St Thomas’ scrape past a sterling Sarsfields Challenge

St Thomas' David Burke tussling for possession with Sarsfields' Niall Morrissey during Sunday's senior hurling semi final at Kenny Park. Photos: Brian Harding.
St Thomas' David Burke tussling for possession with Sarsfields' Niall Morrissey during Sunday's senior hurling semi final at Kenny Park. Photos: Brian Harding.

St Thomas’ 2-19

Sarsfields 0-20

IN the battle of the 2015 vs 2016 county champions, Brendan Farrell’s injury-time goal secured St Thomas’ passage to hurling’s showpiece occasion after a high-quality duel against Sarsfields at Kenny Park on Sunday.

With little or nothing to separate the sides throughout, it was Farrell’s goal which eventually shook off the Sarsfields resistance following a hugely entertaining, tit-for-tat clash between two excellent sides.

It was no more than St Thomas’ deserved given that they were the team in the ascendency for much of the second half despite trailing by one point at the break.

Sarsfields battled and fought back to level up the tie four times in the second period, but three points on the spin between the 50th and 52nd minutes, two by Darragh Burke (one free) and another by younger brother Eanna, who was outstanding in the second half, built a 1-17 to 0-17 lead which Sarsfields couldn’t reel in.

Sarsfields were the better side for the majority of the first half, playing a splendid brand of hurling despite playing with a man extra at the back in Joseph Cooney, with Niall Morrissey assigned the role of shadowing David Burke for the afternoon.

Despite playing with only five in attack, the precision of their deliveries and pace at which they ran at the St Thomas’ defence ensured they still posed major problems for the opposition rearguard, with Kevin Cooney in particular, excellent in that opening half.

St Thomas’ were sloppy and struggled in attack where the inside duo of Brendan Farrell and Damien McGlynn were starved of quality ball, with Joseph Cooney mopping up any loose passes forward.

Darragh Burke handed St Thomas’ the early initiative with the opening score of the game from a placed ball but the next five points would all belong to the Bullaun/New Inn side who dominated proceedings early on.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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