Experienced Toome too strong for Nenagh

Hibernian Inn North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship Toomevara 2-18 Nenagh Éire Óg 1-13

Hibernian Inn North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship

Toomevara 2-18 Nenagh Éire Óg 1-13

Toomevara booked their place in this year’s North Tipperary Senior Hurling Championship semi-finals with a decisive victory over a young Nenagh side at a blustery Dolla on Sunday evening last.

Toomevara fielded a full-strength side and with their experienced men all in top form they decisively put Nenagh to the sword thanks to a hugely impressive second-half performance. Nenagh fielded a young, fleet of foot side but proved no match for the guile and craft of a well-drilled Toomevara outfit.

Despite playing into the teeth of a stiff breeze and with conditions slippery underfoot following a light shower before throw-in Toomevara took the game to Nenagh right from the get-go with early points from Ken Dunne and John O’Brien coupled with a sixth minute Mark McCarthy goal ensuring a tonic start for the men in green and gold.

Nenagh’s response was immediate and incisive though with the Blues firing 1-3 without reply to seize the lead in the 14th minute. Points from Barry Heffernan (free), Kevin Tucker (free) and Michael Heffernan coupled with a sublimely struck Killian Gleeson goal put Nenagh back in the hunt.

The closing quarter of the half saw both sides trade point for point with Ken Dunne and John O’Brien on target for Toome’ while Kevin Tucker kept Nenagh on terms with his accurate freetaking exploits. Nenagh goalkeeper, Michael McNamara also denied Toomevara a second goal with a superb 21st minute save after Willie Ryan broke through the Nenagh cover.

While Toomevara continued to impress Nenagh’s attempts to forge ahead were compounded by a number of instances of poor shooting in front of goals while a number of unforced errors also hampered their progress.

Toomevara, on the other hand, were hurling within themselves and despite battling the elements they forged ahead with four minutes to the break thanks to impressive long-range points from Benny Dunne and Francis Devaney. Michael Heffernan brought Nenagh back on terms before late points from the impressive Devaney and Ken Dunne (free) ensured Toomevara took a deserved two-point lead to the dressing room, 1-9 to 1-7.

Nenagh enforced one change at the break with Donnacha Quinn coming on for midfielder, Alan Kelly. The Blues also made a number of positional switches with Hugh Maloney moving to midfield while substitute Quinn slipped in at corner-forward.

Prior to the re-start referee, John Cleary was called upon to calm matters following an altercation between Donnacha Quinn and John Boland, and it what proved a needly half of hurling he was called upon a number of times to restore order to proceedings.

Without doubt, Toomevara hit the ground running and within six minutes had raced into a eight point lead thanks to the accuracy of the hugely impressive John O’Brien. Two peach perfect points from the county star coupled with a well-taken Ken Dunne point and a 35th minute Willie Ryan goal put Toome’ well and truly in the driving seat. Michael Heffernan eventually responded for Nenagh but even at this early juncture the writing was on the wall for the Liam Heffernan’s side. Toomevara continued to pile on the pressure and with Benny Dunne, Joey McLoughney, David Young and Darren Delaney mopping up a sight of ball in midfield and defence Nenagh found it hard to break through the Toome’ cover.

A 42nd minute Ken Dunne point following a sweet flick for John O’Brien kept Toome’ ticking over before substitute Brian McCormack sent over a booming long-range effort to heap further misery on Eire Og. The impressive Joey McLoughney also got in on the act with a fantastic 45th minute effort from range before Ken Dunne set up brother Benny with a sublime crossfield ball to ensure Toome’ surged nine clear.

Donnacha Quinn kept Nenagh in touch with a three frees from placed balls but as a contest the game was effectively over.

The closing stages were niggly to say the least with a large schemozzle in front of the stand necessitating the intervention of the officials.

Matters quickly calmed though and fittingly it was the mercurial Ken Dunne who brought proceedings to a end with a late Toomevara free to ensure a north semi-final berth for last year’s beaten finalists.

Toomevara, with Joey McLoughney, David Young, Benny Dunne, Ken Dunne, Francis Devaney and John O’Brien all very much on song, were full value for their eight-point victory and despite the best Nenagh could muster they just weren’t at the same level in terms of movement and effectiveness. Toomevara’s economical use of possession provided the platform for most of their scores and the fact they bagged 2-14 from play compared to Eire Og’s 1-5 bears testament to this.

Nenagh can take heart from the fact that they have impressed throughout this year’s north senior championship with a young team that are sure to grow in stature through their participation in the upcoming county championship.

Toomevara, on the other hand, are shaping up nicely and will be many people’s favourites to go one step better than last year and lift the Frank McGrath cup once again.

Scorers - Toomevara: K. Dunne 0-8 (0-4f); J. O’Brien 0-4; M. McCarthy 1-0; W. Ryan 1-0; B. Dunne and F. Devaney 0-2 each; J. McLoughney and B. McCormack 0-1 each. Nenagh Eire Og: K. Tucker 0-5 (0-3f); Donnacha Quinn 0-4f; K. Gleeson 1-0; M. Heffernan 0-3; B. Heffernan 0-1f.

Teams: Toomevara: Darren Cuddihy, Cathal Kennedy, Andrew Ryan, John Boland; Joey McLoughney, David Young, Darren Delaney; Benny Dunne, Jason Ryan; John Delaney, Francis Devaney, Ken Dunne; Willie Ryan, John O’Brien, Mark McCarthy. Subs: Brian McCormack for Ryan (42); Colm Canning for Delaney (49); David Nolan for Kennedy (60).

Nenagh Eire Og: Michael McManara, Adam Grattan, Noel Maloney, John Brennan; Daire Quinn, Barry Heffernan, Billy Heffernan, Alan Kelly, Pearse Morris; Paddy Murphy, Hugh Maloney, Kevin Tucker; Killian Gleeson, Michael Heffernan, Tommy Heffernan. Subs: Donnacha Quinn for Kelly (H/T); Sean Geaney for Tucker; Mark Flannery for Grattan (48); James Mackey for Gleeson (50).

Referee: John Cleary (Knockshegowna).