Played in near ideal conditions, there was very little between the sides from first whistle to last, three points the biggest margin separating them at any stage. Twice that situation occurred, both times in the second half, but on each occasion, ironically, it was Borris-Ileigh in control, and on each occasion it was Drom & Inch tying it up with a goal, before eventually driving on to victory.
The teams went in level at the break, 0-8 apiece, but neither can have felt particularly pleased with their first-half performance.
Drom & Inch, with the assistance of the breeze, were far too reliant on county star Seamus Callanan for their scores. Seamus notched six of those eight Drom points, four from play (former county star Seamus Butler and Johnny Ryan (a free) with the other points) but it was a paltry return in the conditions.
It wasn’t as if this was a ferociously contested match either; in truth, the match lacked fire right throughout, and in spite of the closeness on the board, never really caught the imagination of a decent quarter-final double-header crowd of around 5,000.
Borris-Ileigh were faring no better in that opening half, full-forward and captain Martin Maher leading the way for them with three fine points, free-taker David O’Connor with three more from placed balls, half-forwards Mark Bourke and Brendan Maher (wing-back for Tipp in the All-Ireland final, operating on the 40 here) with the others.
The second half began promisingly for Borris-Ileigh. After Brendan Maher and Johnny Ryan exchanged points in the opening few minutes, Borris took control, scored six points in the next 10 minutes, two each from corner-forwards Matthew Stapleton and David O’Connor, one apiece from Vincent Stapleton and Martin Maher. Unfortunately for them, however, after their first run of three unanswered points, Drom & Inch broke through for their first goal, Callanan ghosting in behind the inside line of defence to latch onto a Seamus Butler pass, then place a bouncing shot across goal past Borris-Ileigh keeper Jody Harkin, who might have done better.
Even more unfortunately, after their second hat-trick of points to again go three clear, Drom & Inch again broke through their rearguard, and this time it was substitute David Butler – just on the field, having been dropped from the announced starting 15 due to loss of form in recent challenge games – with the final touch, a first-time opportunistic finish from close range of a breaking ball, after the Borris-Ileigh defence were caught napping by a quickly-taken Callanan sideline. Inexcusable at this level and at this stage of a senior championship. That was in the 45th minute, and tails now up, Callanan then went on to point two consecutive frees for Drom & Inch, to put them into a lead they would never relinquish. Four times Borris-Ileigh came with a point in the final quarter but each time Drom & Inch replied, substitute David Butler with the final say.
Notable in this period was the contribution of Drom & Inch team captain James Woodlock; up to then the county midfield star had barely touched a ball but when the chips were down, he finally showed up. If Drom & Inch are to go any further in this championship, however, they are going to need a lot more from James. In fact they are going to need a lot more from all 15.
Scorers for Drom & Inch: S. Callanan 1-9 (0-3 frees, 0-1 65); D. Butler 1-1; Johnny Ryan 0-3 (0-2 frees); J. Kennedy, S. Butler, 0-1 each.
Borris-Ileigh: D. O’Connor 0-6 (0-5 frees); M. Maher 0-4 (0-1 free); B. Maher 0-2; V. Stapleton 0-2; M. Stapleton 0-2; M. Bourke, J. Keane, D. Maher, 0-1 each.
DROM & INCH: D. Young; Martin Butler, E. Costello, M. Costello; D. Kennedy, P. Stapleton, Micheál Butler; D. Ryan, J. Woodlock (c); J. Ryan, S. Callanan, J. Kennedy; J. Ryan, S. Butler, D. Collins.
Subs: D. Butler (James Ryan 42); M. Ryan (Collins 57).
BORRIS-ILEIGH: J. Harkin; S. Maher, P. Rabbitte, E. Stapleton; D. Maher, P. Maher, P. Stapleton; K. Ryan, J. Keane; V. Stapleton, B. Maher, M. Bourke; D. O’Connor, M. Maher (c), M. Stapleton.
Subs: A. Cowan (Bourke 47); Paul Maher (M. Stapleton 54).
Referee: S. Bradshaw (Knockavilla Kickhams).