Glen Rovers manager Richie Kelleher admitted after this Munster Club SHC semi-final in Semple Stadium yesterday that the better team won, and he couldn’t have given a more honest appraisal.
Borris-Ileigh were up for this, and unfortunately for Glen Rovers, they couldn’t shake off the disappointment of losing the Cork county final.
They struggled for long periods, did come good to set up an exciting finish, but ultimately were outplayed.
There was talk Borris-Ileigh might have overdone the celebrations during the week after their long wait for Tipperary honours. If anything, they were energised.
They flew out of the traps and had three points on the board inside the first three minutes. It was a foretaste of what was to come.
The relatively young hosts began as they meant to go on. They were 10 points to the good at one stage early in the second half. That they had the ability to hold off a second half fightback by the Glen, who cut the gap to two points, says it all.
Their backs might have been to the wall but, to a man, they were not found wanting particularly All-Ireland medallists Brendan Maher and Dan McCormack.
And their manager Johnny Kelly believes they are not finished yet: “These fellas are brilliant hurlers, and there is more in them.
“They were exceptional there again today and the lesser lights as well.
“The celebrations had to run their course. There was no way we could foretell how they would react today.
“But to be honest about it, credit goes to the fellas themselves. They could have stayed at it and enjoyed the celebrations too much. Once we got back on Wednesday night, they refocused.”
Glen Rovers were playing catch up from the start. Conor Kenny and Jerry Kelly helping the Premier side four points to nil in front before Patrick Horgan netted in the ninth minute. A fabulous finish from the full-forward after he was teed up by Simon Kennefick while Dean Brosnan levelled matters soon after.
Borris-Ileigh’s busy forward line got going again and a brace of Kevin Maher frees put them back in the ascendancy before Brosnan replied. Borris-Ileigh turned the screw once more and four points on the trot put daylight between the teams.
The Glen hit a barren patch, their only score being a Horgan free in the 30th minute to leave the half time score, 0-10 to 1-3.
Sixteen seconds was all it took for Borris-Ileigh to leave their mark in the second half.
A sublime goal following a powerful run from James JD Devaney low into the right corner. Ten minutes in, and they surged 10 points clear.
Glen Rovers made a couple of substitutions, Glenn Kennefick coming on and scoring a point.
Shortly afterwards, Horgan earned a free and when he blasted it into the net, we had a six-point match.
It got better for the Rebel outfit when Horgan added another pair of frees (both won by subs Kennefick and Evan Murphy) and there was one from play from full-back David Dooling to make it a three-point game, 2-8 to 1-14.
Four minutes of regulation time remained but with three added minutes to be played, could there enough time for a Glen turnaround?
What was impressive from Borris-Ileigh was they always responded and this time it was Kevin Maher and Conor Kenny to leave five between them.
The Glen were far more involved now. Bearing down on goal, Borris-Ileigh needed heroic defending and they got it in spades.
Liam Ryan produced a terrific block when a goal looked a certainty from Mark Dooley.
Ray McCormack was another who saved the day and there was good work too from goalkeeper James McCormack.
The ball was back again in the danger area when Horgan floated in a free, and this time sub Dooley made no mistake in registering the Glen’s third goal two minutes into stoppage, 1-16 to 3-8.
Borris were relieved to see a Jerry Kelly shot sail over the bar, and with that the final whistle and a first Munster final appearance in 33 years.
“It is a game of hurling at the end of the day,” added Kelly.
“Whoever it is, it is going to be a serious challenge. We will adapt accordingly,” he said
Scorers for Borris-Ileigh: C Kenny (0-6), Kevin Maher (0-5, 0-3 frees), J Kelly (0-4), J JD Devaney (1-0), B Maher (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 65).
Scorers for Glen Rovers: P Horgan (2-4, 1-3 frees, 0-1 65), M Dooley (1-0), D Brosnan (0-2), G Kennefick and D Dooling (0-1 each).
Borris-Ileigh: J McCormack; S Burke, P Stapleton, L Ryan; S McCormack (Joint-Capt), B Maher, R McCormack; T Ryan, D McCormack; C Kenny (Joint-Capt), Kieran Maher, J Kelly; Kevin Maher, N Kenny, J JD Devaney.
Subs: J Hogan for T Ryan (55), C Cowan for N Kenny (60), J Harkin for P Stapleton (62).
Glen Rovers: C Hickey; A Lynch, D Dooling, C Healy; D Noonan, B Moylan (Capt), R Downey; D Cronin, A O’Donovan; D Brosnan, D Cunningham, S Kennefick; C Dorris, P Horgan, L Coughlan.
Subs: M Dooley for S Kennefick, G Kennefick for C Dorris (both 36), E Murphy for L Coughlan (48), D Busteed for D Cunningham (53).
Referee: Thomas Walsh (Waterford).