St Thomas and Portumna prepare for replay
Joe Canning, under pressure from St Thomas, was an influential player for Portumana in the Senior Hurling Championship semi final at Kenny Park, Athenry, which goes to a replay this weekend.
Current All-Ireland club hurling champions St Thomas and three-times winners Portumna renew acquaintances on Saturday (3.45pm) at Kenny Park in the replay of last Sunday's county semi-final. It finished Portumna 0-22 to 1-19 for a fortunate St Thomas outfit.
With just minutes to go Portumna led by 0-22 to 0-18 and looked destined to join Loughrea in the county final, but Richie Murray and Conor Cooney secured the draw with two last-minute scores.
Regular St Thomas' full-forward Richie Murray was introduced only 13 minutes from time due to a knee injury. However the Castleboy man made a massive difference, providing a focal point for their attack and, when needed most, he kicked the ball to the Portumna net in the 59th minute to bring John Burke's men back into contention. Conor Cooney followed up with a contentious free that referee Alan Kelly gave for over-carrying, to tie the game in front of a huge attendance of 10,000.
Cooney was a key player for his team throughout the contest and ended the game with 0-11 (8 frees).
Galway star forward Joe Canning, who lined out at midfield for Portumna, was hugely influential. The three-times All-Star looked to have wrapped up the game when he hit his 13th point three minutes from time in a game Portumna dominated for long periods, while fellow three-times All-Star, Damien Hayes was in splendid form in the first half, hitting four points from play as St Thomas struggled to keep up with the Shannonsiders.
Canning had punished some reckless defending to help Portumna to a 0-14 to 0-8 half-time advantage, but Conor Cooney and Eanna Burke closed the gap to four points for a team that rode their luck.
The replay is expected to attract another bumper crowd to Kenny Park and will be part of a double-bill that includes the county intermediate final between Cappataggle and Kilnadeema-Leitrim at 2pm.
St Thomas: P Skehill; C Burke, Robert Murray, S Burke; D Cooney, Darragh Burke (0-1), E Tannion; K Burke, David Burke (0-1); J Regan, C Cooney (0-11 8f), B Burke (0-1); E Burke (0-3), S Cooney, A Kelly (0-2). Subs: Richie Murray (1-0) for Regan 47, D Sherry for Tannion 53.
Portumna: J Keane; G Heagney, E McEntee, O Treacy; C O’Hare, M Dolphin, E Lynch; L Smith, J Canning (0-13 8f); K Hayes, D Hayes (0-5), A Smith (0-1); R O’Meara (0-2), O Canning (0-1), N Hayes. Sub: M Ryan for O’Hare 55.