Newtownshandrum (Cork) 0-19 Thurles Sarsfields (Tipperary) 1-15
A late point from Cork star Jerry O'Connor was the match winner for Newtownshandrum as they overcame a nightmare start to beat Tipperary champions Thurles Sarsfields by 0-19 to 1-15 at Semple Stadium this afternoon.
O'Connor followed up a terrific block with a 60th-minute point and with Thurles' goalscorer Pa Bourke failing to land a last-gasp long-range free, the Cork champions booked their place in the AIB Munster Club SHC semi-finals.
In an end-to-end encounter, Sarsfields raced into a 1-1 to 0-0 lead with county ace Bourke hitting the opening point and then finding the net in the third minute with a crisply-struck ground shot.
The Corkmen, who were Munster and All-Ireland champions back in 2005-2006, responded strongly and were back level at 0-4 to 1-1 by the sixth minute, Ryan Clifford, Michael Bowles, Jerry O’Connor and Cathal Naughton each registering a point.
Naughton's pace was a constant concern for the Sarsfields defence but the home side's forwards were showing some excellent accuracy when on the ball, with Bourke, Denis Maher and Johnny Enright raising white flags.
Young wing forward Maher struck two superb points from close to the right sideline, while Bourke also converted a classy sideline cut from that range.
Although Ben O'Connor was coming more and more into the game from frees and open play, Thurles managed to break into a 1-10 to 0-7 lead thanks to further scores from Maher, Bourke and Shane Ryan.
It was an absorbing quarter-final tie which had the crowd gripped throughout, and the obvious tension spilled over when Sarsfields attacker Richie Ruth and Newtown captain Dermot Gleeson clashed off the ball and received yellow cards.
Newtown got a grip on things towards the end of the first half, hitting five points in a row and great work in defence from Pat Mulcahy and Philip Noonan laid the platform for this dominant spell.
The O’Connor twins were, of course, in the thick of it and a skilful pick-up by Ben set speedster Naughton free for a 27th-minute point.
Subsequent efforts from Ben O’Connor - a beautifully curled sideline cut that was worth the admission price alone - and Clifford closed the gap to 1-10 to 0-12 for half-time.
A heavy rainshower at the start of the second half slowed the procession of scores, but Ben O'Connor and both Maher and Bourke continued to add to their tallies.
A Ben O'Connor free tied up the game initially, Maher then sent Thurles ahead again before Jerry O'Connor and Naughton combined to move the visitors ahead at 0-15 to 1-11.
Thurles hit the front thanks to points from Maher and Bourke, but a misplaced clearance by goalkeeper Patrick McCormack almost saw him concede a goal at the other end.
Sarsfields introduced Ger ‘Redser’ O’Grady for the closing stages and his involvement in an off-the-ball altercation with Newtown defender Mulcahy saw both players shown yellow cards.
Two frees, either side of that incident, from TG4 man-of-the-match Ben O’Connor sandwiched another Maher point and squared it up again at 0-17 to 1-14.
Into the final 10 minutes, Bourke and O'Connor were both wayward from placed balls before the latter hit a superb lead point having dropped back into the half-back line.
Thurles midfielder Michael Gleeson replied with a 59th minute point, only for Jerry O'Connor to shoot Newtown ahead for the final time.
This epic quarter-final had three more tension-filled minutes, Thurles coming close to finding the levelling score through Lar Corbett and Bourke.
However, Phil Noonan's gutsy Newtown side stood firm to set up a semi-final showdown with Limerick champions Adare at a Cork venue on November 15.