JK Brackens Conor Cadell is fouled by Upperchurch/Drombane’s Diarmaid Grant. Photo: Eamonn McGee

Church reach first senior football semi-final

GAA: FBD Insurance County Senior Football Championship Quarter Finals

Upperchurch-Drombane 1-11

JK Brackens 0-10

Report: Michael Dundon in Holycross

Upperchurch/Drombane’s progression as a football force took another step on Saturday as they reached a first ever county senior semi-final after getting the better of JK Brackens.

This was always going to be a tight affair and while JK Brackens were generally fancied to progress, the lads from ‘The Church showed the greater appetite for the contest and ultimately it was the focus and energy they brought to bear on their game that turned over their Mid opponents.

Upperchurch got to the quarter-final last year, and it is indicative of their progress in football that they have gone a step further this year. Who is to say they can’t go further? They have plenty of football ability in the side and given their high level of commitment, they will not fear any opposition

With county football manager David Power on hand to spot talent, Brackens opened in lively fashion with points from Shane Bourke and Jack Kennedy but by the thirteenth minute the ‘Church were level, Loughlin Ryan, and Paul Shanahan scoring. Jack Butler nudged Upperchurch ahead, but Neil Quinlan responded for Brackens.

It was a contest that threatened to become over heated, with some full-bodied tackling from both sides. After Luke Shanahan put Upperchurch ahead in the 22nd minute, Brackens were denied a certain goal a minute later as James Griffin, the Upperchurch custodian expertly turned aside a Shane Bourke effort.

With the game in injury time, Upperchurch struck for what was the match-winning score. Loughlin Ryan was grounded by Templemore goalie Kuba Beban, and Paul Shanahan expertly tucked the penalty away. Beban got a black card for the incident, but Brackens finished the half with a Dean McEnroe point to trail 0-4 to 1-4 at the interval.

Upperchurch would have been the happier with how the first half evolved but Brackens’ track record in second halves would have them confident they would still qualify.

After ten minutes of the second half though, Upperchurch had extended their advantage to 1-8 to 0-6 and Brackens’ concern was reflected in the introduction of Lyndon Fairbrother and Andrew Ormond. Fairbrother promptly scored two points and with another from Jack Kennedy they were 0-9 to 1-8 behind going into the last quarter.

It looked as though the momentum was with Brackens, but they failed to convert four good point chances while Upperchurch, on the counter attack, picked off points through Conor Fahey and Luke Shanahan to be 1-10 to 0-9 ahead with three minutes left.

Brackens piled forward in numbers – Upperchurch were defending resolutely. Conor Cadell’s point in the 62nd minute left a goal between them, but time was on Upperchurch’s side and in a break from defence Ailbe O’Donoghue popped over the insurance point, much to the delight of the large Upperchurch following.

It was a big win for Upperchurch/Drombane, one that endorses their growing stature in football in the county, and one which was richly deserved. Comfortable on the ball, patient in their build-up, allied to their impressive work-rate, they are a side to be feared.

The Shanahan’s, Paul & Luke, may be the star turns in attack but the work of Dean Carew, Matt Ryan, Jack Butler, the Grants and Loughlin Ryan also contributes enormously to the package they bring to games.

JK Brackens were greatly disappointed at the outcome. They never really got into stride, and little was seen of their normal free-flowing game.

Of course, the tenacity of the Upperchurch defending had a lot to do with that, but still Brackens got enough chances to have at least forced the game to extra time and can have no excuses. Neil Quinlan, Conor Cadell, and Shane Bourke were their key men but Paddy Cadell, Dean McEnroe, Martin Delaney, and Lyndon Fairbrother when introduced all contributed well to their challenge.

These sides’ renew acquaintance next Sunday in the senior hurling quarter-final. How this result will influence that game, if it does at all, is anybody’s guess, but it has certainly added spice to what is already an intriguing engagement.

Player of the Match: Luke Shanahan (Upperchurch-Drombane)

Upperchurch-Drombane: James Griffin (7); Ger Grant (6), Matt Ryan (6), Ailbe O’Donoghue (0-1, 6); Dean Carew (0-1, 7), Gavin Ryan (6), Mikey Lavery (6); Keith Ryan (6), Jack Butler (0-1, 6); Aaron Ryan (6), Paul Shanahan (1-2, 1-0 pen, 0-1f) 7), Diarmuid Grant (6); Luke Shanahan (0-4, 2f) 8), Niall Grant (6), Loughlin Ryan (0-1, 6).

Subs: Colin Ryan (6) for L Ryan (40); Conor Fahey (0-1, 6) for D Grant (40); Sean Ryan (6) for N Grant (54); Paidi Greene (NR) for A Ryan (58).

JK Brackens: Kuba Beban (6); Tom Murphy (6), Lorcan Egan (6), Martin Delaney (6); Jordan Moloney (6), Paddy Cadell (7), Niall Quinlan (0-1, 7); David O’Shea (5), Lorcan Roche (6); Shane Bourke (0-1, 7), Cathal Scully (6), Conor Cadell (0-2, 7); Shane Doyle (6), Jack Kennedy (0-2, 1f) 6), Dean McEnroe (0-2, 7).

Subs: Adrian Bourke (6) for O’Shea (23); Lyndon Fairbrother (0-2, 7) for Egan (40); Andrew Ormond (6) for McEnroe (47); Eanna McBride (6) for Roche (52).

Referee: Joe Leahy (Moyne-Templetuohy).