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Corner-back pops up for late winner as St Thomas' squeeze past underdogs Cushendall

David Sherry landed the crucial score in the 65th minute.

Bernard Burke with Neil McManus.
Bernard Burke with Neil McManus.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

St Thomas’ 0-18

Ruairi Og Cushendall 2-11

Kevin O’Brien reports from Parnell Park

ST THOMAS’ NEEDED a stoppage-time winner from corner-back David Sherry to seal a place in their first All-Ireland club SHC final since 2013. 

It was a score reminiscent of Domhnall O’Donovan’s equaliser for Clare in drawn the All-Ireland hurling final the same year.

Sherry spent most of the afternoon in the full-back line before he was sent forward for the final few minutes by manager Kevin Lally. Extra-time was looming with the sides deadlocked when he landed the stunning score from the flank to hand a narrow victory to the Galway kingpins.

Cushendall had a late chance to level the game but Donal McNaughton opted to shoot for goal and his strike was cleared off the line by Cian Mahony. It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Antrim side after they overturned an eight-point deficit to pull level in the final ten minutes.

Cushendall were bidding for just their second win at this stage in ten attempts and they came mightly close to advancing to the decider.

The reward for St Thomas’ is a St Patrick’s Day meeting in Croke Park with the winners of today’s Ballygunner and Ballyhale clash.

There are seven survivors on their starting team from the side that lifted their maiden Tomy Murphy Cup five years ago.

They have former Limerick manager TJ Ryan as part of Lally’s backroom team since August and he helped steer the cub to their third Galway senior title in six seasons in November.

Cushendall set-up with seven defenders, withdrawing Alex Delargy into the sweeper role against a front breeze in the first period. That left St Thomas’ corner-back Sherry as the spare man in the full-back line at the far end. 

Cushendall had the post possibly start through McManus’s goaled penalty in the fourth minute. But he went on to miss three scoreable frees in a half where the Antrim champions didn’t trouble the scoreboard from play until the 25th minute. 

Darragh Burke celebrates scoring a point Darragh Burke celebrates scoring a point. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

St Thomas’ slowly clicked through the gears. By the end of the first-half, their attack was motoring nicely. Bernard Burke clipped over a brace from play, in addition to four frees from Darragh Burke and one piece from each of their midfielders.

It left them 0-13 to 1-3 ahead at the interval and appearing as though they had one foot in the final. But Cushendall raised a gallop in the third quarter and posted 1-3 within 11 minutes of the restart. 

Their second goal arrived after a deft flick from half-time substitute Conor Carson into the run of Fergus McCambridge, who buried it past Gerald Murray.

Paddy McGill fired over two big scores either side of one from McCambridge to draw the Ulster side level with ten minutes left to play.

St Thomas’ moved two in front after efforts from Darragh Burke and James Regan, but McManus pulled his team back on level terms with a pair of placed balls. In a nervy finish, Sherry popped up with the winning score from the wing.

Scorers for St Thomas’: Darragh Burke 0-6 (0-4f), Eanna Burke 0-3, Bernard Burke and James Regan 0-2 each, Damien McGlynn, Conor Cooney, Shane Cooney (0-1f), David Burke, Kenneth Burke and David Sherry 0-1 each.

Scorers for Cushendall: Neil McManus 1-6 (1-0 pen, 0-4f, 0-2 65), Fergus McCambridge 1-1, Paddy McGill 0-2, Eoghan Campbell and Sean McAfee 0-1 each.

St Thomas’

1. Gerald Murray

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2. Cian Mahoney
3. Cathal Burke

4. David Sherry

5. Donal Cooney
6. Shane Cooney
7. Fintan Burke

9. David Burke
8. James Regan

14. Conor Cooney
10. Darragh Burke
12. Bernard Burke

11. Eanna Burke

13. Brendan Farrell
15. Kenneth Burke

Subs

17. Damien McGlynn for Kenneth Burke (37)
21. Sean Skehill for Farrell (58)

Cushendall

1. Eoin Gillan

4. Sean Delargy
3. Martin Burke
2. David Kearney

15. Alex Delargy

5. Eoghan Campbell
6. Aaron Graffin
7. Paddy Burke 

8. Fergus McCambridge 
9. Neil McManus

12. Ryan McCambridge 
11. Eunan McKillop
10. Donal McNaughton

13. Paddy McGill
14. Sean McAfee

Subs:

20. Conor Carson for Ryan McCambridge (ht) 
19. Stephen Walsh for Sean Delargy (54)

Referee: Paud O’Dwyer (Carlow).

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien

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