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Ahascragh/Fohenagh finally make the breakthrough

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Ahascragh/Fohenagh     2-15

Ballinderreen     0-8

ALL good things come to those who wait and that was certainly the case for Ahascragh/Fohenagh who, having lost county intermediate hurling finals in 2012 and 2014, finally secured the Mick Sylver Cup at the third time of asking with victory over Ballinderreen at Kenny Park, Athenry on Sunday.

By far the better team, the victors had led by 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time but still it took goals from Galway forward Cathal Mannion, a penalty, and Eoghain Delaney, a fortunate effort, on 42 and 56 minutes respectively to break the challenge of a plucky Ballinderreen.

From the outset, you got the sense that Ahascragh/Fohenagh were not going to let another opportunity slip and once Willie Dilleen’s outfit took the lead on seven minutes, after both sides had traded scores in the opening exchanges, they never really looked back.

In all, Ahascragh/Fohenagh had eight different scorers on the day, with Delaney and Mannion finishing with 1-3 apiece, while Ballinderreen, for their part, had just three players who found the target.

It was never going to be enough and this lack of cutting edge, creativity and rhythm, which had seen Ballinderreen dispense of the likes of Kilconieron, Rahoon/Newcastle and Kinvara earlier in the championship, was to cost them dearly.

Consequently, Ballinderreen just couldn’t conjure up the scores to produce a match-winning tally against a Ahascragh/Fohenagh side that flooded their defence with bodies to great effect any time Ballinderreen threatened.

In addition, Ahascragh/Fohenagh had also the experience of playing in those previous finals and this definitely stood to them as they looked totally at ease in their county final surroundings. They did not have to play the occasion as Ballinderreen did.

As contests go, though, this was by no means a classic. For one, a great deal of possession was turned over cheaply by both sides while, secondly, the standard of shooting, especially from placed balls, was not what you would have expected from two teams vying to go senior next year.

While the swirling wind around Kenny Park may have contributed to the probloem, the free-taking, at times, was an abomination. For Ahascragh/Fohenagh, Stephen Smyth and Cathal Mannion had some bad misses while Ballinderreen, in the second half, spurned relatively easy chances from placed balls through Kevin Lane and Shane Coen.

Those were to prove costly for Ballinderreen as they came at a time when they could have given themselves a lifeline. Already, Lane had converted a free on 32 minutes to reduce the gap to five but over the ensuing minutes he, along with Coen, missed chances from frees which, had they been converted, may have planted a seed of doubt in their opponents.

Full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune

Collins comes to Cappy’s rescue in absorbing clash

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Tommy Larkins' Keith Dervan is chased by Liam Collins of Cappataggle during Sunday's Senior A clash in Loughrea. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Tommy Larkins 1-18

Cappataggle 0-21

 By Mike Rafferty in Loughrea

RONAN Murphy provided the inspiration as Tommy Larkins got the outcome they required as their second place finish to Senior A Group 2 winners Loughrea sees them advance to the quarter-final draw of the hurling championship.

For Cappataggle, there was huge disappointment of not getting the required win that would have seen them advance directly to the knock out stages, but they have the compensation of a place in the preliminary draw.

This was a titanic battle. The hurling was fast and direct at times, but much to the annoyance of some in attendance the short puck out was used productively at both ends as the sides tried the short passing game from the back.

Without a doubt Tommy Larkins laid down the quickest foundations and only for some erratic shooting would have been more that five points ahead at the break. They probably never got an opportunity to build on the Jason Flynn goal that arrived on 29 minutes, but once the sides came out for the restart it was all Cappataggle as they tore into the opposition and had made enough ground to take the lead at the end of the third quarter.

From there to the end, it was nip and tuck as Ronan Murphy and Cian Duggan at one end and Liam Collins and Niall Collins at the other, struck over some wonderful scores to edge matters one way and then the other. Indeed, it took a late pointed free by Collins to secure the draw for Cappataggle and they were lucky to leave with even a point as Murphy, in a rare error, fluffed his lines when putting a late free wide to leave matter finishing on level terms.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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A remarkable rally sees St Thomas’ reel in the ’Bridge

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Clarinbridge's Conor Lee tries to shake off the attentions of St Thomas' Victor Manso during Saturday's Senior A Group tie at Kenny Park. Photos: David Cunniffe.

St. Thomas’ 4-20

Clarinbridge 4-17

DARREN KELLY AT KENNY PARK

NOTHING at ‘stake’ but pride and last year’s two senior hurling championship finalists had plenty of that on Saturday as St. Thomas and Clarinbridge served up a thriller in their final group game.

Both teams were already guaranteed places in the knockout stages but for the winners, a path straight through to the quarter-finals proper was the reward and they played like that meant everything.

Obviously, neither side wanted to show weakness ahead of a potential showdown later in the year. The contest even had a half-time scuffle that resulted in yellow cards for St. Thomas’ duo John Headd and Conor Cooney.

Despite all that and the changing weather, the hurling was the only item for discussion afterwards. Three first half Clarinbridge goals gave them a 3-10 to 0-11 interval lead.  Four green flags for St. Thomas in the second period reminded the county that they still are the team to beat.

And that was the talking point before throw-in following their 22-match unbeaten streak ending with a heavy defeat to Turloughmore two weeks previously. And it wasn’t looking any better for St. Thomas’ when TJ Brennan struck a second minute goal for Clarinbridge.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Sarsfields shade the verdict again in their spiritual home

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Turloughmore's Mikey Morris is chased by Ian Fox and Mark O'Regan of Sarsfields during Saturday's Senior A encounter at Duggan Park.

Sarsfields 0-18

Turloughmore 0-17

SARSFIELDS don’t lose too many tight matches at their spiritual home of Duggan Park and that trend continued in this slow-burning Senior A hurling championship clash on Saturday.

For three-quarters of the game, however, a close outcome appeared remote as the 2015 champions dictated the terms of engagement and continued to enjoy a healthy lead against wasteful opponents.

Turloughmore bore the gait of a team which still hadn’t come back down to earth after their unexpected trimming of St Thomas’ in the previous round. They lacked cohesion and urgency.

Their approach justified pre-match fears that, with both teams already through to the knock-out stages, this attractive fixture was compromised to some extent.

That backdrop had seemingly less impact on Sarsfields who tend to give their performance regardless of the circumstances. Up until the final quarter, they were relatively untroubled and heading for a comfortable victory.

But just when their supporters were on the brink of giving up on them, Turloughmore finally began to get motoring and despite assembling a crippling total of 17 wides, they had Sarsfields hanging on at the finish. They even had a chance to equalise in injury time only for Tom Quirke’s effort on the turn drifting wide.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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