Drom were without county star Seamus Callanan and also had former county man James Woodlock out through injury. Their combined loss was too big a burden to carry against an Upperchurch-Drombane outfit that has been bothering the best in recent years.
With the wind behind them, Upperchurch dominated the first half. Pat Shortt was faultless on frees, notching seven, and with James Barry controlling the defence, they raced into a 0-13 to 0-3 lead coming up to half-time. Drom got a lifeline with a Stevie Nolan goal two minutes before the break, followed by a David Butler point, to leave them trailing 1-5 to 0-14 at the interval.
Drom had the better of things in the third quarter, outpointing their rivals five to two, and looked to be taking charge, but then Upperchurch hit three unanswered points from Colm Ryan (2) and Loughlin Ryan to go six clear with five minutes to play.
Drom piled forward but met stubborn resistance, points from Shane Hassett, Padraic Campion, and Johnny Ryan leaving them four behind at the end.
Kiladangan edged out Loughmore-Castliney in a thriller, 0-15 to 1-11, between two sides with title-winning aspirations. Loughmore had county man Noel McGrath back after missing recent Tipp games through injury but Kiladangan looked the better side in the first half and were ahead coming to the break when Noel McGrath set up Liam McGrath for a Loughmore goal and an interval lead of 1-5 to 0-7.
It was a fine contest with Joe Gallagher and Willie Connors to the fore for Kildangan while county colleagues John McGrath (Loughmore) and Alan Flynn (Kildangan) were having a great tussle. In a hugely exciting second half, Kiladangan seemed to be heading for a narrow victory when Noel McGrath looked to have secured a draw for Loughmore when he pointed a sideline ball with time running out. However, with the last puck of the game Ciaran Kelly shot a winning point for Kiladangan for a huge win in this competitive group.
The clash between champions Thurles Sarsfields and Carrick Swans did not go ahead.
Scheduled for Littleton on Saturday, it was switched to Monroe but still did not take place. The county fixtures committee are to discuss the situation at a meeting tonight. The non-playing of this game impacted on the county intermediate championship as Sarsfields’ intermediates cannot play until their seniors first play championship. So their game against Cappawhite in the lower grade also had to be postponed, posing a fixtures headache for the board in both grades.
Holycross-Ballycahill got their championship season off on the right note with a clear-cut 1-17 to 1-9 win over Ballina. Key to Holycross’ success was the effective policing job done by Cathal Barrett in curbing his county colleague, Ballina centre-half forward Michael Breen, while Gavin Dunne also did well for Holycross in reducing the influence of county footballer and former county hurling panellist Stephen O’Brien.
Holycross were well on top early on, six points clear after 10 minutes. A Dara Woods goal after 19 minutes helped them to an interval lead of 1-14 to 0-6. In what was a low-key second half, Ballina never threatened to catch their rivals.
A goal ten minutes into the second half by David Hickey cut the Ballina deficit to nine points and gave them some hope but Holycross held on comfortably for a victory in which Barrett Dunne, the accurate Dara Woods, Conor Ryan, and goalkeeper Ewan Bourke were key men.
Wingback Jerry O’Brien was Ballina’s top performer with Michael Breen and Stephen O’Brien also putting in a big effort.