A strong finish by West
champions Rosegreen carried them to victory over a fancied Portroe in the Clean Ireland Recycling County Junior B Hurling Championship semi-final at The Ragg on Saturday.
They will now face Killenaule in the final.
The turning point in this spirited contest came six minutes from time. Portroe were just one point adrift but lost former senior Dinny Hogan to a red card for a careless swing of the hurley, as team-mate Robert Byrne pointed a free.
It was a huge setback to the North champions, as Hogan was their main ball-winner in an under-performing attack.
Without him their attack was leaderless. In a desperate bid to compensate they brought goalie Robert Byrne into the attack, Byrne having pointed three long-range frees for them earlier, and introducing mentor and former Tipperary player John Sheedy in goal.
The initiative did not pay dividends. The advantage was with Rosegreen and they exploited it to the full, wing-forward Sean Cormack, their scorer-in-chief, notching two late points to give them the three-points win.
This was a keenly-fought contest all the way with nothing between the sides. Portroe looked the sharper early on, going four points to one clear after ten minutes, the impressive Conor Byrne hitting three of the scores, and Anthony Freeman the fourth, from a free, in answer to Sean Cormac’s opening point for Rosegreen.
After Cormac and Portroe goalie Robert Byrne swapped points, the crucial score of the game came in the 19th minute when Michael Mackey blasted home a Rosegreen goal to level the tie at 1-2 to 0-5.
Rosegreen grew in confidence after this score, Cormac landing two more points to Anthony Freeman and Dinny Hogan scores for Portroe, to leave the sides level at the break, 1-4 to 0-7. Significantly, however, Rosegreen would have the aid of the fresh breeze in the second half.
Scores were at a premium in the third quarter. Goalie Robert Byrne landed two more frees for Portroe while Michael Mackey and Sean Cormac responded for Rosegreen, before Cormac nudged Rosegreen ahead entering the last quarter.
He added another six minutes later for a two points lead but O’Brien again delivered a long-range free for Portroe to keep them just one point adrift.
However, as that point sailed over the bar, Portroe’s Dinny Hogan was penalised for a foul and sent to the line.
Advantage Rosegreen, and they accepted it with open arms.
Sean Cormac gave them a two-points lead with a pointed free in the 25th minute. In a final despearate throw of the dice Portroe introduced mentor and former Tipperary county player John Sheedy in goal, bringing Robert Byrne to the attack in a bid to boost their scoring potential.
However Rosegreen had the bit between their teeth, and with the game going into injury time Cormac pointed another free to seal a win that delighted their supporters.
So Rosegreen now face off against Killenaule in what should be a gripping final. They showed great character and self-belief in this win over a fancied Portroe side and go into the final on a high.
Of concern for them is the fact that eight of their points came from frees. A 1-2 return from play is not the stuff that wins championships, but due allowance has to be made for a difficult surface after heavy overnight rain.
Sean Cormac was their scoring hero, notching eight points, but the performances of Robert O’Brien, Aidan Lonergan, Trevor Downey, Jamie Heffernan, Killian Ryan, Vinnie Downey and Michael Mackey were also worthy of note.
It was a disappointing end to the year for Portroe, whose expectations in this grade were high. They had their chances but did not take them and can have no complaint about the result.
Joe Sexton, John Hogan, Billy Donovan, Cormac Shouldice, Dinny Hogan and Conor Byrne were their top performers while goalie Robert Byrne’s accuracy from long-range frees was also a big boost to them.
Rosegreen – Daniel Hayde; Joe Colson, Joe Breen, Robert O’Brien; Vinnie Downey, Aidan Lonergan(0-1 free), Trevor Downey; Jamie Heffernan, Mark Harnett; Killian Ryan, John O Grady, Sean Cormac (0-8, 7 frees); Danny Fanning, Michael Mackey (1-1), Diarmuid Quinlan.
Portroe - Robert Byrne (0-4 frees); Nigel Flood, John Hogan (W), Joe Sexton; Billy Donovan, Nicky Ryan, Cormac Keating; Jack Keating, Cormac Shouldice; Pat Sexton, Dinny Hogan (0-1), Conor Byrne (0-3); Darren Ahern, John Hogan (S), Anthony Freeman (0-2 frees).
Subs - Ian O’Donnell for J Hogan (S); Corey Mulrooney for Freeman; Patrick McGrath for Ahern; John Sheedy for P Sexton.
Referee - Brian Tyrrell, Clonmel.