St Thomas stay on course to retain title

Reigning All-Ireland champions St Thomas remain on course to retain their crown after surviving a do-or-die group clash with the 2011 winners Clarinbridge last evening.

With three-time All-Ireland champions Portumna having secured a quarter-final place yesterday evening, St Thomas faced an early exit. However, they were never really troubled and advanced to the last eight with a comfortable 2-16 to 0-10 win in Athenry.

Clarinbridge, who have lost several players since their 2011 All-Ireland win including the Kerins brothers, Mark and Alan, were in trouble when they trailed by 1-10 to 0-4.

St Thomas had the breeze in the opening half and were first to nearly every ball with All Star David Burke and his Galway colleague James Regan on top in the middle of the field.

Clarinbridge came back in the second half but were dependant on six Eoin Forde frees to give them any chance.

But any hopes of a comeback disappeared when St Thomas got their second goal from a Conor Cooney penalty, with their opening goal coming from a long-range Darragh Burke free two minutes from the break.

Joe Canning was in superb form for Portumna as his 0-13 haul helped his side clinch a quarter-final berth with a 2-27 to 1-10 victory over Killimordaly.

A first-half goal from Andy Smith helped the three-time All-Ireland club champions to the win, with Niall Hayes’ second 13 minutes from time easing the favourites into the last eight.

To their credit Killimordaly put up a stern fight to the competition favourites and a goal from goalkeeper Nigel Daly direct from a long range free left just five points between the sides five minutes after the break. But Canning responded in style and hit three points in succession to take the win after Damien Hayes set up his cousin Niall for the clincher.

Padraig Pearses and Ardrahan had already qualified before this weekend’s final round of fixtures.

Castlegar advanced to the last eight when they edged out Kinvara by 1-17 to 2-13.

Castlegar, now managed by former Galway boss John McIntyre, looked to be in trouble when Conor Whelan scored a late goal for Kinvara. But Ger Farragher levelled for Castlegar in the closing moments and then Dean Higgins shot the winner. Earlier Enda Concannon for Castlegar and Kinvara goalkeeper Colm Callanan, from a free, exchanged goals.

Loughrea again made it through to the knockout stages seeing off neighbours Craughwell by 1-18 to 0-15. Turloughmore also advanced, beating Ardrahan by 2-15 to 2-12, with goals from Ronan Badger and Conor Shaughnessy. Maurice Callanan scored 2-9 for an Ardrahan side who were already through to the last eight before this match.

Beagh qualified for the quarter-finals when they defeated Kiltormer 0-17 to 0-15 at Athenry yesterday. Beagh, with Joe and Rory Gantley in top form, led by 0-8 to 0-5 at the break and came good in the closing stages to book their place in the last eight.

Meanwhile, Athenry will battle it out in the relegation dogfight along with Moycullen, Tynagh-Abbey/Duniry and Carnmore. Sarsfields are safe from the drop even though they did not play yesterday, with city side Liam Mellows also safe.

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