The much-anticpated opening round of the senior hurling championship last weekend provided plenty of high-quality action for those fortunate enough to be in attendance or watching online, as kingpins St Thomas needed a dramatic late surge to escape from Pearse Stadium with a win over an unlucky Castlegar side.
Conor Cooney’s late, late goal helped snatch victory for the injury-hit champions, but it was cruel on Castlegar, who had led at one stage by as much as nine points. Their inside forward line was a constant menace, and goals by Oisín Connolly (2 ) and Enda Concannon had Cashel sensing an upset, but in the end a 2-23 to 3-18 final scoreline gave St Thomas the narrowest of wins in group three.
The other game in that group drew plenty of national headlines as both Joe and Jack Canning were red carded in similar incidents in Portumna’s loss to Sarsfields in Kenny Park on Sunday. The New Inn/Bullaun side pulled well clear after the dismissals to win by 16 points.
Friday evening’s opener saw Tommy Larkins get one over on a fancied Loughrea side as they finished a close contest the stronger to win by 1-16 to 0-15 in group one. Cappataggle, with Niall Collins among the goalscorers, had far too much firepower for Tynagh Abbey/Duniry on Saturday evening.
There were two very close games in group two as Turloughmore edged out Liam Mellows by 1-18 to 1-16 in Pearse Stadium, with Barry Callanan marking his senior debut with a fine first-half goal for the winners. Tadgh Haran gave Mellows hope after the break with a well-struck penalty, but Conor Walsh’s excellent free-taking got Turlough off to a flyer.
On Sunday at the same venue, Clarinbridge hit the last five scores of their match against Oranmore-Maree, but it was too little too late as they came up one short against the 2019 All-Ireland Intermediate club champions, who continue their impressive form under Gerry McInerney.
In Senior B, Ballinderreen got up and running in group one with three points to spare over newly promoted Kinvara, while the postponed game between Craughwell and Gort is due to take place this evening (Thursday ) at 7pm in Kenny Park.
The only draw of the weekend happened on Saturday in group two, where Athenry and Beagh finished 1-16 to 0-19 after a game that had plenty of twists and turns. The evergreen Gantley brothers, Rory and Joe, were to the fore for Beagh, while Cian Burke drove in Athenry’s goal.
Elsewhere in that group, three points on the trot in injury time gave Killimordaly a 1-16 to 2-10 win over Ardrahan in Kenny Park. In group three Ahascragh Fohenagh had a relatively comfortable five-point win over Padraig Pearses while Mullagh hammered Kilnadeema-Leitrim.