St. Mary's Gearóid Buckley is chased by Bill Maher (Kilsheelan/Kilcash) during the County IHC Quarter-Final played at Monroe today. (Photo: Michael Boland)
County Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Championship Quarter-Final:
ST. MARY’S (Clonmel) 1-15 0-14 KILSHEELAN/KILCASH
St. Mary’s advanced to the last four of the County Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Championship following a hard-earned win over Kilsheelan/Kilcash at Monroe on Sunday afternoon.
The Clonmel side were raging hot favourites going into this game having comprehensively won their three previous knock-out games in recent weeks by an average of 16 points, including a 0-28 to 0-7 victory Kilsheelan/Kilcash in the South semi-final. However, this time round Kisheelan were far more formidable and put the recently-crowned South champions to the pin of their collars before Michael Ryan’s side emerged the much-relieved four points winners.
Just four days after their demolition job on Moyle Rovers (4-13 to 0-9) on Wednesday night under the lights at Dr. Tom Morris Park in Thurles, ‘The Marys’ were back in action at lunchtime Sunday on a glorious day for hurling. Forced to start without the injured Gavin Ryan and Eric Walsh, the Clonmel side still had the better opening edging 0-3 to 0-0 ahead after six minutes. Two early Sean Kennedy frees were followed by a Dean Fitzgerald point when the corner forward cut in along the end line to score, and the Clonmel boys were on their way.
On the quarter-hour St. Mary’s were 0-5 to 0-1 up, with Kilsheelan’s only score coming from a Mark Kehoe free, which was followed by points from Darren Cass (would have been a goal but for Alex Harte’s deflection) and another from Gearóid Buckley on the run from 30 metres out.
It took Kilsheelan all of 19 minutes to register their first point from play when Brendan Martin finished a pass from Mark Kehoe to make it 0-6 to 0-3; before that Seamus Kennedy and Kehoe traded frees.
Gearóid Buckley with his second point (this one from 40 metres) extended the lead to four, before another of St. Mary’s best on the day, Richie Gunne, had his first point in the 23rd minute following a strong run.
Mark Kehoe, who would be responsible for all bar two of Kilsheelan scores, hit a superb point from the sideline two minutes later, and when he followed this with his fourth free of the day shortly afterwards there were now just two points between the sides after 25 minutes of play. This Kilsheelan/Kilcash challenge was unrecognisable from the tame 21-points defeat in the divisional semi-final a month earlier.
Richie Gunne hit another fine point off his hurl on the run from 40 metres to settle the town side again, before the game took a huge turn.
A long delivery from centre-back Ross Peters was superbly won in the air by Darren Cass and his neat hand pass set up Dean Fitzgerald who found the net. This well-finished goal by the former Carrick Swan player was the game’s decisive score and suddenly St. Mary’s were six points to the good.
Two further points followed in time added-on, a Mark Kehoe free from inside his own 65 was cancelled by a Dean Fitzgerald point, but Kilsheelan could feel disappointed as to what looked a foul on their keeper Alex Harte going unpunished in the run up the the Marys score.
After the break a rousing third quarter saw Kilsheelan take the challenge to the favourites and by the 47th minute they had the deficit back to three points at 1-12 to 0-12.
Two early placed balls by Mark Kehoe, one a 65, were responded to by a Sean Kennedy free and by Richie Gunne’s third point, the midfielder perhaps should have netted.
Mark Kehoe (Kilsheelan/Kilsheelan) put in a man of the match performance with 0-12 for his side today. He is seen here being chased by St. Mary's Darren Cass (20) and Richie Gunne.
But the next three points came from Mark Kehoe including two frees, as the county underage star almost single-handedly took on the Marys defence. Despite pre-match expectations, St. Mary’s suddenly found themselves in a dogfight to keep their county ambitions alive.
But credit to them, they faced down the challenge and survived, thanks to some impressive hurling from Sammy Ryan, Ross Peters, Richie Gunne, Seamus Kennedy and the experienced Gearóid Buckley who landed an important free and then finished the scoring with his third point from play in the fourth minute of time added-on.
All Kilsheelan could managed in the closing 13 minutes or so were two points, one from a Kehoe free and another a superb Paul Maher effort on the run from 65 metres out. Crucially Mark Kehoe’s freetaking, so impeccable early on, deserted him somewhat in the dying minutes leaving the South champions off the hook to an extent.
St. Mary’s will have a bit of head-scratching to do after this as to how a 21 points winning margin against the same opposition weeks ago turned into a battle for survival this time. But on the positive side it has provided them with a closely-contested game which will also banish any delusions of a easy return to senior grade. And there is nothing negative about being asked serious questions on the field of play as the business end of the county championship fast approaches.
For Kilsheelan/Kilcash it was an honest and committed effort that came up slightly short. The goal conceded just before half-time was a bad break for them and provided the opposition with a scarcely deserved cushion on the run of play. Mark Kehoe was the game’s outstanding player contributing 12 points of the 0-14 they amassed. But they had others who stood out also with Paul and Bill Maher, David Corcoran, Adrian McGuire, Daire Brennan, Brendan Martin and Eoghan Kelly having their moments too.
St. Mary’s, Clonmel: Shane O’Neill (Capt), Paul Nolan, Kyle Peters, Joe Gunne, Liam Ryan, Ross Peters, Sammy Ryan, Richie Gunne (0-3), Jamie Peters, Jason Lonergan, Gearóid Buckle (0-4, 0-1F), Seamus Kennedy (0-1F), Dean Fitzgerald (1-2), Darren Cass (0-1), Sean Kennedy (0-4F).
Subs: Matt Barlow for Sean Kennedy (56); Conor O’Sullivan for Fitzgerald (58).
Kilsheelan/Kilcash: Alex Harte, Kevin Guiry, Jimmy Ryan, David Corcoran, Paul Maher (0-1), Adrian McGuire, Daire Brennan, Bill Maher (Capt), Eoghan Kelly, Mark Kehoe (0-12, 0-9F, 0-1x65), David Smith, Sean Martin, James Geraghty, Padraig Hickey, Brendan Martin (0-1).
Subs: Donncha Lonergan for K. Guiry (17); Robert Hennebry for Harte (inj., HT); Conor David-Murphy for Hickey (HT); Niall Walsh for Kelly (50).
Referee: Kevin Jordan.