St Mary’s Clonmel team captain Shane O’Neill pictured accepting the cup from County Board chairman Michael Bourke at Golden on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Eamonn McGee
There was the real sense of an awakening at Golden on Saturday afternoon when St Mary’s Clonmel beat Gortnahoe-Glengoole by fourteen points in the final of the Tipperary Water County Intermediate Hurling Championship - St Mary’s have long represented a sleeping giant on the club hurling scene in the South of the county. But St Mary’s have been coming like a train and this emphatic win franks their progress. Indeed, the Clonmel club collected back-to-back county minor A hurling titles in 2015-2016 and also won the 2016 South under-21A title for the first time in twenty-eight years. St Mary’s are closing in on a tipping point and they know it. And, now the Clonmel lads have taken the next logical step - St Mary’s are a senior hurling club.
Tipperary Water County Intermediate
Hurling Championship Final
St Mary’s Clonmel 2-19
Although Gortnahoe-Glengoole tried valiantly and had the opportunities to make this decider a decent contest Hugh Coghlan and his management team would probably admit that St Mary’s Clonmel were the significantly more accomplished side.
Playing with the breeze in the opening half St Mary’s raced into a 0-13 to 0-4 interval lead and although team captain Shane O’Neill was required to save a Gortnahoe-Glengoole penalty the South champions looked reasonably comfortable. Gortnahoe did rally during the third quarter to close the gap to six (0-8 to 0-14), but St Mary’s won the remainder of this contest 2-5 to three points.
The speed of St Mary’s hurling, their use of the ball, off-the-shoulder support play and general good habits appeared distinctly superior to the Mid Tipperary champions. Indeed, Saturday’s performance suggests that Clonmel manager Michael Ryan (Waterford), coach Tony Shelley, selectors Billy Carroll, Seán O’Sullivan and Peter Egan and physical trainer DJ O’Dwyer have done a quality job on this group of players.
You might, for instance, have suspected that St Mary’s would require inter-county star Séamus Kennedy in their half-back line, but they did not. The Clonmel defence, which featured a number of young players, contested the aerial ball with real venom and were lightning quick onto the breaks. But then the key to this side emerged - St Mary’s were more than capable of moving the ball forward in a composed manner with the aforementioned Kennedy playing a key role at centre-forward.
Ross Peters, Richie Gunne, Jason Lonergan and Séamus Kennedy were outstanding for St Mary’s Clonmel while Jamie Peters in the middle of the field was a standout candidate for the man of the match award. Meanwhile David Nolan, Kevin Slattery and Ronan Teehan had their moments for an out-gunned Gortnahoe-Glengoole side.
A video of the presentation ceremony after St Mary’s Clonmel beat Gortnahoe-Glengoole 2-19 to 0-11 in the 2017 Tipperary Water County Intermediate Hurling Championship final at Golden.
St Mary’s started well with points from Jamie Peters, Séamus Kennedy and Seán Kennedy helping the South champions into a 0-3 to no-score lead inside the opening seven minutes.
During the frantic early exchanges Ronan Teehan had found the Clonmel side netting and Gortnahoe corner-back Martin Barnaville had performed a superb block to deny Dean Fitzgerald a certain goal before a third goal-scoring opportunity materialised in the eighth minute when Richie Gunne set up Darren Cass, but Glengoole ‘keeper Keith Corbett saved brilliantly.
A Séamus Kennedy ’65 preceded a superb solo effort from Ronan Teehan in the tenth minute before St Mary’s rattled off two more points which arrived courtesy of Gearóid Buckley and Séamus Kennedy - Clonmel led 0-6 to 0-1 after twelve minutes.
Dermot Lahart and Seán Kennedy traded frees before Kevin Slattery attempted to rouse the Gortnahoe-Glengoole team with an excellent catch, turn and strike in the 15th minute. Indeed, Slattery’s ability in the air is well-noted in Mid Tipperary and the Gortnahoe-Glengoole captain grabbed another searching delivery in the 17th minute and was fouled for a penalty - Ronan Teehan took responsibility for the placed ball, but St Mary’s captain Shane O’Neill got down well to his right and saved neatly.
Once more the respective free-takers traded placed balls and entering the final ten minutes of the opening half Gortnahoe-Glengoole were well in touch (0-4 to 0-8). St Mary’s, however, owned the remainder of the period and hit five points without reply to leave nine between them at the break (0-13 to 0-4).
Dean Fitzgerald, Richie Gunne, Jason Lonergan, Jamie Peters and Séamus Kennedy (free) accounted for these scores - Jamie Peters’ strike in the 28th minute was especially eye-catching as Dean Fitzgerald recycled the ball expertly out of his corner to create the opportunity for his midfielder who had timed his support run well.
Gortnahoe-Glengoole rallied during the opening five minutes of the second half when Dermot Lahart drilled over three placed balls (0-7 to 0-13). Seán Kennedy responded with a free for St Mary’s before an incident involved Séamus Kennedy illustrated the determination of the Clonmel side - in the 40th minute Keane Hayes beat his man and, probably, had goal on his mind, but Kennedy, working back from centre-forward, turned the Mid man over and cleared.
Dermot Lahart added another free to the Gortnahoe-Glengoole tally in the 42nd minute (0-8 to 0-14), but Richie Gunne emerged from a ruck a minute later and set-up Jason Lonergan for a lovely point. Then it was the turn of Seán Kennedy (free) and Keane Hayes to trade efforts.
The Gortnahoe-Glengoole challenge was probably still nourished by the thoughts of a potential comeback, but St Mary’s dismissed such ideas in the 49th minute - Séamus Kennedy’s searching sideline ball was batted back into the danger zone and there was Darren Cass to bury a first-time pull on the breaking ball (1-16 to 0-9).
Jason Lonergan and Ronan Teehan (free) then traded efforts before a scrambled Conor O’Sullivan goal was ruled out for a goalmouth infraction. The second half substitute would not be denied, however, in the 55th minute when Dean Fitzgerald’s clever flick picked out O’Sullivan and he buried a rasper. Jamie Peters capped his terrific individual display with a third point from play in the 58th minute before goalkeeper Shane O’Neill did well to save from Keane Hayes in the first minute of second half injury time. This final came to a conclusion with points from Keane Hayes and Adam Peters.
St Mary’s Clonmel: Shane O’Neill (captain), Joe Gunne, Kyle Peters, Paul Nolan, Liam Ryan, Ross Peters, Sammy Ryan, Richie Gunne (0-1), Jamie Peters (0-3), Jason Lonergan (0-3), Séamus Kennedy (0-4, 0-1 free, 0-1 ’65), Gearóid Buckley (0-1), Dean Fitzgerald (0-1), Darren Cass (1-0), Seán Kennedy (0-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: (HT) Gavin Ryan for Kyle Peters, (46th) Conor O’Sullivan (1-0) for Gearóid Buckley, (53rd) Matt Barlow for Seán Kennedy, (55th) Stephen Buckley for Dean Fitzgerald, (58th) Adam Peters (0-1) for Darren Cass.
Gortnahoe-Glengoole: Keith Corbett, Philly Purcell, Jamie Moriarty, Martin Barnaville, Willie Brennan, David Nolan, Enda McCarthy, Karl Collins, Eddie Stokes, Dermot Lahart (0-6, 0-6 frees), Aidan Guilfoyle, Liam Lanigan, Kevin Slattery (0-1), Ronan Teehan (0-2, 0-1 frees), Keane Hayes (0-2). Subs: (31st) Fionn Cleary for Karl Collins, (HT) Colm Guilfoyle for Willie Brennan, (46th) Tommy Duggan for Aidan Guilfoyle, (52nd) Ronan Stanley for Dermot Lahart, (62nd) Timmy Dunne for Liam Lanigan.
Referee: Philip Kelly (Ballinahinch).