The 2012 County Senior Hurling Championship
Thurles Sarsfields won their 32nd county senior hurling title at Semple Stadium on October 14 when they defeated Drom-Inch by 1-21 to 2-15 in the final, played before an attendance of 6,937.
In winning the 125th county senior hurling title Sarsfields confirmed their standing as the most successful club in the county and justified their rating as favourites going into the final.
Losers Drom Inch went into the game as defending champions, having won their first title in 2011, but their loss was their fourth final defeat in eight seasons. It was their third loss to Sarsfields at this stage of the championship, having lost previously to them in the 2005 and 2009 finals. Their remaining loss was to Loughmore-Castleiney in the 2007 final.
Drom and Inch trailed by seven points at half-time but their challenge was ignited with a goal by David Butler in the first minute after the resumption and the second half became a gripping encounter during which a draw seemed likely at times. Drom and Inch missed a couple of chances for goals near the end but the more composed Thurles side held out and deserved their three-point victory.
The Senior Hurling Championship
The format for the championship was the same as the previous year. The 32 senior teams in the county played in their respective divisional championships down to semi-final stage. The 16 teams that qualified for the divisional play-offs went straight into the Dan Breen Cup. The remaining 16 teams went into Round 1 or a qualifier for the Dan Breen Cup, with 8 qualifying and the 8 losers going into the Seamus O'Riain Cup. The 4 losers in the first round of the O'Riain went into the relegation competition.
The 8 winners of Round 1 of the Dan Breen Cup joined the 8 losing divisional semi-finalists in an open draw with repeat games avoided for Round 2. The 8 winners from Round 2 played off among themselves in Round 3 and the winners joined the four divisional final losers in Round 4. The four winners played the four divisional final winners in Round 5.
The virtue of these arrangements was that divisional achievement was recognised. Beaten divisional finalists came back in Round 4 while the winners came in in Round 5.
Ultimately the whole format was to give as many chances as possible to teams to find their feet and for the best teams to come to the top. The other side of the coin was to give the public 31 games in all, a potential feast for the punters but, in reality, many of them so bad that they gave senior hurling a bad name, and small attendances suggested that supporters regarded many of them as meaningless.
Round 1 was played between June 30 and July 22 with the following teams coming through: Burgess, Kildangan, Lorrha, Moneygall, Roscrea, Templederry, Borrisokane and Kilruane MacDonaghs. In the light of the North division's later failure to have a team in the semi-finals, this was an impressive performance with all seven of their teams qualifying for Round 2
The eight winners joined the beaten divisional semi-finalists in an open draw. These games were played between July 21 and August 21. Again the North were well represented among the winners. The teams were: Lorrha, Templederry. Kildangan, Borrisoleigh, Drom Inch, Cappawhite, Roscrea and Burgess.
The eight winners of Round 2 played off among themselves in Round 3 between August 23 and September 2.
The winners were Borrisoleigh, who defeated Cappawhite, Kildangan, who defeated Templederry, Drom Inch who defeated Burgess and Roscrea, who defeated Lorrha..
In spite of the large number of senior teams, the North were first with their divisional final. Played at Nenagh on July 20, Portroe made history by winning their first senior title, when they defeated no less opponents than Toomevara by 3-16 to 1-19. It was a sensational result and well-deserved. It didn't appear possible at half-time when Portroe trailed by a point on a scoreline of 0-11 to 1-7 in spite of playing with the breeze. However, they came good in the second half, led by 3-15 to 0-16 after fifty-seven minutes and held out for an historic victory in spite of a late Toomevara rally that yielded 1-3. It was a great occasion for the club when captain, Jimmy Creamer, raised the Frank McGrath Cup before the delighted supporters.
Thurles Sarsfields went on the rampage in the Mid final, played at Templemore on July 27 when they obliterated the defending champions, Loughmore-Castleiney, by 7-16 to 2-13. Three goals by Pa Bourke from close-in frees in the first ten minutes of the game were a body blow to Loughmore-Castleiney from which they never recovered. Sarsfields led by 5-7 to 1-5 at the break and went on to win in style by 7-16 to 2-13.
On the same day and at the same time that Sarsfields were offering Loughmore up for sacrifice, Mullinahone retained the South senior hurling championship by 1-17 to 2-9 for Carrick Swans at Clonmel. It was their eleventh title and they were the slicker and sharper team from beginning to end. The winners led by 0-11 to 0-5 at the interval and, while the Swan reduced the deficit to three points soon after the resumption, there was never any doubt as to the better team and Mullinahone well-deserved their 1-17 to 2-9 victory, 1-11 for which was scored by Eoin Kelly.
Unusual for the West final it was the last of the four up for decision and was played at Golden on August 26. Clonoulty-Rossmore made it six-titles-in-a-row when they defeated Eire Óg by 1-22 to 1-11. It was a game that failed to live up to expectations as Clonoulty proved beyond a doubt that they were top dogs in the division and Eire Óg failed to produce the kind of performance that might have challenged the champions.
Round 4 matched the winners of Round 3 with the divisional runners-up and these games were played on the weekend of the 15/16 September. The results saw two of the divisional runners-up survive and two eliminated. Eire Óg surprised a lot of people when they defeated Borrisoleigh by 1-17 to 0-17 at Cashel, which hosted a double header. In the second pairing Drom Inch defeated Carrick Swans by 2-19 to 1-13. The remaining two games were played at Nenagh. Kildangan had a comfortble win over Toomevara by 2-19 to 0-15 and Loughmore-Castleiney eliminated Roscrea by 1-14 to 2-10.
The quarter-finals were played at Semple Stadium on the weekend of September 22/23. Three of the divisional champions were eliminated from the championship over the two days with only Thurles Sarsfields surviving
On Saturday Loughmore-Castleiney defeated Mullinahone by 0-22 to 2-11. Mullinahone started well and led by 2-7 to 0-11 at the interval but the second-half belonged to Loughmore, who outscored their opponents by 11 points to 4. In the second game Clonoulty-Rossmore were completely disappointing and were no match for a dominant Drom-Inch, who won by 2-22 to 0-13 having led by 2-11 to 0-8 at the interval.
On Sunday Thurles Sarsfields confirmed their credentials as favourites to take the title, when they gave an impressive display in defeating Kildangan by 3-22 to 1-12. They led by double scores, 2-12 to 1-6, at the interval. In the second game Eire Óg confirmed their good form of the previous weekend in beating Borrisoleigh when they dominated their game with Portroe to win by 1-15 to 1-10, after leading by 1-9 to 1-2 at the break.
There was a two-week gap to the semi-finals in order to accommodate the replayed minor hurling All-Ireland. The two games were played at Semple Stadium on October 7 with Thurles Sarsfields and Drom Inch emerging as winners.
Thurles Sarsfields' opponents were Eire Óg, who were very much underdogs going into the contest. In a fine first-half performance they kept the favourites in touch and were behind by four points, 1-11 to 0-10, at the interval. They reduced it to three early in the second-half but then they went for twenty-four minutes without a score at the end of which Sarsfields were in front by 2-21 to 0-11. Eire Óg added 1-2 in the remaining minutes, chiefly through the good work of Conor O'Brien, but it was too little too late.
The second semi-final between Drom Inch and Loughmore-Castleiney was a close encounter that went to extra time. A resolute Loughmore pushed the county champions to the limit. Drom-Inch got off to a flying start and were 0-7 to 0-1 at the end of the first quarter. Loughmore came more into the game during the second quarter and were behind by three points, 0-10 to 0-7 at the interval. Loughmore's improvement continued during the second half and they led by 1-12 to 0-13 with nine ninutes to go. It looked as if they were heading in the right direction but a goalkeeping error in the fifty-second minute allowed Seamus Callanan in for a vital goal. Drom Inch went ahead by three points but Loughmore clawed themselves back with vital points and eventually got the equaliser from Eddie Connolly in the sixty-sixth miuute of play for a final score of 1-18 each..
That was the best it got for Loughmore. Four minutes into extra time Liam Treacy was shown a straight red for a tangle with Seamus Callanan. The latter converted the following free and then tipped home a David Butler sideline puck for a goal. Drom led by 2-20 to 1-19 at the interval and there was no doubt about their victory during the second half when they added further scores to win by 2-26 to 1-21.
Thurles Sarsfields were installed as hot favourites to win the final. Fans of Drom Inch gave them a chance if Seamus Callanan and Johnny Ryan delivered top performances. Drom Inch did get off to the better start and led by 0-3 to o-1 after five minutes but Sarsfields hit back with a run of seven unanswered points to lead by 0-8 to 0-3 as Drom went twelve minutes without a score until their best player, Johnny Ryan, scored a point in the seventeenth minute. This started a slight recovery and Drom trailed by four points, 0-11 to 0-7, approaching half-time. Then they were hit with a sucker punch in the shape of a goal by Sarsfields' lethal forward, Aidan McCormack, to leave the favourites in front by 1-11 to 0-7 at the interval.
Drom bounced back with a goal from David Butler on the resumption and this resurrected their challenge and put themselves in front by a point, 2-14 to 1-15, by the fiftieth minute. However, it was Sarsfields who had the better finish with four unanswered points and a three-point victory by 1-21 to 2-15.
Thurles Sarsfields: Patrick McCormack. Stephen Maher, Kevin O'Gorman, David Maher, David kennedy, Padraic Maher (capt.) 0-1, Michael Cahill, Michael Gleeson 0-1, Johnny Enright 0-3, Pa Bourke 0-6, Jim Corbett 0-1, Lar Corbett, Michael O'Brien 0-2, Denis Maher 0-1, Aidan McCormack 1-6. Subs: Ger O'Grady for Michael O'Brien, John Maher for Jim Corbett, Richie Ruth for Johnny Enright, John Lawlor for David Maher. Also: Kevin Smith, Michael Russell, Barry O'Dwyer, Pa Dunne, Tom King, Tommy Doyle, John Joe Bourke, Cian Treacy, Eoin Russell, Rory O'Shea, Michael Collins, David Corbett, Michael O'Dwyer, Pa Crone.
Drom & Inch: Damien Young, Eddie Costello, Micxhael Butler, Mike Costello, Enda Walsh, Eamoin Buckley, Liam Ryan, Shane Delaney, James Woodlock 0-1, Seamus Callanan 1-3, Johnny Ryan 0-9, Pat Lupton, David Butler 1-1, Joe Lupton, Seamus Butler 0-1. Subs: Paul Stapleton for Eddie Costello, Paddy kennedy for Joe Lupton, Jamie Moloney for Shane Delaney, Kevin Butler for Pat Lupton, David Collins for Jamie Moloney. Also: Shane Hassett, James Ryan, Matthew Ryan, Paul Collins, Eric Woodlock, Philip Looby, Joe Egan, Martin McGrath, Nicky Ryan, Padraig Butler, Padraig Stapleton, Cathal Ryan, Michael Campion.
Man of the Match: Aidan McCormack (Thurles Sarsfields)
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Kickhams)
Senior Hurling Championship at a Glance
30/06/2012 The Ragg Burgess 1.14 Moycarkey Borris 0.10 Ger Fitzpatrick
30/06/2012 The Ragg Kildangan 2.11 Holycross Ballycahill 0.16 John McCormack
01/07/2012 Templemore Lorrha Dorrha 4.15 Carrick Davins 0.13 Michael Hassett
01/07/2012 Templemore Moneygall 1.18 Upperchurch Drombane 2.11 Fergal Horgan
01/07/2012 Littleton Roscrea 1.15 Boherlahan Dualla 1.09 Sean Bradshaw
02/07/2012 Drombane Templederry Kenyons 3.23 Golden Kilfeacle 0.10 Keith Delahunty
07/07/2012 The Ragg Borrisokane 0.15 Aherlow 0.14 Paddy Ivors
22/07/2012 Templetuohy Kilruane MacDonaghs1.20 Knockavilla Kickham 0.16 Martin Ryan
21/07/2012 Templemore Lorrha Dorrha 2.24 Ballingarry 2.11 Anthony Sherlock
22/07/2012 Borrisoleigh Templederry Kenyons 2.15 JK Brackens 1.17 Phil Ryan
29/07/2012 Templetuohy Kildangan 2.12 Killenaule 0.13 John O'Brien
29/07/2012 Toomevara Borris-ileigh 0.21 Kilruane MacDonaghs0.16 Johnny Ryan
29/07/2012 Borrisoleigh Drom & Inch 1.14 Moneygall 2.07 Fergal Horgan
03/08/2012 Newport Cappawhite 0.20 Borrisokane 2.13 Martin Ryan
12/08/2012 Templemore Roscrea 4.13 Cashel King Cormacs 1.09 Paddy Ivors
21/08/2012 Dolla Burgess 2.09 Nenagh Eire Óg 0.13 John McCormack
23/08/2012 Clonoulty Borris-ileigh 4.25 Cappawhite 0.14 Johnny Ryan
26/08/2012 Dolla Kildangan 0.20 Templederry Kenyons 0.18 Philip Kelly
26/08/2012 Dolla Drom & Inch 0.22 Burgess 0.11 Fergal Horgan
02/09/2012 Cloughjordan Roscrea 2.12 Lorrha Dorrha 1.14 Kieran Delaney
15/09/2012 Cashel Eire Óg Anacarty 1.17 Borris-ileigh 0.17 Martin Ryan
15/09/2012 Cashel Drom & Inch 2.19 Carrick Swans 1.13 Phil Ryan
16/09/2012 Nenagh Kildangan 2.19 Toomevara 0.15 Fergal Horgan
16/09/2012 Nenagh Loughmore Castleiney 1.24 Roscrea 2.10 John O'Brien
22/09/2012 Semple Stadium Loughmore Castleiney 0.22 Mullinahone 2.11 Fergal Horgan
22/09/2012 Semple Stadium Drom & Inch 2.22 Clonoulty Rossmore 0.13 Philip Kelly
23/09/2012 Semple Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 3.22 Kildangan 1.12 Paddy Ivors
23/09/2012 Semple Stadium Eire Óg Anacarty 1.15 Portroe 1.10 Johnny Ryan
07/10/2012 Semple Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 2.22 Eire Óg Anacarty 1.13 Anthony Sherlock
07/10/2012 Semple Stadium Drom & Inch 2.26 Loughmore Castleiney 1.21 John O'Brien
14/10/2012 Semple Stadium Thurles Sarsfields 1.21 Drom & Inch 2.15 Fergal Horgan
Tipperary G.A.A. Yearbook 2013, pp. 69-75