Ruth gives Thurles a shot at redemption
MUNSTER SHC SEMI-FINAL Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) 2-20 Sarsfields (Cork) 2-15:Two years after losing in their first AIB Munster club hurling final appearance, Thurles Sarsfields have a shot at redemption.
Again, De La Salle of Waterford will provide the opposition and Sarsfields believe they have some unfinished business to attend to.
At Semple Stadium yesterday, they did just about enough, edging out their Cork namesakes by five points in a gripping semi-final.
The hosts won courtesy of a goal from substitute Richie Ruth in the first minute of stoppage time, after Cork’s Sarsfields had come from six points down to draw level in the final minute.
When Johnny Enright banged over a 48th minute point, Thurles led by 1-17 to 1-11 and looked on course for a comfortable win. But within a minute, Wexford’s Eoin Quigley scored his second goal for Sarsfields and it was a strike that started a spirited revival.
Sarsfields went on to dominate down the home straight and they looked to have secured extra-time at least when Cian McCarthy, son of former Cork dual star Teddy, scored his seventh and eighth points of the game, both from frees.
But Thurles had come through a dog-fight in Kilmallock at the quarter-final stage and that experience appears to have steeled them.
Michael Cahill’s late foray into enemy territory saw the Tipperary defender pop a handpass to Ruth, who made no mistake with a clinical strike into the far corner.
Aidan McCormack, man of the match in the county final, hit his fifth point from play before 35-year-old Johnny Enright, fittingly, had the final say with his fourth point.
And so Thurles, inspired by seven points from Pa Bourke, escaped with a flattering five-point victory in front of 2,934 spectators.
At half-time, Thurles led by 1-11 to 1-8 following a hugely entertaining first half. Sarsfields led by 0-3 to 0-2 before Lar Corbett scored a brilliant goal in the seventh minute. Corbett fetched an Enright clearance at midfield and ran a straight line some 60 yards through the heart of the Sarsfields defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot.
Sarsfields hit back themselves with a goal in the 12th minute, finished at the second attempt by Quigley.
It appeared that Sarsfields had weathered the storm when McCarthy and Gavin O’Loughlin popped over points for the Cork champions, to open up a 1-6 to 1-4 lead after 17 minutes.
But they didn’t score again for 14 minutes and, in that time, Thurles reeled off seven unanswered points to establish a five point advantage, 1-11 to 1-6. Bourke and McCormack were finding space to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Sarsfields ended their barren period with a McCarthy 65 in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the half before Quigley added a point to keep his side in touch.
THURLES SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; S Maher, K O’Gorman, David Maher; D Kennedy, P Maher, M Cahill; M Gleeson (0-1), J Enright (0-4, three frees); P Bourke (0-7, two frees), J Corbett, L Corbett (1-1); M O’Brien (0-1), Denis Maher, A McCormack (0-5). Subs: R Ruth (1-0) for J Corbett (41 mins), J Maher for Gleeson (inj, 41), G O’Grady (0-1) for J Maher (51), S Cahill for O’Brien (60+3).
SARSFIELDS: A Kennedy; D Kenneally, J Barry, C O’Sullivan; D Kearney, R Ryan, C Leahy; T Óg Murphy (0-1), E Quigley (2-1); G O’Loughlin (0-2), R Murphy (0-2), D Roche (0-1); R O’Driscoll, M Cussen, C McCarthy (0-8, six frees, one 65). Subs: E O’Sullivan for D Kearney (half-time), K Murphy for O’Driscoll (38 mins), G O’Kelly-Lynch for Leahy (53 mins), W Kearney for R Murphy (58 mins).
Referee: M Wadding (Waterford).