Thurles Sarsfields claim fourth straight county crown
Impressive Sars have far too much firepower for poor Borris-Ileigh at Semple Stadium
Thurles Sarsfields captain Pádraic Maher challenges Borris-Ileigh’s Niall Kenny during the Tipperary SHC Final at Semple Stadium. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Thurles Sarsfields 1-24 Borris-Ileigh 0-11
Thurles Sarsfields cruised to a fourth successive Tipperary SHC crown at Semple Stadium on Sunday.
The Blues had 16 points to spare against neighbours Borris-Ileigh in front of a big attendance of 8,376.
Sars were too good, particularly in the second half when they outscored Borris by 1-13 to 0-4.
Conor Stakelum’s goal midway through the half killed this final stone dead, after Borris had been just four points behind at the break, 0-7 to 0-11.
Stakelum had a goal disallowed and forced a fine save from Jack Bourke before finally breaking through.
It was an avoidable concession from a Borris viewpoint as Bourke attempted to stop Stephen Cahill’s effort from sailing over the bar.
But he could only bat the sliotar into the grateful path of Stakelum, who made no mistake into an empty net from close range.
From there until the finish, it was a procession for Sars, who became the first club in Tipperary since Toomevara (1998-2001) to win four-in-a-row.
It’s a 36th Dan Breen Cup win for Sars, who enjoyed a five-in-a-row success in the 1960s, before going from 1974-2005 without tasting success.
The quest for Sars now is to translate dominance within their own county borders to the Munster stage.
Sars have won eight of the last 13 Tipperary titles but won the Munster championship just the once in that time.
They’ll face the Waterford champions on October 29th but it won’t be a simple task on Déise soil.
This was a first final appearance for Borris-Ileigh since 1988 but their big day ended in disappointment.
Dan McCormack hit three points from play, while Liam Ryan hit a brace from wing back, but Sars had too much firepower.
They were seven points clear three times in the opening half before Borris, who’d endured a barren 18-minute spell, hit three on the spin approaching the break.
Any faint hopes of a revival were extinguished early in the second half, however, as Sars claimed the opening three points to ease clear again.
With the Maher brothers, captain Pádraic and Ronan, lording it in defence, Borris found scores hard to come by, with their full-forward line finishing scoreless.
And after Stakelum’s goal, a sense of inevitability descended upon Semple Stadium, as Sars more than justified their status are red-hot pre-match favourites.
The general mood in the Sars camp at full-time was one of quiet satisfaction but deep down, players and team management will now feel that there are bigger fish to fry.
With past and current county players in various grades sited in each line of the field, Sars are viewed as one of the great under-achievers on the provincial and All-Ireland stages, considering the high-calibre of individuals at their disposal.
Down the home straight, Sars could afford the luxury of emptying their bench and they now have three weeks to get right for another venture into the province.
THURLES SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; M Cahill, R Maher (0-1), S Maher; C Moloney, P Maher (0-1), S Lillis; J Maher, S Cahill (0-1); D Maher (0-3), B McCarthy (0-3), A McCormack (0-9, six frees, one 65); C Stakelum (1-2), P Bourke (0-2), L Corbett (0-2).
Subs: M O’Brien for Bourke (38 mins), T Doyle for Stakelum (temp 50-51 mins), T Doyle for Denis Maher (52 mins), R Dwan for S Maher (59 mins), C Lanigan for Stakelum (59 mins), R Purcell for Moloney (60+3 mins).
BORRIS-ILEIGH: J Bourke; T Fahy, C Cowan, M Stapleton; P Stapleton, B Maher (0-5, all frees), S Burke; L Ryan (0-2), S McCormack; N Kenny, D McCormack (0-3), K Maher (0-1); J Hogan, C Kenny, J Kelly.
Subs: J Harkin for M Stapleton (16 mins), K Ryan for Hogan (49 mins), V Stapleton for K Maher (55 mins), M Ryan for Fahy (59 mins).
Referee: F Horgan (Knockavilla Donaskeigh Kickhams)