Toomevara 2-14 Thurles Sarsfields 0-17
SEMPLE STADIUM has witnessed some amazing individual displays of hurling down the years and the performance of Toomevara’s Eoin Brislane in yesterday’s Tipperary SHC final will rank up there with the best of them.
Brislane gave a magnificent performance as Toome regained the county title after a two-year absence following a bruising contest which saw the referee issue seven yellow cards, which might have been red in at least three instances.
The sliothar was hardly thrown in when Toome’s John O’Brien lashed out at his marker which warranted a straight red. The referee dealt with that situation leniently, which set the tone for the rest of the game.
Though the hero of the day for Toome with 1-5 from play, Brislane was also fortunate to stay on the pitch after a reckless pull, but had he been sent off the 6,535 attendance — one of the smallest for a Tipp county hurling final in years — would have missed his superb display.
Thurles’s Ger O’Grady also got off lightly for retaliation on Kenny Dunne. But for all the indiscretions, the game had some great passages of play.
The new champions’ hurling was teak tough, but while only a goal separated the teams at the final whistle, Sarsfields can have no excuses.
They got the perfect start and led five points to one after 15 minutes, but failed to sustain the effort. County senior Pa Bourke wasted a goal chance just two minutes in, yet the home side were well in the game at the break, just two points down after playing into the strong wind.
Unfortunately Sars were almost totally dependent on Johnny Enright for scores. He was unerring from placed balls, converting seven chances and, for good measure, he got six points from play, but he needed support and it simply wasn’t there.
It was most frustrating for the Sars following to see, on occasion, no forward within 30 yards of the opposing goal in the second half as ball after ball was driven in — only for the Toome backs to clear it unchallenged.
Sarsfields were full value for their four-point lead at the end of the opening quarter while playing into the strong wind. Toome needed a sizeable half time lead if they were to survive the second half and got the first of their goals in the 17th minute when Sars ‘keeper Patrick McCormack saved superbly from Eoin Brislane, but the sliothar ran loose and Willie Ryan ushered it over the line.
There was still a lot of unnecessary off-the-ball incidents going on around the field which marred the game, but Thurles were grateful to goalkeeper McCormack who denied John O’Brien a goal coming up to the break before points by Francis Devaney and Brislane left Toome just two in front at the short whistle: it didn’t look to be enough.
Thurles resumed the second half with Lar Corbett out on the forty, but the county man got little change off Benny Dunne and the game developed into the Eoin Brislane show for the rest of the half.
Moved to full forward, he ran rings around his marker, scoring some exquisite points, and the home side were in dire trouble. Only Johnny Enright’s accuracy from frees kept Sars in touch but an Eoin Brislane goal of sheer class in the 27th minute, meant there was only going to be one winner.
The home side tried everything to try and contain Brislane. They brought on Garry Mernagh who was listed on the programme but didn’t start, and he failed to curb the Toome man.
Everything Brislane tried, it came off for him; it was one of those kinds of days. However Sars’ cause wasn’t helped by ridiculous decisions by the referee in calling Lar Corbett back twice after breaking free, awarding him frees instead.
Corbett clearly had goal on his mind as he got away from his marker but was frustrated by the referee’s decision not to let him continue his run which might have yielded the goal they so badly needed.
However the Toome defence was rock solid with David Young, Patrick Tuohy and Benny Dunne giving nothing way, and three late points in a row, all from placed balls, by Johnny Enright, only served to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard.
Scorers for Toomevara: E Brislane 1-5; K Dunne 0-4 (3f); W Ryan 1-0; F Devaney 0-2; T Dunne, J McLoughney (f), P O’Brien (side line) 0-1 each.
Scorers for Thurles: J Enright 0-13 (5f, 0-2 65s); R Ruth 0-2; L Corbett, G O’Grady 0-1 each.
TOOMEVARA: J McGrath; P Tuohy, D Young, P McGrath; P Hackett, B Dunne, J McLoughney; Terry Dunne, T Devaney; P O’Brien, K Dunne, E Brislane; M Bevans, J O’Brien, W Ryan.
Subs: J Delaney for Bevans, 57; D Kennedy for O’Brien, 58; T Delaney for Ryan, 60.
THURLES SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; M Collins, P Maher, K O’Gorman; M Cahill, L Cahill, T., King; S Lillis, S Ryan; W Cully, L Corbett, J Enright; P Bourke, G O’Grady, R Ruth.
Subs: G Mernagh for S Ryan, 39; J Corbett for Ruth, 50; J Lawlor for King, 52; T Ruth for O’Grady, 55.
Referee: N Cosgrove (Marlfield).
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