Burke shines for St Thomas’ against injury-hit Portumna

St Thomas' Bernard Burke breaking away from Portumna's Kevin Hayes during Sunday's championship clash at Kenny Park

ST THOMAS’ 1-21

PORTUMNA 1-14

ST Thomas’ quest for back-to-back county titles received a real shot in the arm with a crucial victory over perennial challengers and former champions Portumna.

Thomas’ were under pressure for a win to ensure a place in the knock-out stages would be firmly in their own hands going into the last round of group games.

Galway senior panellist Eanna Burke was in inspired form throughout, landing 1-6 from play, to help aid his side to really put an understrength Portumna side to the sword.

There isn’t a team in the country who wouldn’t miss a player of the calibre of Joe Canning, who didn’t feature in this clash after picking up a knee injury in Galway’s Leinster final victory over Wexford. But when its also coupled with the absence of centre-back Martin Dolphin, it meant Portumna faced a real uphill battle.

Their problems were further compounded by the loss of veteran Ollie Canning to injury in the first half, but the game already appeared to be out of their grasp even at this early stage.

In truth, the Peterswell and Kilchreest outfit didn’t need to be anywhere near their best. They never fell behind during the 60 minutes and they rarely got out of second gear as they eased to victory.

Seven of Portumna’s 2008 All-Ireland winning side started this game and despite brief glimpses of their quality from the likes of Andy Smith and Kevin Hayes, it appears time may be finally catching up with one of greatest club sides ever seen.

The Thomas’ defence held Portumna to just six scores from play in a thoroughly impressive display from a watertight rearguard leaving the opposition to be overly reliant on the accuracy from placed balls of Ronan O’Meara and Smith.

It was man of the match Eanna Burke who opened the scoring for his side and he doubled his tally minutes later with a superb score from 45 yards out, right on the sideline, after Conor Cooney had also landed a pointed free in the opening exchanges.

 

Full report in this week’s Connacht Tribune