There was no real danger as a Templemore defender lined up his clearance but John O’Neill made a great block before sweeping it across goal to the unmarked McCormack. The 14-year-old, a nephew of “Redser” O’Grady, rattled the net from the edge of the small square to give his side a four point cushion, and they weren’t going to be caught from that position.
Replays are seldom as good as the drawn game but this was the exception. Before a big crowd, both teams served up another classic contest.
Thurles deserved their victory, primarily because their attack was better. When you include two of their substitutes, seven forwards got on the scoresheet while Our Lady’s were again almost totally reliant on midfielder Noel McGrath for scores.
Defensively, Thurles also held the upper hand. Centre-back James Barry and Joe McGuire on his left were majestic and even found time to contribute to the scoreline. Liam Dwan again had a tremendous tussle with Noel McGrath at midfield while up front Jack Fogarty, David Butler and John O’Neill gave the Templemore defence a torrid time.
Like in the drawn game, there was no quarter asked or given. The tackling was ferocious and the skill factor on both sides was of the highest order.
Thurles had wind advantage in the first half and needed to build up a sizeable lead at half-time. After the sides had been level at 0-2 each, the Thurles attack carved open the Templemore defence with a great passing movement for Jack Fogarty to billow the net.
They went on to lead 1-6 to 0-6 at the interval.
Playing into the wind, the Thurles attack surprisingly found it that bit easier to score and at the end of the third quarter had stretched their lead to five points, 1-9 to 0-7, principally due to the excellent free-taking of David Butler.
Our Lady’s were in need of inspiration from somewhere if they were to stay in the game and who better to provide than Noel McGrath. In a magnificent seven minute spell, he rattled over five points without reply to tie the game for a second time.
Templemore were in full cry and it was hard to see them losing, but as the tension mounted substitute Denis Maher landed a Thurles point – their first for 20 minutes – to stop the rot and set up a grandstand finish.
Surprisingly, it was Our Lady’s who had to do all the defending in those tension-packed last few minutes and Thurles’s never say die spirit was rewarded with that match winning goal by Aidan McCormack, which sets up a semi-final meeting with DLS Waterford on the weekend of February 10/11 at a venue to be decided.
Scorers – Thurles CBS: D. Butler 0-4 (0-2 frees); J. Fogarty, A. McCormack 1-0 each; J. O’Neill 0-2; C. Ryan, J. Barry, J. McGuire, M. McGrath, D. Maher 0-1 each.
Our Lady’s: N. McGrath 0-8 (0-4 frees); S. Bourke, C. Scully (frees) 0-2 each; P. Fogarty 0-1.
THURLES CBS: B. McCormack; S. Harty, S. Dorney, K. O’Gorman; K. Doyle, J. Barry, J. McGuire; L. Dwan, R. Ryan; K. Morris, J. Fogarty, C. Ryan; D. Butler, M. McGrath, J. O’Neill.
Subs: D.Maher for K. Morris; A. McCormack for M. McGrath; K. Morris for C. Ryan.
OUR LADY’S: P. Murray; D. Greed, L. Butler, P. Moynihan; C. Hennessy, S. McCormack, W. Ryan; N. McGrath, S. Leahy; C. Scully, S. Bourke, W. Donnelly; A. Fogarty, A. Ryan, A. McGrath.
Sub: E. Murray for A. Ryan
Referee: B. White (Clonmel).