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St. Mary’s minors reach their first county final in twenty-seven years

Jeddy Walsh

Jeddy Walsh

County Minor ‘A’ Hurling Semi-Final

ST. MARY’S 3-12


ST. MARY’S minor hurlers are in with a fighting chance of making history following their defeat of Cashel King Cormacs in the County Minor ‘A’ Hurling Championship semi-final at Drombane on Saturday last.

The Clonmel side have never won the county minor hurling title - losing in two finals, 1954 and 1985 - and only Nenagh Eire Og now stand in their way of glory on Saturday afternoon next in Holycross.

Having beaten reigning county champions Mullinahone in the South semi-final after trailing by nine points at one stage; St. Mary’s then defeated Moyle Rovers in the South final and the King Cormacs in the county semi. St. Mary’s have serious credentials heading for the county showpiece and it will take a very good team to deny them their place in the record books.

But first back to Drombane on Saturday afternoon last, an unusual Mid Tipperary venue for a South v West county semi-final.

The King Cormacs were first on the scoreboard when corner-forward James Cummins pointed a free in the second minute - it would be the one and only time they led all day. Man of the match Jason Lonergan levelled inside a minute for St. Mary’s with his first of seven frees in a nine-points tally over the hour.

Four minutes in St. Mary’s struck for their first goal. A good clearance down the left wing from Ciaran Brady was picked up by Liam Ryan who ran through to score despite Cashel goalkeeper Jonathan Walsh doing well to parry the effort.

Jason Lonergan followed with a free from halfway in the eighth minute to stretch the lead to four.

Dylan Fitzelle, Simon Delaney and Gearoid Slattery were doing a lot of good hurling in the middle of the field for Cashel at this stage but the Mary’s defence were hurling equally well - the half-back line of Ciaran Brady, Colman Kennedy and David Collins holding firm.

On 19 minutes Jason Lonergan popped over a point from midfield after a long clearance from a solid Sean Gunne at full-back and Lonergan then stretched the lead to 1-4 to 0-1 after 22 minutes with a free from 40 metres.

Cashel who hadn’t scored since their opening free got their second score, another free, in the 29th minute when James Cummins penalised a technical foul, but this was almost immediately matched by another free by Jason Lonergan.

In time added-on at the end of the first half Cashel had two unanswered points, one a free from James Cummins and with the very last puck of the first half, their first and only point from play in the whole game when Adrian O’Dwyer scored.

At half-time St. Mary’s were leading by 1-5 to 0-4.

St. Mary’s introduced two half-time substitutes in forwards Sammy Ryan and Ross Peters - Ryan making a welcome return after a long absence through injury. Cashel moved Gearoid Slattery in to full-forward to try and counteract Sean Gunne at full-back. The Mary’s moves would pay greater dividends before the end.

Exchanges in the early stages of the second half were even and it took until the ninth minute for a score to materialise with Cashel’s James Cummins pointing after Simon Delaney had been fouled.

The next three scores went the way of the Clonmel side, all points. Ross Peters delivered a fine pass to Liam Murchan to score. Peters was then fouled for Lonergan to point the free and almost immediately the other half-time substitute Sammy Ryan was impeded and again Lonergan obliged with a white flag.

Six points clear half-way through the second half St. Mary’s seemed comfortable but Cashel were thrown a lifeline in the 46th minute when substitute Raymie O’Leary bundled the ball home and it was now just a three-point game if the King Cormacs could rally themselves.

Within a three minute spell the game was effectively over. Ross Peters featured twice in quick succession, first a delightful point from out on the wing followed by a well-taken goal after Jason Lonergan had delivered the sliothar in from midfield.

The last 10 minutes went very much the way of St. Mary’s in scoring terms as Cashel needed to go for goals, in the process forcing a couple of good saves from Michael Boland.

However it was St. Mary’s who raised the next green flag. Darren Cass, doing great work with Lonergan in midfield, scored a cracking goal after hard graft from Liam Murchan in the build up.

As time ticked away Jason Lonergan scored his seventh free and his second point from play before Liam Murchan added another point for St. Mary’s after a good three-man move involving Colman Kennedy, Darren Cass and then Murchan.

Cashel closed the scoring as they opened it, with a free deep in added time by Dylan Fitzelle, who kept fighting for the cause to the very end.

The Mary’s produced a real team effort on the day with Jason Lonergan outstanding but they had great displays also from Sean Gunne, Colman Kennedy, Darren Cass and Ross Peters after his half-time introduction.

Cashel’s run for county honours came to an end on Saturday but they at least have the consolation of a first West title in 12 years to build on following their great win over Clonoulty/Rossmore. On Saturday Dylan Fitzelle, Simon Delaney and Gearoid Slattery were excellent and others to stand out over the hour were Jonathan Walsh, Thomas Grogan, James Cummins, Cathal Minogue and Adrian O’Dwyer.

St. Mary’s: Michael Boland, Richie Gunne, Sean Gunne, Robert Lyons, Ciaran Brady, Colman Kennedy, David Collins, Darren Casse (1-0), Jason Lonergan (0-9, 0-7F), Liam Murchan (0-2), Brian Walsh, Padraic Looram, Liam Ryan (1-0), Chrissie Walsh, Eric Walsh.

Subs: Ross Peters (1-1) and Sammy Ryan for Padraic Looram and Eric Walsh (both half-time); Cathal McGeever for Liam Ryan; Ronan Brady for Chrissie Walsh; Eric Walsh for Sammy Ryan.

Cashel King Cormacs: Jonathan Walsh, Kevin Shiels, Alan Cummins, Thomas Grogan, Shane Murphy, Fionnan Ryan, Conor Devitt, Gearoid Slattery, Simon Delaney, Cathal Minogue, Dylan Fitzelle (0-1F), Adrian O’Dwyer (0-1), James Cummins (0-4F), Daniel Bowes, Padraig O’Donoghue.

Subs: Raymie O’Leary (1-0) for Fionnan Ryan; Fionnan Ryan for Daniel Bowes; Cormac Ryan for Dylan Fitzelle; Dylan Fitzelle for Padraig O’Donoghue.

John Cleary (Knockshegowna).

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