By Noel Dundon
Mid Tipperary Senior
Thurles Sarsfields 3-24
JK Bracken’s 0-14
Thurles Sarsfields turned on the style in the second half of this MacLochlainn Roadmarkings Mid senior hurling semi-final clash at The Ragg on Wednesday evening last to comfortably book their place in the decider having put JK Brackens to the sword.
The Thurles men shot 3-15 in the second half to JK Brackens 0-4 to whitewash their opponents who led at the interval by the narrowest of margins having played wind assisted. And, while the Templemore lads gave Sarsfields plenty to think about in that first half as they hit them with everything they had, the Blues opened up the play in the second, used the expanses of the perfectly manicured Ragg pitch, and picked off their scores with ease.
Sarsfields lined out without Michael Cahill or David Maher, both of whom suffered bone breaks in recent weeks, and the departure of Pa Bourke with ten minutes to go with a dislocated finger, put a real cloud on the Thurles win and cast doubt over his availability for Tipp in next Sunday’s Munster senior hurling final - Tipp selector Michael Gleeson and Manager Declan Ryan were both in attendance at the game.
Although Sarsfields were off the mark after just 13 seconds thanks to midfielder Michael Gleeson - son of the aforementioned Tipp selector - Brackens added three swift pointed frees from Shane Scully to put them into the driving seat. There they remained, in the scoring stakes at least, for the half with Scully adding three more, Shane Bourke two and Lorcan Egan one. However, the score of the half came from the sweet striking stick of the evergreen Eamon Corcoran as he floated a sideline ball between the sticks just before the break to give the initiative to Brackens 0-10 to 0-9. It was as good a cut as you will see.
Sarsfields had threatened the Brackens goal in the first half with a number of chances going abegging - Michael O’Brien was denied in the 26th and then Tommy Deegan beat away a Pa Bourke effort two minutes later. At that stage Brackens were three to the good with Sarsfields having gotten points from the impressive O’Brien (2), Pa Bourke (2) and Ger O’Grady. Redser’s move to the half forward line proved profitable as he added another to go along with Pa Bourke and Jim Corbett scores before the interval.
Johnny Enright, operating at midfield was having a big influence on the game, but Brackens were providing perfect ball to the Shane Bourke channel and it was proving useful for the Tipp star who was being marshalled by Stephen Lillis - the Thurles lads were not doing enough upfront to prevent Brackens from attacking from the back. And, had it not been for Padraic Maher who was a towering rock at the heart of the Thurles defence, the story could have been a lot different at the break.
Within seven minutes of the turnaround, the game was over as a contest. Ger O’Grady levelled the game after three minutes and almost from the puckout, Pa Bourke got onto a ball broken by Lar Corbett to fire Sars’ first goal. Corbett added a point and then Pa added his second goal in the 6th minute followed by a huge free from Johnny Enright to give Sarsfields an eight point lead.
Brackens probably knew there was no way back at this juncture but it didn’t stop them having a go. However, it was fire brigade action and they couldn’t prevent the inferno from spreading. Sarsfields flogged over points from Pa Bourke, Michael O’Brien, Denis Maher, Lar Corbett (2) Johnny Enright (2), Ger O’Grady, O’Brien again (Aidan McCormack (2) and Richie Ruth, while sub John Joe Bourke fired a 26th minute third goal to add to Brackens misery - they had second half scores from Shane Scully (2), sub Kevin Mulryan and Shane Bourke - a score which drew much amusement from the attendance as it appeared to be at least two yards wide. But, the officials held a goalmouth gathering and the white flag was raised - it mattered little considering the margin at the time.
It was vintage Sarsfields and they really showed their fire power up front. They had eleven scorers on the night and once they got the flow going they were unstoppable. Indeed, over elaboration in attack probably cost them a few more scores also - a fact which should be taken into consideration going forward.
Sarsfields had sterling performances from Padraic Maher, David Kennedy, Johnny Enright, and Michael O’Brien, while Jim Corbett broke up a lot of play at centre forward. Denis Maher is also returning to his best while Stephen Maher was very solid. Ger O’Grady had a very good second quarter and of course Pa Bourke firing 2-4, and Lar Corbett 0-3 were very worthy of note. The Blues will have sterner challenges ahead.
Brackens depended on the Shane Bourke/Shane Scully sources for scores and while Bourke got three from play, he did find the attentions of Stephen Lillis difficult to shrug off. Lillis, normally used to operating further outfield had been drafted back to marshal Bourke and did a decent job on him. Aidan Fogarty, Eamon Corcoran, Tommy Kennedy and Lorcan Egan toiled hard for Brackens, while Tommy Deegan made a few fine saves as well.
Brackens will be anxious to return to the first half form for the remainder of the championship rather that the kosh they were under in the second.
Sarsfields: P McCormack, S Maher, K O’Gorman, S Lillis, D Kennedy, P Maher, D Maher 0-1, M Gleeson 0-1, J Enright 0-3, L Corbett 0-3, J Corbett 0-1, P Bourke 2-4, M O’Brien 0-4, G O’Grady 0-4, A McCormack 0-2. Subs: R Ruth 0-1 for P Bourke; JJ Bourke 1-0 for M O’Brien.
JK Brackens: T Deegan, K Kennedy, R Bourke, P Bourke, T Kennedy, E Corcoran 0-1, B Guidera, C Scully, A Doyle, A Fogarty, L Egan 0-1, M Lynagh, S Bourke 0-3, S Scully 0-8, E Fitzpatrick. Subs: I Delaney for R Bourke; K Mulryan 0-1 for M Lynagh; M Doyle for Delaney; M Delahunty for A Fogarty.
Referee: M Hassett (Moycarkey Borris).