Superb St Thomas’ hurlers extend reign at the top of Galway club hurling


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Superb St Thomas’ hurlers extend reign at the top of Galway club hurling Superb St Thomas’ hurlers extend reign at the top of Galway club hurling

St Thomas’ 2-12

Turloughmore 1-13

By Pádraic Ó Ciardha at Pearse Stadium

IT won’t go down as a classic but St Thomas’ two-point victory over Turloughmore in this year’s county final is in the history books all the same as the men from Kilchreest, Castledaly and Peterswell made it six Galway senior hurling titles in a row thanks to a dogged victory on Sunday.

There really wasn’t much between the teams at Pearse Stadium and Turlough will feel they left a great opportunity behind them but when the game was there to be won, it was Thomas’ who were able to find that extra gear to get them over the line.

You don’t win five county titles on the trot and seven in the last 11 years without learning a thing or two and St Thomas’ experience of coming out the right side of tight contests was clear for all to see. Their 2018 victory over Liam Mellows was the only time St Thomas’ have really blown away an opponent in a county final so when this one entered the final ten minutes with the sides deadlocked, it was never going to send Kenneth Burke’s men, with a total of 163 senior county medals within their ranks, to panic stations. Instead, they stuck to the plan and trusted it would come good in the end.

It had been no small struggle for St Thomas’ two star forwards, Conor Cooney and Éanna Burke, to get anything going in the first 50 minutes but their impact in the final stages was huge.

Cooney had managed just two points from six shots up to that jucture and having been rightfully lauded for his role in St Thomas’ great success in recent years, the 2023 final looked like it could be one to forget for the captain aiming to lift the Tom Callanan Cup for an unprecedented sixth time.

Oddly enough, his day turned with a 21m free which he actually hit backwards. Forced to work something from an indirect free in the 53rd minute, Cooney cutely picked out his brother Shane back on the 45m line to put St Thomas’ in front again and Conor’s influence only grew from there.

He pucked over a brilliant score from the right-hand sideline in the 60th minute to put St Thomas’ four clear and while Turlough rallied with a couple of points in added-time, Cooney was central to what proved to be the insurance score as he robbed Dara Whelan close to goal before putting Éanna Burke through to seal the win.

Burke produced an unerring finish to the move, his second major of the day having also grabbed the game’s opening goal after 12 minutes. Not only that, but the full-forward picked off two beautiful points for St Thomas’ in those clutch final few minutes and in a game where scores were at a premium, his final total of 2-2 was huge in deciding this one.

Pictured: St Thomas’ Cian Mahony breaking out of defence against Matthew Tarpey of Turloughmore during Sunday’s Galway Senior Hurling Final at Pearse Stadium. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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