Champions Thurles Sarsfields eased home against Golden-Kilfeacle, but both Éire Óg, Nenagh, and Borris-Ileigh had anxious moments before advancing.
Even without Hurler of the Year, Lar Corbett, Sarsfields had no difficulty defeating Golden-Kilfeacle at Holycross (1-21 to 0-7). Richie Ruth, who scored 1-4 from play, and county panellist, Michael Gleeson, back after injury, impressed for the winners, who led 0-9 to 0-4 at half-time after playing into the breeze.
Ruth’s goal in the 48th minute put them 1-16 to 0-6 ahead and Sarsfields could enjoy the luxury of withdrawing county men, Padraic Maher, Michael Cahill and Pa Bourke, who scored seven points, for the concluding stages.
Ger “Redser” O’Grady who scored three points and Stephen Lillis also did well for Sarsfields while Aidan Fogarty, Shane Stapleton and Patrick Ivers were to the fore for the losers.
Two goals in the last five minutes from Pearse Morris and Michael Heffernan, who both came on as subs, eased Éire Óg, Nenagh past a battling Holycross-Ballycahill at Templemore.
Liam Dwan’s 19th minute goal gave Holycross an interval lead of 1-5 to 0-7. Dinny Ferncombe shot another for Holycross seven minutes after the restart but Paddy Murphy netted for Nenagh within minutes. The sides were level with five minutes remaining when Morris, with his first touch, netted for Nenagh. Heffernan sealed the 3-13 to 2-8 win with a third goal in injury time. Veteran Kevin Tucker (0-5), captain Richie Flannery, Sean Geaney and Michael Heffernan (1-2) were the key men for Nenagh while Tossy Comerford, Liam Dwan,(1-3) and Robbie Stakelum had solid games for Holycross.
Borris-Ileigh were fortunate to draw with Kilruane MacDonaghs, 2-12 to 0-18 in normal time at Dolla. Doc O’Connor’s late point sent the game into extra time and Borris took advantage of the reprieve to add 10 points to their tally as against one point for Kilruane. Borris were without Philip and Martin Maher but county man Brendan Maher had a storming second-half.
Dan McCormack and Paddy Stapleton were others to shine for the winners. Kilruane sorely missed senior county star, Seamus Hennessy who is sidelined for the year with a knee injury. Mark O’Leary and Brian O’Meara battled hard for them.
Upperchurch-Drombane have Seamus Barry and Pat Shortt to thank for their 0-19 to 0-15 win over Portroe at Templemore. Shortt retired injured shortly before the finish but he had a huge influence on the tie.
Barry’s deliveries from defence were a big boost for Upperchurch who led 0-10 to 0-8 at half-time. Portroe came strongly in the second-half and the sides were level, 0-15 each with seven minutes to go. However, “The Church” finished the strongest with Shortt, his brother Owen, as well as Barry and Paul Ryan landing the crucial points.
Burgess put in a good second-half to edge out Killenaule 1-21 to 0-17. Shane Maher was once again a big influence in the Burgess defence with Tony Scroope having one of his best games in attack, and Damian O’Brien also to the fore.
Éire Óg, Anacarty made up for their disappointment in the West championship with a 1-18 to 0-15 win over Roscrea. Roscrea had a slight lead 0-11 to 0-9 at half-time, but Éire Óg were the better side later on and finished promisingly.