ST THOMAS BECAME the first new senior hurling champions in Galway yesterday since Portumna in 2003.
St Thomas, a small club based between Loughrea and Gort, claimed their maiden county senior title with a 3-11 to 2-11 victory over Loughrea in Pearse Stadium.
They now advance to an All-Ireland club semi-final meeting with Antrim’s Loughgiel Shamrocks, the reigning All-Ireland champions, next February.
There was also history made in O’Connor Park in Tullamore with Offaly’s Kilcormac-Killoughey defeating Laois side Rathdowney-Errill to reach their first ever Leinster club SHC decider.
Galway SHC final
St Thomas 3-11 Loughrea 2-11
St Thomas tasted glory in their first ever Galway senior hurling final against Loughrea by three points in Pearse Stadium. The club, which draws its players from Peterswell and Kilchreest, were able to call on members of the Tribesmen’s senior squad that reached last September’s All-Ireland final.
David Burke, Conor Cooney and James Regan notched 0-7 between them while 2011 All-Irealnd U21 winner Bernard Burke shot 0-3 for the club of Galway senior boss Anthony Cunningham.
But it was the experienced Richie Murray, who captained Galway to the 2000 All-Ireland minor title and also lined out for the county in the 2005 All-Ireland senior title, who was the hero as he raised three green flags.
Murray fired home two goals in the first-half to push St Thomas into a 2-6 to 1-4 lead with Johnny Maher finding the net in response for Loughrea. A 39th minute goal from Murray extended the St Thomas advantage to nine points, 3-9 to 1-6.
Loughrea did mount a response through the point-taking of Neil Keary and another goal by Maher. However St Thomas held on to continue Loughrea’s luckless streak in finals as they have now lost five of the last ten deciders with their 2006 triumph being the exception to their record.
The victory was a special one for the Burke family with six sons of team manager John on the pitch by the final whistle. Kenneth (28), Sean (25), David (22), Cathal (20) and Darragh (19) all started the match with 17 year-old Eanna coming on as a substitute with ten minutes remaining.
Cathal Burke of St Thomas is congratulated by Galway Hurling manager Anthony Cunningham. Pic: INPHO/Mike Shaughnessy
Leinster club SHC semi-final
Kilcormac-Killoughey (Offaly) 2-12
Rathdowney-Errill (Laois) 0-14
Kilcormac-Killoughey came from behind to reach their first ever Leinster club hurling final with a four-point win over Laois champions Rathdowney-Errill in Tullamore yesterday.
Liam Tynan hit a point to put Rathdowney-Errill into a 0-13 to 1-6 lead entering the final quarter before then Kilcormac-Killoughey took over as they outscored their opponents by 1-6 to 0-1 in the closing stages.
Kilcormac-Killoughey had drawn level at 1-10 to 0-13 before Peter Geraghty fired home their vital second goal. They closed the game out from there with Ciaran Slevin again their chief scoretaker as his accuracy from placed balls enabled him to chalk up six points.
The teams were level at the interval, 1-5 to 0-8, with Daniel Currams striking home Kilcormac-Killoughey’s goal. Rathdowney-Errill dominated the third quarter with Ross King, who notched 0-7 overall, John Purcell and Tynan all to the fore in attack.
Yet Kilcormac-Killoughey’s powerful late surge pushed them into a final on December 2nd against either Ballyhale Shamrocks or Oulart-the-Ballagh who face off next Sunday.
Kilcormac-Killoughey’s Peter Healion and Alan McConville celebrate after the final whistle. Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan