Another competition, another All-Ireland final for Kilkenny hurling, this time thanks to the exploits of Thomastown’s junior side.
A couple of star-studded displays in the forward line put paid to a brave Kildorrery challenge in this semi-final played at a bitterly cold, yet dry Cashel.
Full-forward and team captain John Joe Farrell led by example bagging 1-5 in a performance which left the Kildorrery defence twisting and turning in his wake while inside colleagues, Thomas O’Hanrahan and Stuart Waugh, grabbed a goal apiece and caused huge problems for the Cork rearguard.
Two of those goals came in the opening 22 minutes and proved to be the cushion needed by the Kilkenny champions, even though Kildorrery’s goal — just before half-time — looked like a game-changer after Eamonn O’Connor embarked on a mazy run before producing a perfect pass to Andrew O’Brien who buried.
O’Connor was injured in a clash with Thomastown goalkeeper Dylan Walsh and the latter was red-carded, putting things on an intriguing footing with the teams level at the break.
However, despite being a man down, it was Thomastown who dominated the third quarter, scoring 1-4 without reply, before the sides went tit-for-tat for the remainder of the game.
Kildorrery boss Tony McCarthy expressed disappointment at missing out on a trip to Croke Park. “To be so near a final, but so far, but the lads have been fantastic... There were lads coming down from Dublin and Limerick and Cork... doing all this for the love of the club and the little village.”
His Thomastown counterpart Paul Treacy said winning the Kilkenny junior championship had been their priority, but then national prizes were in sight. “We’ve seen other Kilkenny teams do it before and we said, ‘why not’?”
Scorers for Thomastown: M Donnelly 0-8 (5f, 1’65’), JJ Farrell 1-5, S Waugh 1-0, T O’Hanrahan 1-0, D Waugh 0-1.
Scorers for Kildorrery: P O’Brien 0-8 (5f), A O’Brien 1-1, D Kelly 0-2, J McCarthy 0-1, W Fouhy 0-1.
THOMASTOWN: D Walsh, S Mahony, S Lanigan, B Murphy, B Whelan, P O’Hanrahan, R O’Hara, D Walsh, D Lanigan, M Mahony, M Donnelly, D Burke, T O’Hanrahan, JJ Farrell, S Waugh.
Subs: D McGarry for M Mahony, D Waugh for D Burke.
KILDORRERY: J McEniry, N Kelly, S Fitzgerald, C O Baoill, J Howard, M Walsh, M Lillis, J McCarthy, R McEniry, E O’Connor, P O’Brien, W Fouhy, D Kelly, A O’Brien, F Stapleton.
Subs: L Kelly for J Howard, S Kelly for J McCarthy, J Walsh for C O Baoill.
Ref: Christy Browne (Galway).
By Conor Kane