This year’s county final will be contested by the last two sides to lay claim to the Tom Callanan Cup after defending champions Liam Mellows and 2016 champions St Thomas’ overcame serious tests in their respective semi-finals.
In two high-quality contests, Kevin Lally’s St Thomas’ side goaled late on to secure a five-point win over Sarsfields, while Liam Mellows came from behind to deny Cappataggle at the death as they moved one step closer to retaining their title.
Both sides have two weeks now to take care of any knocks or niggles ahead of the biggest game of the club hurling calendar in what promises to be an intriguing county final fixed for November 18.
St Thomas’ 2-19 Sarsfields 0-20
Brendan Farrell’s second half stoppage time goal finally broke Sarsfields' resistance as St Thomas’ made a return to the county final, just one game away now from their third ever crown.
In what was a most enjoyable contest, Sarsfields gave as good as they got for most of the game, impressing hugely in the process, particularly in the early going as they opened up a 0-5 to 0-1 lead.
Darragh Burke’s goal quickly got St Thomas’ back into the game but they were second best for much of the half struggling to work around Sarsfields' sweeper Joseph Cooney.
They still managed to draw level by the 23rd minute but Sarsfields, with Kevin Cooney in splendid form, fought back to lead 0-12 to 1-8 at the break.
Eanna Burke carried the fight to Sarsfields in the second half with four points, the first of which levelled the tie soon after the break, before brother David fired St Thomas’ ahead.
They would never trail thereafter even though Sarsfields did draw level on four occasions before a three in-a-row by Darragh Burke (two ) and Eanna stretched the lead to three.
Sarsfields battled on gamely and moved Joseph Cooney to the edge of the square in search of a goal but the goal came at the other end as Farrell bundled home Bernard Burke’s half-blocked shot to secure the win.
St Thomas’ Scorers: Darragh Burke 1-7 (0-5 frees ), Eanna Burke 0-5, Brendan Farrell 1-2, Shane Cooney, James Regan, David Burke, Conor Cooney and Kenneth Burke, 0-1 each.
Sarsfields Scorers: Niall Morrissey 0-9 (0-7 frees, 0-1 65’ ), Kevin Cooney 0-3, Alan Ward and Ian Fox 0-2 each, Kenneth Cooney, Noel Kelly, Joseph Cooney and Eric Kenny, 0-1 each.
Liam Mellows 0-20 Cappataggle 0-19
Leading 0-19 to 0-18 deep in injury time following a third Darragh Dolan point, Cappataggle could feel a place in the club's first county final at the tip of their fingers, but there was to be heartbreak right at the death as two late points by Jack Forde and Tadhg Haran brought a shuddering halt to their season.
It is never over until the final whistle and credit to Liam Mellows who showed huge battling spirit to deny Cappataggle and march on to a second consecutive county final.
Mellows were much the better side in the opening half and were justifiably 0-14 to 0-10 ahead at half time.
They had Kenneth Walsh to thank for saving a penalty from his opposite number James Skehill, with the sides tied at 0-4 apiece with Cappataggle growing into the game.
From there, four points on the spin by Jack Hastings, Morrissey (two ), and Conor Elwood helped Mellows to that half time lead, but they would go 17 minutes without scoring in the second half as Cappataggle, inspired by Jarlath Mannion, stormed back in to the game to lead 0-16 to 0-15 inside the final quarter.
Mellows showed their composure however and broke their duck through Haran and despite falling behind again in the games dying embers, Forde and Haran assured Mellows a place in the county final with two clutch scores.
Liam Mellows scorers: Adrian Morrissey 0-8 (0-7 frees ), Tadhg Haran 0-4 (0-1 free ), Aonghus Callanan 0-3, Conor Kavanagh 0-2, Conor Elwood, Jack Hastings and Jack Forde, 0-1 each.
Cappataggle scorers: Jarlath Mannion 0-5, Alan Dolan 0-4 (0-3 frees ), Darragh Dolan 0-3, Dan Nevin 0-2 (frees ), Damien Joyce, Alan Loughnane, James Egan, Ronan Garvey and Donal Mannion, 0-1 each.