Underdogs Portroe overcame a well-fancied Toomevara side to capture their first North Tipperary SHC title following a memorable final at MacDonagh Park, Nenagh last evening.
Coached by All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy, Portroe took the game to the champions right from the throw-in and despite trailing by a point at the break they put in a blistering second-half performance to deny Toomevara a hat-trick of titles.
Toomevara faced into the teeth of a strong breeze in the opening half but took an early lead with successive John Delaney points. James Ryan retorted with Portoe’s opening score before Ken Dunne converted the first of five first-half frees. Portroe fought back to level in the ninth minute before edging two clear with John Sheedy on target from frees.
Toomevara levelled with a 17th minute John O’Brien effort before pulling four clear thanks further Dunne frees and efforts from Frances Devaney and Mark McCarthy.
Toomevara maintained their advantage with a brand of pinpoint accurate hurling but were caught on the hop just before the break after Kevin O’Halloran pointed and John Ryan netted in injury time to bring Portroe back on terms. Toomevara took a slender 0-11 to 1-7 lead to the dressing room though with Ken Dunne again on target with a close-range free.
Within seconds of the re-start Portroe restored parity before Mark Gennery broke through the Toomevara cover to rattle the Toome net in the 38th minute. Poor shooting and a missed goal opportunity from corner-forward, Willie Ryan compounded Toomevara’s efforts to respond as they struggled to stay on terms with a hungrier Portroe outfit.
Portroe, now in the ascendancy, stretched their lead further with James Hogan and Michael Sheedy on target before Michael Sheedy again scythed through to rifle a low drive past Darren Cuddihy for Port’s third goal.
Leading by eight, Portroe pressed home their advantage as time ticked away. Toomevara battled to get back on terms but despite a late Ken Dunne goal, and points from Eoin Brislane and Paddy O’Brien narrowing the gap to three they were still in dire need of a goal to send the tie to a replay.
Ken Dunne was afforded the chance deep in injury time but his effort was cleared off the Portroe line and away to safety to ensure a hugely memorable and historic victory for Portroe.
Scorers for Toomevara: K Dunne 1-10 (9fs, 1 65), J Delaney 0-2, J O’Brien, M McCarthy, F Devaney, E Brislane, P O’Brien, D Kennedy, D Young 0-1 each.
Scorers for Portroe: J Sheedy 0-8 (6fs), J Ryan 1-2, M Sheedy 1-1, M Gennery 1-0, J Ryan 0-2, J Creamer, K O’Halloran, S O’Brien 0-1 each.
TOOMEVARA: D Cuddihy, Barry Dunne, A Ryan, D Kelly; D Young, Benny Dunne, D Delaney; F Devaney (C), D Kennedy; C O’Meara, J O’Brien, K Dunne; M McCarthy, J Delaney, W Ryan.
Subs: P O’Brien for O’Meara (ht), E Brislane for McCarthy (44), J Boland for Kennedy (51).
PORTROE: D Gleeson, C O’Riordan, N O’Halloran, D O’Halloran; M Creamer, S Kelly, C Gleeson; J Creamer (capt), J Conroy; James Ryan, M Sheedy, K O’Halloran; M Gennery, John Ryan, J Sheedy.
Subs: D Hogan for O’Halloran (42), S O’Brien for Conroy (45), D Gleeson for Gennery (56).
Referee: A Sherlock (Kildangan).
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