Team captain Shane O'Neill and club legend Billy Carroll hold aloft the cup after St. Mary's victory over Gortnahoe/Glengoole in the County Intermediate Hurling Final at Golden on Saturday.
County Tipperary Intermediate Hurling Championship Final:
ST. MARY’S (Clonmel) 2-19 :: 0-11 GORTNAHOE/GLENGOOLE
Scenes of unbelievable joy and emotion greeted St. Mary’s comprehensive county final victory over Gortnahoe/Glengoole at Golden on Saturday afternoon.
With a powerful and emphatic 2-19 to 0-11 victory, the Clonmel club finally bridged a 42 year gap since their last county final success at adult grade - the County Junior ‘A’ title way back in 1975.
Saturday's win will give a further boost to the rising fortunes of the St. Mary's club who after decades without county silverware has now, amazingly, won three county titles in succession; this latest success at intermediate grade adding to the two minor ‘A’ championship wins of 2015 and 2016. Strange days indeed.
A sea of blue and white celebrate the St. Mary's victory.
It was a magnificent team performance right throughout, St. Mary’s seizing the initiative early on when racing into a 0-4 to 0-0 lead after just seven minutes and never looking back thereafter. They were clearly the better team all over the field and by half-time were well on their way with a 0-13 to 0-4 advantage.
The opening minutes of the second half were perhaps Gortnahoe’s only period when they looked like putting it up to the South champions, but once a Sean Kennedy free in the 38th minute went over it settled St Mary’s again and it was soon to be “game over.”
Twelve minutes from time with St. Mary’s comfortably in control at 0-16 to 0-9, their first goal came courtesy of Darren Cass. Four minutes later, a second goal whipped in by substitute Conor O’Sullivan pushed the gap out to 2-17 to 0-10. The last 15 minutes or so thereafter, including the six added on, were academic. There was to be no denying St Mary’s on their day in Golden or their golden day, if you like, in the annals of the proud club.
St. Mary's investment in youth is clearly paying dividends for the Clonmel club and hundreds of fans were in Golden today to cheer on their heroes.
Playing with the advantage of the breeze St. Mary's hit the front in the fourth minute with a point from midfielder Jamie Peters and quickly seized the initiative. Further points followed in quick succession from the county senior Seamus Kennedy and his younger brother Sean, with Seamus adding a 65 after a goal effort from Darren Cass forced a good save from Keith Corbett in the Gortnahoe goal.
The Mid Tipp side, having hit three early wides, eventually got off the mark in the 10th minute, with an excellent point from the left wing by Ronan Teehan.
With Ross Peters majestic all through at centre-back for St. Mary's, a clearance of his was finished by Gearóid Buckley and then a minute later Seamus Kennedy hit a point on the run to put the Clonmel side 0-6 to 0-1 up by the 12th minute.
A pair of frees, shared by Dermot Lahart and Sean Kennedy, preceded a point from play by Kevin Slattery for Gortnahoe.
A significant moment came midway through the first half when Gortnahoe won a penalty after Kyle Peters was adjudged to have impeded his marker. Disappointinly for Gortnahoe the penalty strike from Ronan Teehan was pushed around the post by Shane O'Neill. The resultant 65 went wide, but a massive chance for Gortnahoe to narrow the gap to just a single point was gone. After that the gap would slowly increase from four to 14 over the remainder of the game.
Sean Kennedy and Lahart again swopped points before the South champions finished the half with five unanswered points.
A well-cut line ball from Seamus Kennedy gave Dean Walsh a goal chance that went just over, followed by points from the hard-working Richie Gunne, Jason Lonergan and Jamie Peters before Seamus Kennedy hit his fourth point of the opening period from almost 70 metres. Michael Ryan's team went in at half-time leading by seven, the Westmeath county hurling manager well pleased with his charges.
For the early minutes of the second half Gortnahoe enjoyed supremacy and three frees by Lahart inside five minutes had the game back to six points but it was soon to fade out.
Sean Kennedy's opening point for St. Mary's eight minutes after the resumption settled the nerves and steadied the ship. But Gortnahoe never looked really threatening against a dominant backline, realising just four points from play over the course of the game.
Another Lahart free and a sweet point from Keane Hayes on the run were balanced by a Jason Lonergan point and a Sean Kennedy free to leave the score at 0-16 to 0-9 after 47 minutes.
Soon afterwards it was all over as a contest.
Another fine sideline ball from Seamus Kennedy wasn't dealt with properly by the Gortnahoe defence and Darren Cass got enough on a ground stroke to find the corner of the net for St. Mary's. Immediately afterwards Jason Lonergan, who put in a top class display, struck his third point to extend the gap out to 11 points.
Ronan Teehan pointed a free for Gortnahoe after Kevin Slattery was fouled but it only stemmed the flow very briefly.
After Darren Cass had a second goal ruled out in the 52nd minute, St. Mary's made sure of a green flag in the very next attack. A long delivery into the forward line was poorly dealt with by the Gortnahoe keeper and substitute Conor O'Sullivan who was only on minutes at that stage, took full advantage to blast home. At 2-17 to 0-10, some supporters began to head to the exit.
Towards the end Jamie Peters hit a monster point from midfield, his third of the day. And in the final minutes Keane Hayes tagged on Gortnahoe's final score before another St. Mary's sub, Adam Peters, polished off the day with a nice point after a pass from Matt Barlow.
This was a wonderful team performance on an historic day for the St. Mary's Club. Goalkeeper and captain, Shane O'Neill dealt with what came his way superbly; Ross Peters, who led the defence, had an oustanding hour, popping up wherever the sliotar seemed to go, while young Joe Gunne, Liam Ryan and Sammy Ryan also played strong roles. Richie Gunne was trojan in his workrate in the middle alongside Jamie Peters. Seamus Kennedy stood out, his performance, no doubt, pleasing county manager Michael Ryan who was in attendance. As ever Jason Lonergan worked his socks off in attack while Dean Walsh did a lot of spade work in the first half in particular. Young Sean Kennedy was spot on all day with his frees and struck a good early point from play.
In was a disappointing day for Gortnahoe/Glengoole who met more than their match. They didn't help their cause with some bad early wides - hitting seven in the first half - and the penalty was a great opportunity for them that went abegging. But in an overworked full-back line Philly Purcell, Jamie Moriarty and Martin Barnaville didn't let their side down. Karl Collins, Ronan Teehan, Keane Hayes and Colm Guilfoyle (on his introduction) were others who gave of their best.
Next year, as a result of this win, St. Mary’s will once again take their place in the senior grade, another long gap bridged since their relegation in 2002, finally righted.
As team captain and goalkeeper Shane O’Neill (from Ballyea, County Clare, home of the Munster club hurling champions) accepted the cup alongside blue-in-the blood lifelong servant of St Mary’s Billy Carroll, a sea of blue erupted with joy. You could almost hear the John Lennon song in your head “Nobody told me there’d be days like these.” Saturday was one of those days, a day when we all know why we love our sport so much.
Congrats to St. Mary’s. Commiserations to Gortnahoe/Glengoole who came up against a stronger force on the day.
Teams and scorers:
St. Mary’s: Shane O’Neill (Capt), Joe Gunne, Kyle Peters, Paul Nolan, Liam Ryan, Ross Peters, Sammy Ryan, Richie Gunne (0-1), Jamie Peters (0-3), Jason Lonergan (0-3), Gearóid Buckley (0-1), Seamus Kennedy (0-4, 0-1f, 0-1X65), Dean Walsh (0-1), Darren Cass (1-0), Sean Kennedy (0-5, 0-4F).
Subs: Gavin Ryan for K. Peters (HT); Conor O’Sullivan (1-0) for Buckley (45); Matt Barlow for Sean Kennedy (52); Stephen Buckley for Walsh (54); Adam Peters (0-1) for Cass (58).
Gortnahoe/Glengoole: Keith Corbett, Philly Purcell, Jamie Moriarty, Martin Barnaville, Willie Brenna, David Nolan, Eddie Stokes, Karl Collins, Enda McNulty, Liam Lanigan, Dermot Lahart (0-6F), Aidan Guilfoyle, Kevin Slattery (Capt, 0-1), Ronan Teehan (0-2, 0-1F), Keane Hayes (0-2).
Subs: Fionn Cleary for Collins (30); Colm Guilfoyle for Brennan (HT); Tommy Duggan for A. Guilfoyle (45); Ronan Stanley for Lahart (51); Timmy Dunne for Lanigan (60+1).
Referee: Philip Kelly (Ballinahinch).