Roche played his club hurling with the Carrick Davins club in Tipperary. He enjoyed some success with the club in the mid-1960s, winning back-to-back senior county championship titles in 1966 and 1967. These were the club’s first and, to date, only county titles.
In 1961 Roche tasted his first major success when he won Munster and All-Ireland titles with the Tipperary minor team. Three years later he won Munster and All-Ireland medals in the inaugural year of the under-21 series of games.
By 1964 Roche was also a member of the Tipperary senior inter-county team. That year he won his first senior Munster title following a huge win over Cork. Roche later captured his first senior All-Ireland medal following a win over the red-hot favourites Kilkenny. In 1965 he won a second Munster medal before subsequently capturing his second All-Ireland title following a comfortable win over Wexford. Two years later in 1967 Roche was captain of the Tipp senior team. That year he guided his native-county to another provincial title, however, his side were defeated by Kilkenny in the All-Ireland final. Roche was captain again in 1968 when he won his fourth Munster title, however, Tipp were beaten in the All-Ireland final for a second year in-a-row. In 1971 he added a fifth provincial medal to his collection before winning his third All-Ireland medal following a classic game against Kilkenny.