Cummins’ goal propels Gort into county hurling final

David Forde of Clarinbridge is challenged by Fergal Healy of Craughwell in action from the Coopers Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Kenny Park, Athenry, on Sunday. The game was abandoned at half time due to bad weather. 
					Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

David Forde of Clarinbridge is challenged by Fergal Healy of Craughwell in action from the Coopers Senior Hurling Championship semi-final at Kenny Park, Athenry, on Sunday. The game was abandoned at half time due to bad weather. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

If ever there was a salient argument for playing senior club championship hurling in this county during July and August, it was made on Sunday in a rain-drenched Kenny Park.

By taking an annual sabbatical from championship, for what should in theory be two of the best months of the calendar year weather wise, the hurling board always runs the risk of having a wash-out such as that experienced last weekend.

That “time-out” from championship hurling needs to stop.

In his programme notes on Sunday, county hurling chairman Joe Byrne said the review group looking at hurling in the county is finalising its report.

He also went on to say that the board could “assure the Galway hurling public that we will act on the recommendations and it will improve many aspects of the way we conduct our business”.

Hopefully one of those recommendations will be to cull that lengthy break during the summer. It is not as if the experience has improved the county’s status on the inter-county stage.

Anyway, back to last Sunday’s exceedingly soggy experience.

A group of us stood near the stand in Athenry which was full to capacity long before the first throw-in by wise old owls who knew what was to come. Despite waterproof leggings, and some falsely advertised rain-proof jackets, we all got saturated.

The first to rightly break for the hills just after the second game started outlined his rational. “When the rain gets through your two jackets, through your jumper, through your shirt and hits skin. It is time to bail out.”

Gort had by then qualified on a score-line of 1-11 to 0-10 for their first county final since 2008, when they succumbed by 1-18 to 2-7 to an all-conquering Portumna outfit.

Quinn’s free-taking vital

In such monsoon conditions, free taking was always going to be crucial, and in that regard, Mattie Murphy was well served by the dependable Gerry Quinn who notched 0-7 (6fs ) from wing-forward.

The killing stroke to the St Thomas challenge was supplied by Richie Cummins who got in on the end of an Aidan Harte delivery to rifle past the helpless James Barrett with two minutes of normal time remaining.

Cummins had been lively all through the contest at corner forward and his pace caused considerable trouble for Justin Kelly.

A key score for the Gort men had arrived just before half-time when impressive centre-back Brian Regan scored a tremendous point from distance. They had been out-hurled by St Thomas in many departments in that first half, yet they found themselves one point in front, 0-7 to 0-6.

Corner back Andy Coen also raised an important white flag in the second half from a long distance free to edge his side in front at a critical stage.

Despite the best efforts of impressive wing-back Darragh Burke, who hit four points - three from placed balls - Bernard Burke and Conor Cooney, who scored five points between them, the Gort defence held firm in the second half and excelled in the last quarter and in the nine minutes of injury time that was added on by referee Christy Browne.

St Thomas tried might and main in the dying minutes to breach the resolute Gort defence for the goal that would give them another day out. It was not to be and, when Gort veteran Ollie Fahy drove over a fine point from a ground stroke, there was no fairytale ending for the youthful lads from Peterswell and Kilchreest and their management team of John Burke, Jimmy Kelly and Justin Flannery.

They have enjoyed a productive season reaching their first semi-final since 1989, but it is over now.

Gort will believe they are on the cusp of something special. They are now only 60 minutes away from annexing the Tom Callanan Cup for the first time since 1983.

Gort: Peter Cummins, Andy Coen 0-1 (1f ) , Mark McMahon, Michael Cummins, Greg Lally, Brian Regan 0-1, Jason Grealish, Sean Forde, Sylvie Óg Linnane, Gerry Quinn 0-7 (6fs ), Aiden Harte, Paul Killilea, Richie Cummins 1-0, Ollie Fahy 0-1, Ger O’Donoghue 0-1. Subs: K Killilea for Forde (43 ), M Nestor for O’Donoghue (45 ), A Mullins for Quinn (59 ), T Linnane for M Cummins (65 ).

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