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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
J. Hogan for N. Kenny (57); C. Cowan for J. Kelly (60+1).
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.
P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).