St Thomas advance to first county final

Falling champions:  Michael Cummins of Gort comes under pressure from Shane Cooney of St Thomas  in the senior hurling championship semi-final replay at Kenny Park on Sunday. 			Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

Falling champions: Michael Cummins of Gort comes under pressure from Shane Cooney of St Thomas in the senior hurling championship semi-final replay at Kenny Park on Sunday. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy

It may have taken them a while, but last Sunday in Kenny Park the young guns of St Thomas, who stood up and were counted at key times, were rewarded with a one-point victory (1-16 to 1-15 ) over gallant county champions Gort.

St Thomas will now face Loughrea on Sunday November 18 at Pearse Stadium in the club's first senior hurling county final. They will be keen to ensure it is not a losing debut.

St Thomas were out of the blocks early last weekend and timely points from Conor Cooney, David Burke and James Regan settled and gave them an early foothold in the tie.

More scores from Ritchie Murray and Bernard Burke pushed them into an 0-8 to 0-5 lead, but they subsequently lost their way and did not raise a flag for more than minutes, which let Gort get a foothold in the game and go three to the good early in the second half.

Such a scoring drought would probably be fatal in the final against such an organised, battle hardened, and experienced outfit as Loughrea.

By half time last Sunday, Gort had levelled the game with scores from Gerry Quinn and Paul Killilea. Things looked ominous for the Kilchreest /Peterswell club when Quinn and Killilea pushed them three ahead early in the second half.

However, driven by a superb display by 2012 All-Star David Burke around the middle, St Thomas hit 1-7 to 0-2 without reply to leave them within touching distance of a day out in Pearse Stadium.

It was a fabulous goal from county minor Shane Cooney, who was set up by young Enda Burke, that helped St Thomas to see off the Gort men.

Cooney's superbly taken goal was preceded by a James Regan point and the green flag gave them a four-point lead and the confidence to believe they could finish the job.

When St Thomas led by five points going into injury time, they looked home and hosed. However, Gort had a kick in them, and they fought back with Gerry Quinn firing a 20 metre free to the net in the second minute of stoppage time.

Indeed Gort almost snatched an unlikely victory deep into injury time when another Quinn free was deflected over the bar in a crowded goalmouth.

So the county champions are out and there may be a new name on the Tom Callanan Cup in two weeks’ time.

Peterswell did win the county senior hurling championship back in 1907 (they won seven titles between 1889 and 1907 ), and St Thomas are only 60 minutes from writing their own history now.

St Thomas: P Skehill, C Burke, R Murray, S Burke, E Tannion, S Skehill, Darragh Burke, K Burke (0-2 ), David Burke (0-2 ), J Regan (0-2 ), C Cooney (0-5, 4fs ), B Burke (0-1 ), G Murray, R Murray (0-3 ), A Kelly. Subs: S Cooney (1-0 ) for G Murray, E Burke (0-1 ) for Kelly.

Gort: P Cummins; C Helebert, M McMahon, M Cummins; J Grealish (0-2 ), B Regan, S Óg Linnane; G Lally, A Harte; G Quinn (1-9, all frees ), P Killilea (0-2 ), M Nestor (0-1 ); R Cummins (0-1 ), O Fahy, G O’Donoghue. Subs: A Mullins for Fahy, K Killilea for O’Donoghue.

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