Late Turlough challenge not enough to derail St Thomas

Turloughmore’s Michael Morris attempts to stop Damien McGlynn of StThomas in action from the Senior Hurling Championship at Athenry semi-final at Kenny Park on Sunday. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

Turloughmore’s Michael Morris attempts to stop Damien McGlynn of StThomas in action from the Senior Hurling Championship at Athenry semi-final at Kenny Park on Sunday. Photo:- Mike Shaughnessy

ST THOMAS 3-14

TURLOUGHMORE 1-15

Two St Thomas goals inside the opening 10 minutes took the competitive edge out of an expected competitive semi-final pairing until Turloughmore mounted a very late challenge.

When Turloughmore substitute Ronan Badger poached a 54th minute goal, a ripple of tension finally took hold of a contest that seemed to be trundling along to its inevitable conclusion. Ninety seconds later Badger stood over a penalty and the bumper Kenny Park crowd sensed drama of the highest order.

A goal would have put just two points between the sides, but Badger was left crestfallen when his strike, which had wrong-footed goalkeeper James Barrett, struck the butt of the post and was waved wide. A glorious chance had been missed and Turloughmore’s absence from senior county final action will stretch to 30 years when the 2020 edition begins.

St Thomas' half back line played a blinder, limiting Turloughmore to just two points from play in the first half. By contrast, Kevin Lally’s men hit 1-5 of their interval tally of 2-8 from play, giving them a six-point advantage.

Six different players had registered scores, with stalwarts such as James Regan, David Burke, and Cathal Burke rising to the occasion and helping St Thomas reach levels of performance seldom seen this season. Turloughmore tried tactically to upset their patterns of play, but too often St Thomas' players found pockets of space in which to showcase their skills.

A blistering start saw David Burke win an early free that Darragh Burke drilled over from the left sideline, before Regan and Conor Cooney set up Brendan Farrell for a third-minute goal. Barrett had to be alert minutes later to deny Sean Loftus a goal at the other end, with Loftus opening Turloughmore’s account from the rebound.

St Thomas’ approach was more measured, and when Farrell was upended for a penalty in the 10th minute by Ronan Burke after Conor Cooney’s shot had dropped short and struck the bar, Cooney calmly sent Mark Fahy the wrong way and another green flag was aloft.

Turloughmore did manage to restrict any further damage in the immediate aftermath as Conor Walsh and Jamie Holland struck points from frees of varying distances, cutting the deficit to 2-4 to 0-5, but when St Thomas surged again, they added points in quick succession from Conor Cooney, Regan, and David Burke.

Regan’s second point rounded off the scoring for St.Thomas before the short whistle, while Sean Loftus finally added another from play for Turlough to leave six in it.

Though not an insurmountable lead, the patterns of play suggested St Thomas would be hard to budge from their position of strength.

That notion hardened further when a third goal was added early in the second half when David Burke and Farrell combined to set up Oisín Flannery who drilled a ground stroke to the net. Conor Cooney fetched a puck out from the sky soon after and took off on a gallop that ended in another point, and Turloughmore were soon calling for replacements.

St Thomas’ lead became 11 with 20 minutes remaining, and while they only added two to their total in the next 15 minutes, they rarely looked under threat. Barrett needed to be sharp to deny Wash a goal, but Turloughmore continued to struggle converting scoring chances from play.

Walsh frees got them within nine before Barry McDonagh pointed on 52 minutes, and Badger’s goal sparked a mini-revival that was extinguished almost as soon as it had begun. Matthew Keating’s late red card was an irrelevance as Turloughmore bowed out after losing for the first time.

St Thomas’ golden generation now have an opportunity of claiming back-to-back titles when they take on Liam Mellows for a second successive year on November 10 in Pearse Stadium. Fintan Burke’s cruciate injury recovery continues, and it will be interesting to see if he sees action when the Tom Callanan Cup is up for grabs.

ST THOMAS: J Barrett; C Mahoney, S Skehill, D Sherry; D Cooney, S Cooney, C Burke; J Regan (0-2 ), David Burke (0-1 ); B Burke (0-1 ), C Cooney (1-2, 1-0 pen ), Darragh Burke (0-7fs ); O Flannery (0-1 ), B Farrell (1-0 ), D McGlynn. Subs: J Caulfield for McGlynn (38 ), E.Duggan for Mahoney (52 ), E Burke for Farrell (58 ).

TURLOUGHMORE : M Fahy; M Keating, R Burke, M Morris; D Burke, J Holland (0-3fs ), F Moore; D Loftus, K Hussey; B McDonagh (0-1 ), C Walsh (0-9fs ), G Burke; R Doyle, S Loftus (0-2 ), S Linnane. Subs: C Shaughnessy for Doyle (37 ), D Holland for G Burke (37 ), R Badger (1-0 ) for D Loftus (44 ).

REFEREE : A Kelly.

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