Clean Ireland Recycling
County Senior Hurling Semi-Final
A gallant Borris-Ileigh side fell agonisingly short to favourites Loughmore-Castleiney at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Sunday afternoon.
For the vast majority of this encounter Loughmore-Castleiney set the pace, but Borris-Ileigh, thanks to the heroics of Brendan Maher, closed the gap to manageable proportions late on. Indeed, Brendan Maher enjoyed an opportunity to win it, but the inter-county star’s shot screamed narrowly wide.
To be fair Loughmore-Castleiney hardly deserved to lose. With John Meagher outstanding at centre-back the men from Mid Tipperary moved the ball smartly and posed the greater attacking threat.
The sides traded points early on before efforts from Cian Hennessy and Noel McGrath forced Loughmore-Castleiney into a 0-3 to 0-1.
Despite playing into the breeze Loughmore-Castleiney notched another point thanks to Noel McGrath (’65) and led 0-4 to 0-1 by the 13th minute.
Borris-Ileigh’s first score in seventeen minutes arrived courtesy of a Brendan Maher free and was quickly added to by Conor Kenny. Then, in the 19th minute, Brendan Maher scored a fantastic point off his left - 0-4 apiece.
Noel McGrath and Dan McCormack then traded efforts before Borris-Ileigh turned over a poor Loughmore-Castleiney clearance and Conor Kenny handed Borris-Ileigh a 0-6 to 0-5 lead in the 27th minute.
A minute later Loughmore-Castleiney plundered a vital goal. The Borris-Ileigh defence looked to have John McGrath bottled up, but the wing-forward conjured a great pass off his knees to Liam McGrath who in turn picked out Cian Hennessy and Hennessy handed his side a 1-5 to 0-6 lead.
Borris-Ileigh’s Conor Kenny enjoyed the final say in the opening half - 1-5 to 0-7.
Immediately after the break a Noel McGrath point forced Loughmore-Castleiney two clear as Eddie Connolly switched to full-back to deal with the threat posed by Conor Kenny. A converted Brendan Maher free left one between them before Loughmore-Castleiney’s Liam McGrath gladly converted two placed balls of his own. A glorious flick of the hand from Noel McGrath in the 40th created the room for Evan Sweeney to shoot, but Borris-Ileigh ‘keeper Jack Bourke advanced to deflect the ball out for a ’65 which Noel McGrath converted - 1-10 to 0-8.
Facing the breeze Borris-Ileigh needed some encouragement and found it in the 43rd minute when Rory Kinane scrambled home Brendan Maher’s sideline ball to leave just two between them. A Keith Ryan point reduced the deficit to one by the 48th minute.
Tom King and Conor Kenny then traded points, but sensing that Borris-Ileigh were growing in confidence Loughmore-Castleiney upped their performance considerably and hit four points without reply to lead 1-15 to 1-10 with nine minutes to play - Cian Hennessy (two), Aidan McGrath and John McGrath were responsible for these efforts.
Borris-Ileigh opted to move Brendan Maher to full-forward with time running out and in the 56th minute Maher earned a converted a free to leave four between them - 1-15 to 1-11.
At the opposite end of the field Liam McGrath won a great ball and smacked over a superb point to force Loughmore-Castleiney back into a five-point lead in the 57th minute. That reprieve proved merely temporary however as Brendan Maher diverted William Donnelly’s teasing ball passed a stranded Shane Nolan in the 58th minute to leave just two in it - 1-16 to 2-11.
Right on the hour mark a John McGrath point helped Loughmore-Castleiney into a three-point lead, but just seconds later Brendan Maher was fouled on the edge of the square. Maher converted the resultant opportunity to leave this one delicately poised in injury time.
In the 62nd minute William Donnelly picked out Brendan Maher once more, but Maher’s rasping shot flew narrowly wide.
Loughmore-Castleiney: Shane Nolan, Eddie Connolly, Derek Bourke, Joseph Hennessy, Aidan McGrath (0-1), John Meagher, Tom King (0-1), Ciarán McGrath, Tomás McGrath, John McGrath (0-2), David Kennedy, Cian Hennessy (1-3), Noel McGrath (0-5, 0-3 ‘65s), Evan Sweeney, Liam McGrath (0-5, 0-4 frees). Subs: (44th) Micheál Webster for David Kennedy.
Borris-Ileigh: Jack Bourke, Martin Treacy, Philip Maher, Seán Maher, Rory Kinane (1-0), Paddy Stapleton, Séamus Bourke, Brendan Maher (1-6, 0-4 frees), Vincent Stapleton, David O’Connor, Dan McCormack (0-1), Keith Ryan (0-1), Benny Harkin, Conor Kenny (0-4), Kieran Maher. Subs: (38th) William Donnelly for Kieran Maher, (38th) Mark Bourke for David O’Connor, (44th) Mathew Stapleton for Benny Harkin, (55th) Thomas Fahey for Séamus Bourke.
Referee: Fergal Horgan (Knockavilla Kichams).