Maher won a Tipperary SHC medal with Thurles Sarsfields last Sunday as a forward, but was back in the heart of his school’s defence as the defending champions stayed on course to retain their provincial title.
A county minor this year, Maher was a colossus at centre back for the winners and his contribution of five points, three of them from 65s, marked him out.
While Maher was the star for Thurles, he received tremendous help from full back Darragh Devine, corner back Cathal Carroll, midfielder Pa Dunne and forwards Aidan McCormack and Mike O’Brien.
In a game that failed to live up to its billing, Nenagh couldn’t match their opponents in terms of skill and scoring prowess, although county minor Brian Stapleton did chalk up seven points of his side’s tally.
An indication of how weak the Nenagh attack was can be gleaned from the fact that Stapleton played at midfield and the only forward to score for them was Eoin Hogan with two points while Eddie Darcy came on with 10 minutes to go and added a point.
Nenagh won the toss but opted to give wind and rain advantage to their opponents and it proved a costly error. With Denis Maher lording it at centre back, Thurles hit seven points in the opening 10 minutes.
Brian Stapleton stopped the rot with his and Nenagh’s first score in the 12th minute and hurling with far more purpose, they restricted their opponents to just one more point for the remainder of the half while giving themselves every chance of causing an upset by finishing strongly to trail 0-8 to 0-5 at half time.
Nenagh threw down the gauntlet to Thurles on the change over as the impressive Brian Stapleton landed his fifth point, but instead of playing the sliothar down the wings, they persisted in pumping it down the middle on top of Maher which was futile.
Maher showed his prowess converting two 65s in a row and they effectively killed off the Nenagh challenge with three more from play to lead by double scores, 0-14 to 0-7, at the three quarter stage.
For Nenagh to have any chance of winning, they needed a goal but that never looked likely against a teak tough Thurles defence in which Devane and Carroll were unbeatable.
Despite a late rally led by Damien Maher, Daire Quinn and Brian Stapleton who landed two points, Nenagh couldn’t break down the Thurles defence and must now win their remaining game against CSN.
Scorers for Thurles CBS: A McCormack 0-7 (0-5 frees); D Maher 0-5 (0-3 65s, 0-1 free); M O’Brien 0-2; P Ralph, C Treacy 0-1 each.
Scorers for Nenagh CBS: B Stapleton 0-7 (0-3 frees, 0-1 65); E Hogan 0-2 (0-1 f); E Darcy 0-1.
THURLES CBS: A Stakelum; S Maher, D Devane, C Carroll; C Barrett, D Maher, J Meagher; P., Dunne, P Looby; A McCormack, M Sadler, T Doyle; M O’Brien, B Campion, P Ralph.
Subs: C Treacy for Doyle (45); P Egan for Campion (45); A O’Donoghue for Dunne (54).
NENAGH CBS: D Reddan; J Loughnane, D Maher, J O’Dwyer; M O’Flaherty, D Quinn, P Gill; B Stapleton, P Butler; J Forde, K Seymour, J O’Brien; T Gallagher, E Hogan, M Tuite.
Subs: E Darcy for J O’Brien (50); P Shanahan for M Tuite (50); N Gleeson for P Butler (52).
Referee: E Browne (Tipperary).