Brendan Maher inspires Borris-Ileigh to victory in thrilling All-Ireland semi-final

Maher scored a stunning late point with a broken hurley as Borris-Ileigh finished stronger.

Brendan Maher inspires Borris-Ileigh to victory in thrilling All-Ireland semi-final

[team1]Borris-Ileigh (Tipperary)[/team1][score1]1-21[/score1][team2]St Thomas' (Galway)[/team2][score2]1-14[/score2][/score]

Borris-Ileigh are back in an All-Ireland senior club final for the time in 33 years as their work-rate shone through in this thrilling semi-final encounter in front of a 4,192 crowd in the LIT Gaelic Grounds.

St Thomas' were left to rue a wide count of 14 wides but their defence was also found wanting by the ferocity of the Borris-Ileigh attackers to win back possession.

The Tipperary and Munster champions led by two at the break, 0-11 to 1-6, and were reeled in a couple of times and St Thomas’ even went ahead in the 42nd minute. However, they were outscored by Borris-Ileigh 1-8 to 0-3 for the remainder.

Brendan Maher was almost immaculate in his free-taking while Conor Kenny, James Devaney and the Mahers Kieran and Kevin were relentless. Darragh Burke made it a two-point game in additional time but then Brendan Maher converted a free while breaking his hurley and with what he had left sent over another point. It was left then to Devaney to add a goal to top it all off.

St Thomas’ were off to the better start, picking off a couple of points inside the opening three minutes, but the next three came from their opponents, the best of them their first from Brendan Maher with a scoop of the wrists efforts from close to the sideline.

The game turned in St Thomas’ favour in the 10th minute when Oisín Flannery caught a diagonal ball and fed Éanna Burke whose rasping shot into James McCormack’s top left corner couldn’t be stopped.

; Borris-Ileigh players celebrate after the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship semi-final win over St Thomas' at the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
; Borris-Ileigh players celebrate after the All-Ireland Senior Club Championship semi-final win over St Thomas' at the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Burke had another goal chance soon afterwards but it fizzed wide, one of six for St Thomas’ in the first half. Again, Borris-Ileigh responded well and scored the following three points all from frees.

St Thomas’ moved a point ahead in the 19th minute but Borris-Ileigh yet again strung together three consecutive scores, all of them remarkable points. Flannery stopped that momentum to bring St Thomas’ to within a point in the 27th minute and the margin remained one going into the dying embers of the half when Brendan Maher pointed a 65 to create the two-point gap.

Scorers for Borris-Ileigh: B. Maher (0-10, 6 frees, 2 65s); Kevin Maher (0-4, 2 frees); J. Devaney (1-1); C. Kenny (0-3); Kieran Maher (0-2, 1 free); J. Kelly (0-1).

Scorers for St Thomas’: D. Burke (0-5, 3 frees, 1 65); E. Burke (1-0); C. Cooney (0-3); B. Burke (0-2); O. Flannery, J. Regan, S. Cooney, David Burke (0-1 each).

BORRIS-ILEIGH: J. McCormack; S. Burke, P. Stapleton, L. Ryan; S. McCormack (j-c), B. Maher, R. McCormack; T. Ryan, D. McCormack; C. Kenny (j-c), N. Kenny, J. Devaney; Kevin Maher, J. Kelly, Kieran Maher.

Subs for Borris-Ileigh: J. Hogan for N. Kenny (57); C. Cowan for J. Kelly (60+1).

ST THOMAS’: J. Barrett; C. Mahoney, S. Skehill, C. Burke; D. Cooney, S. Cooney, D. Sherry; J. Regan, David Burke; C. Cooney (c), Darragh Burke, B. Burke; O. Flannery, É. Burke, F. Burke.

Referee: P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).

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