Heroic Drumcullen return to top flight hurling after high scoring semi-final win
CONFOUNDING the odds and most people's expectations, Drumcullen returned to top flight hurling with a richly deserved win over Tullamore in St Brendan's Park, Birr this afternoon.
They will now face Clodiagh Gaels or Kinnitty in the senior “B” final in a couple of weeks time and the manner in which Drumcullen have turned their season around has been quite remarkable. They looked to be heading out of the championship a couple of weeks ago but a shock win over championship favourites Kinnitty proved the defining moment of the year. They built on that with a very solid, very efficient performance here, with some quality displays thrown into the mix to leave Tullamore reeling.
There was absolutely no disputing the merit of Drumcullen's win as Tullamore gave a strangely lethargic display. They weren't far away and could very easily have forced extra time or even snatched it but this was not a good Tullamore display and they were definitely second best.
Drumcullen worked very hard and had heroes standing up all over the field with Padraic Guinan immense in their defence in the second half, having got two important points from the half forward line in the first half.Colm Gath also had a great game for Drumcullen on the edge of the square. His pace and ball winning ability created so many openings for Drumcullen as he got a goal, set up another and also missed a penalty, With Conor Gath scoring well from play and frees beside him as he showed some fantastic touches and Dermot Gath scoring 1-2, the Drumcullen forwards had a productive afternoon.
Tullamore fought hard but never really got going. Aaron Hensey worked like a trojan for them while Shane Dooley's scores once again kept them in contention, though he missed a couple and his point from a free deep in injury time was strange as they needed a goal at that stage – maybe he was going for goal but if he did, it was well over the bar.
Playing with the wind in the first half, Drumcullen gave a powerful notice of their intent with three quick fire points. Tullamore gradually settled and were back on level terms, 0-4 each by the ninth minute, edging in front with a Shane Dooley free in the 13th minute.
Then it got really exciting as Drumcullen were awarded a penalty when Mark Kennedy was fouled but Colm Gath put it wide. Gath, however, quickly made ammends with a sensational goal in the 19th minute, racing in from the right and blasting to the net from a narrow angle.
Both goalkeepers became central figures after this. A Shane Dooley sideline in the 21st minute was fumbled into the net by Drumcullen goalkeeper Padraic Cashin in the 21st minute to put Tullamore 1-6 to 1-5 ahead.
Drumcullen's response to that was crucial to their win. They got the next three points and then the break that they needed when Adam Cleary dropped Dermot Gath's shot from distance into the net. Drumcullen led by 2-9 to 1-7 at half time and despite facing into the wind in the second half, it was clear that they had a very good chance.
In the second half, Drumcullen continued to drive at their opponents. Tullamore had spells on top but overall Drumcullen worked that bit harder and seemed to want it more. They were 2-12 to 1-11 ahead when their third goal arrived in the 50th minute as Colm Gath did very well to cut in at the Tullamore defence and his centre was tapped to the net by sub, Eoin Gath.
They should have eased home from here but instead Tullamore finally began to play and got back into it. A fine goal from sub, Gareth Mann, just moments after he came on in the 54th minute, gave them hope and points from Shane Dooley, who began to drive his side on, and Ger Treacy cut it to two points with time almost up.
Dermot Gath got a crucial point for Drumcullen and then Colm Gath drew a super save from Adam Cleary a minute into injury time. Conor Gath pointed the “65” to put four on it but five minutes of injury time were played and Tullamore ensured some very anxious moments for the winners. Sub Shane Kelly got it back to a goal with a fine point – Kelly only came on at half time, having picked up an injury in Tullamore's junior football semi-final win the previous week. Tullamore raided a couple of times but that Dooley free was their final chance and Drumcullen held on for a famous win.
Drumcullen: Conor Gath 0-8 (4f and 1 '65'), Dermot Gath 1-2, Colm Gath and Eoin Gath 1-0 each Mark Kennedy and Padraic Guinan 0-2 each.
Tullamore: Shane Dooley 1-10 (goal from a sideline, 8f), Gareth Mann 1-0, Dylan Hensey, Jack Dooley, Ger Treacy, Shane Kelly, Michael Fox 0-1 each.
TULLAMORE: Adam Cleary; Dylan Hensey, Niall Houlihan, Kevin Waters; Ger Crowe, Aaron Hensey, Stephen Egan; Jack Dooley, Ger Treacy; Hugh Treacy, Cormac Martin, Timmy Molloy; Michael Feeney, Shane Dooley, Michael Fox. Subs – Shane Kelly for Hugh Treacy (half time), Peter Fox for Feeney (42m), Mark Conlon for Martin (44m), Niall McCabe for Michael Fox (44m), Gareth Mann for Dooley (53m),
DRUMCULLEN: Padraic Cashin; Donal Mahon, Donal Guinan, Barry O'Meara; Danny Maher, Ray Gath, John Cashin; Kevin Fleury, Ciaran Guinan; Mark Kennedy, Dermot Gath, Padraig Guinan; John Murray, Colm Gath, Conor Gath. Subs – Eoin Gath for Murray (25m), Sean Kinsella for Fluery (49m), Stephen Hanrahan for Ray Gath (62m),
Referee – Kieran Pat Kelly (St Rynagh's).