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Match Report: St. Thomas topple champions   04/11/2012

Winners survive late scare! 

ST. THOMAS 1-16........GORT 1-15

Champions Gort were knocked out today as St. Thomas's finally reach their first ever county final. But it took the Kilchreest / Peterswell club to dig really deep as there was a middle third of the match that they failed to score, but they fought back from 3 points down to lead by 5 points as the match ticked into injury time. They then had to survive a late score from the champions, as a goal and another close miss meant victory was not to be believed until the referee blew for full time.

St. Thomas did start the brighter and after 7 minutes held a 0-4 to 0-1 lead. Conor Cooney opened the scoring from play, but that was quickly responded from the stick of Gort's Ritchie Cummins. Then a trio of scores for St. Thomas had them taking early control as David Burke, Conor Cooney's free and James Regan all hit the target. Gort pulled two back thank to Gerry Quinn (free) and a superb effort by defender Jason Grealish. David Burke scored his second point before Gerry Quinn again responded with another free on the 13th minute.

St. Thomas then struck for two points in a minute as Ritchie Murray and Bernard Burke both raised minors from play. Martin Nestor hit a nice point for Gort to keep them in touch, but Conor Cooney pointed a free on the 21st minute t have his side 0-8 to 0-5 in front. That pointed free was to be his side last score for the next 20 minutes of play, as Gort, like good champions, began to take a bit more control.

First Gerry Quinn slotted over another free on the 23rd minute, and he also struck another on the 28th minute. The last say of the half was from Paul Killilea as he levelled the tie on the stroke of half-time.
Half-time: St. Thomas 0-8; Gort 0-8.

The opening of the second half saw Gort stretch into a 3 point lead as, just like before the interval, two Gerry Quinn frees and another from Paul Killilea saw them take a 0-11 to 0-8 lead. Although Conor Cooney finally broke the St. Thomas famine of scores by pointing from a free, this only cancelled out another fine effort from Jason Grealish as he rifled over his second. The question now with 20 minutes left and three points in arrears was, what were St. Thomas made of? Were they to lie down or get up and fight.

They got up and fought!

In the next 20 minutes they outscored Gort by 1-7 to 0-2. They answered their critics by the best way possible - letting their hurling do the talking. First, four unanswered points gave them the lead as Kenneth Burke, Conor Cooney free, Kenneth Burke again and sub Eanna Burke all hit the target. Gort's Gerry Quinn struck a free to level matters on 20 minutes, but James Regan gave St. Thomas the lead again on the 23rd minute. Then the all-important goal came on the 24th minute as another sub, and another minor, this time Shane Cooney, collected a pass and struck for the green flag. Ritchie Murray made it a 5 point lead with 5 minutes remaining as he hit his second white flag. Two minutes later and Gerry Quinn gave some hope as he shot over a free, but on the stroke of full time Ritchie Murray again scored a point from play. The game was now in injury time and with Gort now 5 points in arrears they badly needed two goals.

They got a first goal two minutes into injury time as Gerry Quinn blasted home a nearby free. This sent the match into a frenzy as they searched a second while St. Thomas battled with their lives to keep the lead and keep the dream alive. Another free was then awarded to Gort on the 21, but this time to the side of the goals. Up stood Gerry Quinn again. The crowd were on their feet. Mouths were open. He lifted the ball. Swung. Shot. Saved!!! And deflected over the bar. All over. St. Thomas had won by the skin of their teeth to reach the clubs first ever County Final.

Great credit to both sides for this hugely entertaining match. They both went at it with great enthusiasm and passion, and played the game in a sporting manner. Gort were great champions in 2011 and represented their county well. They had the better of today;s opponents several times in the near past, and so I'm sure they wont begrudge them this victory.

St. Thomas have been a long time waiting for this County Semi-Final victory, and know the meaning of earning it. They now face other neighbours Loughrea in the County Final in a fortnight's time. They now have two weeks to plan their tactics for that, as you can be dam sure they are not going to rest now that they are in the final.  
What a County Final prospect in store!

Note: Peterswell did bring 7 titles to the parish over 100 years ago - the last being in 1907. I am not old enough to remember them but will try to bring you some memories in the coming weeks.

By the Man with the Cap

In lovely Kenny Park, Sun 4th Nov 2012, at the County Hurling semi-final replay.





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