The clash of the table-toppers in group two of the Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship at The Ragg on Sunday saw Toomevara hold off a last quarter rally from Éire Óg Annacarty to put themselves firmly in the driving seat for a qualifying spot in the knock-out stages of the championship.
Tipperary Water County Senior Hurling Championship
Toomevara 2-14 Éire Óg Annacarty 0-18
Both teams went at it in earnest and produced an absorbing encounter which could really have gone either way, but which Toome deserved to shade though they were hanging on for dear life at the finish.
Éire Óg made the early running and with Brian Fox to the fore scoring points from wing-back they led 0-6 to 0-3 after eleven minutes - a situation helped by some slack finishing on Toome’s part, they were off target five times during that period.
The second quarter, however, belonged to Toome and with the sides level at 0-6 each Kevin McCarthy raced in from the right for a quality goal in the 21st minute. They added points from Mark and Josh McCarthy before the break to which Aidan Griffin, Annacarty’s chief marksman in the first half, replied.
At the interval it was advantage Toomevara (1-8 to 0-7) and Toome continued to dominate in the third quarter with Mark McCarthy landing six points from frees before slamming home a 46th minute goal after Benny Dunne and Kevin McCarthy were involved in the build-up.
Aidan Griffin (two) and Paidi O'Dwyer had Éire Óg points interspersed in those Toome scores, but at this point Toomevara were 2-14 to 0-12 clear and looking like comfortable winners.
Annacarty have a proven track record as doughty fighters and they were not going to go under without a battle. Three points in five minutes from Kevin Fox, Aidan Griffin and a long-range free from goalie Darragh Mooney generated momentum, leaving them five points adrift. Three further points in as many minutes from Tom Fox, Griffin and a Mooney free left only two in it with three minutes to play and the fine gathering was really warming to the contest.
The Toome backs were to the wall at this stage as Éire Óg chased a goal and the Greyhounds had goalie Darren Cuddihy to thank for their survival - his smart save from Connie Bradshaw in the dying minutes denied the West side a three-pointer which would surely have given them the points.
TOP OF THE TABLE
So, Toome stay top of the table and their remaining game against Killenaule will further test their credentials as they seek to recapture former glories. While a trifle disappointed at having found themselves in such difficulty at the end when the game ought to have been put to bed, possibly due to a drop in concentration, they have every reason to be pleased to have come through against opposition who have been mixing it with the best in recent years.
Toome would probably regard themselves as a work-in-progress rather than the full package at this stage and this win should do much for their self-belief with Andrew Ryan, Jason Ryan, Mark McCarthy, Benny Dunne, Jake Ryan, Paul Ryan and Mark McCarthy their key figures.
All is not lost for Éire Óg, but they have a difficult final group game when they take on Kilruane MacDonagh's who are now facing the threat of relegation.
Éire Óg's cause was not helped by the loss of corner back Diarmuid Ryan to injury after only fourteen minutes while some poor decision making cost them scores and these are issues they will have to address before that crucial game.
Brian Fox was their top performer with Tom Fox, Dinny Crosse, Eoin Kennedy, Conor O'Brien and the accurate Aidan Griffin also to the fore.
Toomevara: Darren Cuddihy; Cathal Kennedy, Andrew Ryan, Liam Ryan; Jake Ryan, Jason Ryan (0-1), Darren Delaney; Josh McCarthy (0-1), Joey McLoughney (0-1); Colm Canning, Paul Ryan (0-2), Benny Dunne; Kevin McCarthy (1-0), Mark McCarthy (1-9, 0-8 frees), Jack Delaney. Subs: Luke Ryan for D Delaney (49th), Conor O'Meara for Canning (53rd).
Éire Óg Annacarty: Darragh Mooney (0-2); Kevin Fox (0-1), Eoin Bradshaw, Diarmuid Ryan; Brian Fox (0-2), Tom Fox (0-1), Paul Devlin; Conor O'Brien, Ronan O'Brien (0-1); Paidi O'Dwyer (0-2), Eoin Kennedy, Paul Downey (0-1); Seanie Ryan, Dinny Crosse, Aidan Griffin (0-7, 0-7 frees). Subs: Donal O'Dwyer (0-1) for D Ryan (14th), Connie Bradshaw for R O'Brien (50th).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Boherlahan-Dualla).