Kilkenny champions, Tullaroan, opened and finished in style when blasting their way into the All-Ireland intermediate club hurling championship final.
Goals early and late from former All-Star Tommy Walsh, plus a third one in the 54th minute from Kilkenny panelist, Martin Keoghan, buried gutsy Naomh Éanna (Antrim) in this fiercely contested semi-final in Parnell Park on Saturday.
A Jack Keoghan point and a second minute Walsh goal gave Tullaroan the perfect start.
John McGoldrick opened the Naomh Eanna account shortly after, before Tullaroan goalie Paul Buggy produced stunning saves to deny McGoldrick and Darragh Cooper in quick succession as the Kilkenny men led 1-11 to 0-6 at the break.
Naomh Éanna desperately tried to close the gap but their efforts were undone by smashing goals from Keoghan and Walsh in the 54th and 57th minutes to seal Tullaroan’s place in the decider against Fr O’Neill’s.
Scorers for Tullaroan: S. Walsh (0-9, nine frees); T. Walsh, Mountgale (2-1); M. Keoghan (1-1); M. Walsh (0-3); P. Walsh, J. Keoghan, T. Dunne, B. Gaffney, J. Walton, S. Cuddibhy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Naomh Eanna: J. McGoldrick (0-6, five frees, one 65); R. Bogue (0-3); K. Jennings (0-2); C. Ross, R. Donaghy, M. O’Hare (0-1 each).
TULLAROAN: P. Buggy; D. Doheny, T. Walsh (Village), S. Maher; Martin Walsh, Padraig Walsh, J. Keoghan; T. Dunne, Mark Walsh; B. Gaffney, M. Keoghan, J. Walton; S. Walsh, Tommy Walsh (Mountgale), Peter Walsh.
Subs: D. Simpson for T. Dunne (46); K. Coogan for Peter Walsh (50); G. Luby for B Gaffney (56); S. Cuddihy for J. Walton (57); S. Dowling for S. Walsh (58).
NAOMH ÉANNA: M. Curran; N. O’Connor, R. Gillen, R. Diamond; M. Mullan, M. Donaghy, C. Ross; R. Bogue, J. Maskey; P. Curran, R. Donaghy, C. Jennings; J. McGoldrick, D. Cooper, K. Jennings.
Subs: R. Crummey for D. Cooper (46); M. O’Hare for C. Jennings (46); E. O’Connor for P. Curran (54); D. Lowry for K. Jennings (58); D. Maguire for R. Donaghy (61).
Referee - S. Hayes (Galway).