West final at Golden Clonoulty-Rossmore completed a hat-trick of titles, when they defeated Cappawhite by 2-11 to 0-12 in a game that appeared to be going Cappa's way at the interval, when they led by ten points to four.
Only one divisional champion came through the quarter-finals, which were played at Semple Stadium on the weekend of September 26/27. On the 26th Thurles Sarsfields defeated Nenagh by 1-18 to 0-18, chiefly through the good marksmanship of Pa Bourke, who hit ten points, six from play. Nenagh Éire Óg had the better of the exchanges in the first half, leading by 0-10 to 0-5 at the interval and looked likely to win, but Thurles were the superior outfit in the second-half.
Drom Inch were the only divisional champions to make it through to the semi-finals. It didn't look likely after forty-five minutes when their opponents and near neighbours, Borrisoleigh, led by 0-15 to 1-9 and looked poised for victory. But Drom Inch levelled with a goal soon after and Seamus Callanan's ability to get points when they mattered, helped them on to a 2-15 to 0-19 victory.
Toomevara proved too good for Clonoulty-Rossmore in their quarter-final. In a classy display they led by 1-10 to 1-5 at the interval, went further ahead on the resumption, were hauled back to level following a couple of goals by Clonoulty, but then reeled off some fantastic points to win comfortably by 1-24 to 4-8.
Upperchurch-Drombane made no mistake when they defeated Mullinahone by 3-23 to 3-17 to qualify for their first senior semi-final in history. It did take extra time after the sides finished 3-12 to 2-15 in normal time but Upperchurch came on strongly in the second period of extra time to run out deserved six-point winners.
The county semi-finals were played as a double-header at Semple Stadium on October 3. Drom-Inch drew the county champions, Toomevara, and went into the game as underdogs, on the basis of the brilliance shown by the North side the previous Sunday. However, the mid champions, the only divisional champions still in contention, proved themselves powerful contenders for ultimate honours by taking the scalp of the Greyhounds.
They led by 2 points at the interval, 0-10 to 1-5 and put in a great performance in the second-half to keep the county champions at bay. They fully deserved their 4-point victory on a scoreline of 0-19 to 1-12. The major contributor to the victory, as he was the previous Sunday, was Seamus Callanan, who contributed twelve points of the total, five of them from play.
The second semi-final was less gripping as Thurles Sarsfields showed too much class for Upperchurch-Drombane, who had shocked them in the Mid semi-final. Sarsfields led by 1-7 to 0-4 at the interval and were well ahead by 2-17 to 0-10 at the final whistle. Pa Bourke, with nine points, played a leading role for the winners..
And so it was on to the final at Semple Stadium on October 18, 2009. A crowd of close to 10,000 turned up for the occasion. The day was fine but dull and there was an expectation in the air that this might be a special final, because of the number of talented players on the field.
The tension between the sides broke out in a bit of argy-bargy between two of the centrefield players even before the ball was thrown in. And, eventually the game was on its way.
It never really took off. Drom never got moving. By the twelfth minute Sarsfields were 5 points to nil in front. Drom got their first score in the fourteenth minute. They made something of a fightback in the second quarter if you could term three points a fightback, but Thurles had four themselves to lead by 0-9 to 0-3 at the interval.
The second half brought no great change. The sides shared two points in a very poor third quarter and another two over the next ten minutes. Ger 'Redser' O'Grady, whose year had been dogged by injury, came off the bench in the closing stages to grab two great points for Sarsfields and give a lift to a very flat game.
Thurles finished nine points to the good. They had two stars in Padraic Maher and Michael Cahill, while Johnny Enright, Pa Bourke and Denis Maher deserve mention. It was a game that Drom Inch will want to forget as there wasn't a single memory from it that they will want to remember.
Thurles Sarsfields: Patrick McCormack, Kevin O'Gorman, Padraic Maher, Barry O'Dwyer, Liam Cahill, Michael Cahill, Stephen Lillis, Alan Kennedy, Michael Gleeson (0-1), Pa Bourke (0-4), Shane Ryan, Denis Maher (0-1), Richie Ruth (0-1), Lar Corbett, Johnny Enright (capt.), 0-5. Subs: David Kennedy for Shane Ryan, Ger O'Grady (0-2) for Richie Ruth, John Lalor for Liam Cahill, David O'Dwyer for Alan Kennedy, Michael Collins for Kevin O'Gorman. Also: Bill McCormack, Colm Rourke, John Maher, Patrick Leahy, Eoin Russell, Tommy Collins, Stephen Mason, Wayne Cully, Jim Corbett, Tony Ruth, Garry Mernagh, John Connors.
Drom Inch: Damien Young, Matin Butler, Edward Costello, Michael Costello, Donncha Kennedy, Paul Stapleton, Micheál Butler, James Woodlock (capt.), Seamus Butler, Eric Woodlock, Seamus Callanan (0-2), John Kennedy (0-1), David Butler, Michael Long, Johnny Ryan (0-2). Subs; Eamonn Buckey for Paul Stapleton, Declan Ryan for Michael Long, Matthew Ryan for Eric Woodlock, David Collins for Declan Ryan, James Ryan for James Woodlock. Also: Ciarán Hassett, Liam Ryan, Paddy Kennedy, John Lillis, Shane Delaney, Paul Collins, Philip Looby, Enda Walsh, Michael Everard, Tom Cantwell, Padraig Butler, Matthew McGrath, Paul Connors, Brian Costello, Kevin Butler, Paul Ryan.
Man of the Match Award: Padraic Maher.
Referee: Sean Bradshaw (Kickhams).
Attendance: Approx. 10,000
Country Senior Hurling Championship
12/09/2009 Boherlahan Portroe 3.13 Ballybacon G 0.19 John Ryan Bob
12/09/2009 Boherlahan Toomevara 3.20 Carrick Swans 1.10 Richie Barry
13/09/2009 Templemore Upperchurch D 2.18 Cappawhite 0.17 Ger Fitzpatrick
13/09/2009 Templemore Borrisoleigh 1.20 Loughmore C 0.14 Noel Cosgrave
13/09/2009 Cashel Killenaule 1.21 Golden Kilfeacle 0.11 John Cleary
13/09/2009 Cashel Thurles Sarsfields 0.18 Knockavilla K 1.08 Seamus Roche
19/09/2009 Templemore Upperchurch D 1.16 Portroe 0.11 Keith Delahunty
19/09/2009 Templemore Toomevara 4.16 Killenaule 1.14 Johnny Ryan
20/09/2009 Dolla Thurles Sarsfields 2.22 Kilruane MacD 1.10 Paddy Russell
20/09/2009 Nenagh Borrisileigh 2.16 Lorrha Dorrha 1.13 Seamus Roche
26/09/2009 S Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 1.18 Nenagh Eire Óg 0.18 Seamus Roche
26/09/2009 S Stadium Upperchurch D 3.23 Mullinahone 3.17 Tommy Ryan AET
27/09/2009 S Stadium Drom & Inch 2.15 Borrisoleigh 0.19 Sean Bradshaw
27/09/2009 S Stadium Toomevara 1.24 Clonoulty Rossmore 4.08 Noel Cosgrave
04/10/2009 S Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 2.17 Upperchurch D 0.10 John Cleary
04/10/2009 S Stadium Drom & Inch 0.19 Toomevara 1.12 Seamus Roche
18/10/2009 S Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 0.14 Drom & Inch 0.05 Sean Bradshaw
Seamus O Riain Cup
As stated above all teams that failed to make their divisional semi-finals qualified for the Seamus Ó Riain Cup, fourteen in all. Two teams, Moycarkey-Borris and Kilruane MacDonaghs, got byes to the quarter-finals, while the remaining twelve played first round games. These games were played earlier than in 2008 because of the need to have the finalsits ready to join the Dan Breen Cup in the third round.
Five games in the first round of the Ó Riain Cup were played on the weekend of July 18/19. Boherlahan-Dualla defeated Ballingarry by 1-16 to 0-10 at Cashel on the 18th. Two games were played at Templemore on the 19th. Moneygall defeated Holycross-Ballycahill by 1-16 to 2-8 and Lorrha defeated Cashel King Cormacs by 3-17 to 1-9. The remaining two games were played on the same day. At Nenagh Roscrea defeated Burgess by 1-10 to 1-7 and at the Ragg J. K. Brackens defeated Templederry Kenyons by 0-17 to 1-12.
The final game in the first round was played at Boherlahan on July 26 when Kildangan defeated Eire Óg by 1-15 to 2-9.
Three weeks separated the quarter-finals. Two games were played on August 1 and were won by 1-point margins. At Toomevara Roscrea defeated Moneygall by 4-8 to 1-16 and Kilruane-MacDonaghs defeated Moycarkey-Borris by 1-13 to 1-12 at Templemore.
The remaining two quarter-finals were played on August 22. Kildangan defeated J. K. Brackens by 1-12 to 0-12 at Toomevara, and Lorrha defeated Boherlahan-Dualla by 0-26 to 2-4 at Moneygall.
The stage was now set for the semi-finals, which were played on the weekend of September 12/13. At Toomevara Kilruane-MacDonaghs had little difficulty in disposing of Roscrea by 3-14 to 1-8. Three first-half goals gave Kilruane a 3-9 to 0-6 lead at the break and though Roscrea fought back well in the second-half they found it difficult to get through the stout defending of Seamus Hennessy at centre-back.
There was a lot of tension in the second semi-final between Lorrha and Kildangan over a refusal by Kildangan to accede to a Lorrha request to put back the starting time in order to allow three of the panel to return from a family wedding in Spain. As it was they returned early and missed the wedding. Lorrha had the better of the exchanges in the first half and led by 1-8 to 0-5 at the break. Lorrha went further ahead in the third quarter but Kildangan fought back and only three points separated the sides at the final whistle, Lorrha 1-16 Kildangan 0-16.
It was a case of second time lucky for Kilruane-MacDonaghs when they defeated Lorrha by 1-21 to 0-17 in the final of the Ó Riain Cup, which was played ar Borrisokane on October 11. In the previous year's final they lost to Carrick Swan. However, it was Lorrha who got off to the better start and were six points clear after ten minutes but some poor marking allowed Kilruane back into the game and they led by 1-10 to 0-11 at the interval. Kilruane confirmed their superiority in the second half, when Lorrha could only score six points. Many good point opportunities were wasted as players tried for goals. Kilruane thoroughly deserved their seven-point victory after a very impressive display.
Kilruane MacDonaghs: David Reddan, Brian Gaynor, Stephen Murphy, Gavin McAvinchy, Liam Gibson, Seamus Hennessy (capt.),0-1, Niall O'Meara (0-1), Mark O'Leary (0-2), Ray Moloughney (0-4), Kevin Quinlan (0-2), Brian O'Meara (0-6), Jonathon Cahill, Darren Killackey (0-1), Shane Quinlan (0-2). Subs: Diarmuid Cahill for Jonathon Cahill, Declan Barrett for Darren Killackey,, Denis Cahill for Shane Quinlan.
Lorrha: Kevin Hough, Graham Houlihan, Rory Coen, Tadhg Nevin, Ciaran Hough, Stephen Hogan, Kevin Maher, Patrick Maher, Noel Hogan (capt.) 0-6, Michael Cleary (0-1), Ronan O'Meara (0-6), William Maher (0-2), Cian Hogan, Trevor Hogan, Ciaran Duggan (0-2). Subs: William Hough for Trevor Hogan, Donal Kennedy for Stephen Hogan.
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Boherlahan-Dualla).
Seamus O'Rian Cup
18/07/2009 Cashel Boherlahan Dualla 1.16 Ballingarry 0.10 Richie Barry
19/07/2009 Templemore Moneygall 2.18 Holycross Ballycahill 1.16 Phil Ryan
19/07/2009 Templemore Lorrha Dorrha 3.17 Cashel King Cormacs 1.09 Tom McGrath
19/07/2009 Nenagh Roscrea 1.10 Burgess 1.07 Michael Cahill
19/07/2009 The Ragg JK Brackens 0.17 Templederry K 1.12 Keith Delahunty
26/07/2009 Boherlahan Kildangan 1.15 Eire Óg Anacarty 2.09 Martin Ryan
01/08/2009 Toomevara Moneygall 1.16 Roscrea 4.08 Willie Clohessy
01/08/2009 Templemore Kilruane MacD 1.13 Moycarkey Borris 1.12 Seamus Roche
22/08/2009 Toomevara Kildangan 1.12 JK Brackens 0.12 Seamus Roche
22/08/2009 Moneygall Lorrha D 0.26 Boherlahan Dualla 2.04 Paddy Russell
12/09/2009 Toomevara Kilruane MacD 3.14 Roscrea 1.08 Sean Bradshaw
13/09/2009 Nenagh Lorrha 1.17 Kildangan 0.16 Johnny Ryan
11/10/2009 Borrisokane Kilruane MacD 1.22 Lorrha Dorrha 0.17 Johnny Ryan
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2010, pp. 41-47