St. Thomas' stay on target for big double in hurlingDecember 6, 2012 - 8:00am
St. Thomas’ 1-10
Alan Dooley in Athenry
WHEN you can call on nine players who recently played a big part in their club’s historic first senior county title win, then it’s easy to see how St. Thomas’ went into this U-21 A semi-final replay as heavy favourites. Thanks to some terrific defensive displays and a second half Colin Fallon goal, they duly justified this tag when overcoming Athenry at Kenny Park on Sunday.
St. Thomas’ march on to their fourth consecutive final at this grade, a remarkable achievement and Cyril Kelly’s side will be eager to seal back-to-back titles to add to the club’s ever-growing roll of honour. The level of performance may have been more workmanlike than dazzling but, given the incessant rain and atrocious underfoot conditions, this was what was required to see them through.
To put in perspective the length of time these sides have had to wait to get reacquainted following the drawn game, St. Thomas’ were three weeks away from embarking on the first challenge on the road to senior glory when the sides met on Easter Monday. The Kilchreest/Peterswell men, though, have become accustomed to U-21 contests late in the year, and from early on it was clear they were adapting to conditions better.
A pre-match pitch inspection plus the spectacle of players splashing through puddles in the warm-ups gave rise to the thought that this game would do well to last the distance if the downpour continued, but thankfully the rain relented midway through and patrons who were asked to pay extra to enter the stand on a wet December Sunday witnessed a decent contest.
Some errant shooting had probably cost St. Thomas’ in the drawn game, but on this occasion they kept the wides to a minimum and were tellingly error free in a defence led magnificently by Cathal Burke, Darragh Burke, and David Sherry. They restricted Athenry to just five scores in 50 minutes before the concession of some late frees made the last few minutes more frantic than they ought to have been for the winners.
Two points were all St. Thomas’ had to show for a dominant opening quarter, as Anthony Kelly opened the scoring before Colin Fallon was denied a shot on goal by a swiftly advancing Athenry ‘keeper Damien Fahy. Conor Cooney burst through soonafter, but batted narrowly wide from close range before the sharpshooter opened his account with a seventh minute free.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.