Causeway from Kerry won the Tom Semple Cup, the premier competition at the Thurles Sarsfields International Hurling Festival last week-end.
The outsiders were full value for their 1-11 to 1-5 win over a highly fancied Emeralds, Unrlingford side in a very competitive final that brought the curtain down on a most successful weekends hurling. To underline the strength of their challenge for the honours, Causeway had beaten the holders for the past two years, Kilburn Gaels of London in the semi-final.
After the game the Tom Semple Cup was presented to the winners by Ann Gunning and Martin Semple, son and daughter of the late Tom Semple, whose grandson, T J Semple, former Sarsfields and Tipperary hurler was also in attendance. Martin travelled with his wife Joanne from the United States for the festival, while Ann was and her husband Sean Gunning came down from Dublin.
The Jackie Carew Cup, contested by clubs which finished second in their groups, was won by Setanta of Dublin who beat Sarsfields junior side 2-7 to 0-9 in the final. The Dublin side included former Sarsfields players , Colm O Rourke and Peter Ryan.
The Culhane Cup, for the third placed teams in the sections, was won by Setanta of Donegal who comfortably defeated Naomh Monnine of Louth in the final. The Louth team was led by another former Sarsfields player, Ger Collins.
The eight team camogie tournament, staged at St Patrick’s College by kind permission, was won by Na Piarasigh, Cork who defeated American visitors Indianapolis in the final and received the Helen O Mara Cup, presented to them by Tony O Mara, son of the late Helen, a leading figure in camogie circles in Thurles and the county for many years.
The festival was not all about hurling. For the second year road bowling featured and in energy-sapping sunshine on Friday afternoon at Cormackstown Road, the Cork duo, representing Munster, won the Michael Cusack Cup. Four Sarsfields’ hurlers, three of last year’s Tipperary All-Ireland minor hurling title winning team, Ronan Maher, Stephen Cahill, Conor Lanigan, along with Sarsfields assistant secretary, John Maher, took part in an exhibition game.
A big attraction at this year’s festival, which was part of the IPB Insurance sponsored- “The Gathering” in North Tipperary was the Caman Abu tournament. This featured sixteen seven-a-side teams, comprising men and women, representing various pubs, societies, and businesses in the area, who delighted large attendances at the preliminary rounds on Wednesday night and at the finals on Friday night, with their efforts at this non-contact recreational hurling. The Tesco team won the final with An Post taking the shield final. Both deciders went to penalties, adding greatly to the fun and excitement. The trophies were presented by Mr Pat Daly of the Croke Park staff.
A new game, Target Ball, was introduced, which afforded special needs people an opportunity to engage in a ball-throwing competition was inaugurated by the road bowling association and held at Sarsfields Social centre on Friday morning.
At the official opening of the festival on Friday night, Sarsfields Chairman, Michael Maher, welcomed all the visitors and said that the club was honoured that the festival should be part of The Gathering in North Tipperary. He thanked the sponsors, IPB Insurance, North Tipperary Co Counil and in particular Attracta Lyons and Matt Shortt for their help in its organisation.
John Enright, chairman of the organising committee hoped that the many visitors from Indianapolis and St Louis in the United States, and those in England, and the four provinces in Ireland would enjoy their experience of the festival and Thurles.