Author: John McIntyre
~ 3 minutes read
St Thomas’ 1-23
St Thomas’ won 4-2 on penalties
THE team which hasn’t got the credit it deserved for past achievements has been deservedly getting it in spades this week after an epic and marathon All-Ireland Club hurling semi-final in Portlaoise on Saturday evening.
For the time of year and a sticky playing surface, what was served up in O’Moore Park would take some beating in terms of raw commitment and courage from two teams who were not prepared to take a backwards step in a riveting tussle for supremacy.
A crowd of about 3,000 should ordinarily have had their patience tested by a protracted battle which extended from 7:30pm to just 12 minutes before ten o’clock, but none of the St Thomas’ fans were complaining after watching their team arguably pull off its greatest triumph of all.
Unfulfilled at national level despite their dominance of Galway club hurling over the past decade, St Thomas’ knew they would need a career best to get the better of Ballygunner and stay on course for a second All-Ireland title, and boy were they ready for that challenge.
They tore into the Munster champions physically and never allowed their heads to drop despite the concession of two brilliantly finished opposition goals in the opening ten minutes, a difficult third quarter and their struggles in the first period of extra-time.
Their hearts were beating strong all evening and no amount of adversity compromised their intensity or hunger. At different stages, different players made incalculable contributions, but when it came down to it, two unlikely heroes stepped up to see them through to a third All-Ireland final.
One of them didn’t even start, but it was substitute Evan Duggan who nailed the decisive penalty – he also landed a priceless point in the second period of extra-time – in the shoot-out, while goalkeeper Gerald Kelly denied both Dessie Hutchinson and Billy O’Keeffe with admittedly routine saves.
No wonder, the delirious St Thomas’ supporters stormed onto the pitch afterwards to celebrate with their heroes just over a week out from Christmas. Their team had done Galway hurling proud and silenced once and for all those critics who continue to question their true worth.
After last year’s injury-hit but limp semi-final exit to Dunloy, St Thomas’ were men on a mission in 2023 but still few neutrals gave them much chance – the bookmakers who priced them at an insulting 5/1 gave them none – of coping with a Ballygunner outfit which had again blitzed their way through Munster.
Pictured: St Thomas’ Conor Cooney is about to score a point despite the attentions of Barry Coughlin of Ballygunner during the All-Ireland Club Senior Hurling semi-final in Portlaoise on Saturday evening. Photos: Ben McShane/Sportsfile.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:
Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App
Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.
Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.
Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.
More like this:
A Love Festival is hitting the streets of Galway city from tomorrow, Leap Year Day. Grá Fest will...
Galway West TD Mairead Farrell has introduced a bill in the Dáil aimed at improving an aspect of ...
An Bord Pleanala has approved a housing development in Clifden, that was originally rejected by c...
University of Galway’s Students’ Union President is slamming a private student accomm...
A University of Galway-led study has challenged the “one size fits all” aspirin guide...
Works on the long-awaited new Xray unit in Tuam, worth €1.64m is to be completed by the end of Ma...
Tuam area councillors are being urged to lobby national politicians over the zero allocation of A...
Galway/Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane is defending Sinn Féin’s decision to vote against the EU...