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Brilliant Borris-Ileigh see off St Thomas in thriller to clinch Croker decider with Ballyhale

They’re the first Tipperary club in 26 years to reach the senior hurling final.

Borris-Ileigh’s Brendan Maher celebrates after the game.
Borris-Ileigh’s Brendan Maher celebrates after the game.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Borris-Ileigh (Tipperary)  1-21
St Thomas (Galway) 1-14

John Fallon reports from Gaelic Grounds

BRENDAN MAHER LED the way as Borris-Ileigh set up an All-Ireland SHC final date with Henry Shefflin’s Ballyhale Shamrocks after a thrilling win at LIT Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

The Tipperary champions were good value for their win as St Thomas were left to rue some wayward shooting which ended their hopes of setting up a revenge All-Ireland final against the Kilkenny champions who defeated them earlier this year.

The sides were level four times in the opening half but Borris-Ileigh went in leading by 0-11 to 1-6 at the end of an entertaining opening half.

Brendan Maher led the Borris-Ileigh challenge superbly and hit five of their points in the opening half, four of them from placed balls, while he also made a huge contribution from open play.

Their response to a fine St Thomas’ goal after 10 minutes was superb and they hit the next three points to edge ahead by 0-6 to 1-2 at the end of the opening quarter.

Two early points from Bernard Burke and Conor Cooney were cancelled out by efforts from Maher and Jerry Kelly before Conor Kenny edge the Tipp champions in front for the first time after seven minutes.

But then a superb lay-off from Fintan Burke following a delivery from Darragh Burke set up Eanna Burke and he rifled the ball into the top right corner.

Moments later Eanna Burke flashed a shot across the goal but Borris-Ileigh hit back and efforts from Kevin Maher and a two from more from Brendan Maher edged them in front.

Darragh Burke and Conor Cooney found the range to restore St Thomas’ lead but Borris-Ileigh hit back and outscored the Galway champions by five points to two to lead 0-11 to 1-6 at the break.

Points from Darragh and Bernard Burke were nullified by efforts from Kevin and Brendan Maher before St Thomas hit the next three points from Shane Cooney and two from Darragh Burke to lead by 1-11 to 0-13 after 41 minutes.

But Borris-Ileigh responded with the next three from Brendan, Kieran and Kevin Maher to take a 0-16 to 1-11 lead into the final quarter as the crowd of 4,192 braced themselves for a tight finish.

Kevin Maher and Conor Kenny turned over balls to extend that lead to four before Conor Cooney reduced the margin to a goal with seven minutes left.

Another free from Brendan Maher put four between but points from Darragh and David Burke cut the gap to two going into stoppage time but Brendan Maher pointed a free and then added the insurance point from the left even though his hurley was broken.

And James Devaney wrapped up the win in style when he soloed through to fire home a goal in the third minute of stoppage time as St Thomas’ were left to regret 15 wides.

Scorers for Borris-Ileigh: Brendan Maher 0-10 (0-6f, 0-2 65), Kevin Maher 0-5 (0-3f), James Devaney 1-1, Conor Kenny 0-3, Jerry Kelly 0-1, Kieran Maher 0-1.

Scorers for St Thomas’: Darragh Burke 0-5 (0-4f), Éanna Burke 1-0, Conor Cooney 0-3, Bernard Burke 0-2, Oisín Flannery 0-1, James Regan 0-1, Shane Cooney 0-1, David Burke 0-1.

Borris-Ileigh 

1. James McCormack

2. Séamus Burke
3. Paddy Stapleton
4. Liam Ryan

5. Seán McCormack
6. Brendan Maher
7. Ray McCormack

8. Tommy Ryan
9. Dan McCormack

12. Conor Kenny
11. Niall Kenny
15. James Devaney

13. Kevin Maher
14. Jerry Kelly
10. Kieran Maher

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Substitutes:
18. Jack Hogan for N Kenny (57)
19. Ciarán Cowan for Kelly (60).

St Thomas:

1. James Barrett

2. Cian Mahoney
3. Seán Skehill
7. David Sherry

5. Donal Cooney
6. Shane Cooney
4. Cathal Burke

8. James Regan
9. David Burke

14. Conor Cooney
11. Darragh Burke
10. Fintan Burke

15. Oisín Flannery
13. Éanna Burke
12. Bernard Burke

Substitutes:
None.

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).

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About the author:

John Fallon

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