Thurles Sarsfields dispatched a tame Tubber challenge in a Munster Junior B Hurling Championship semi-final played at Raheenagh in County Limerick on Sunday afternoon.
Munster Junior B Hurling Championship Semi-Final
Thurles Sarsfields 2-10 Tubber (Clare) 0-3
Sarsfields appeared the far more accomplished outfit in this contest. Thurles did all the hurling and comfortably coped with Tubber’s back-to-front style of play. Indeed, with John Lillis in top form at full-back Tubber struggled to make any sort of impression on the Sarsfields defence - the Clare champions failed to score a point from play.
In contrast the Tipperary champions pieced together some smashing moves with right wing-back Tom Tierney picking out his forwards with smashing deliveries throughout this semi-final. Centre-back Stevie Fewer also had an assured outing at six, David Bourke and Jim Corbett dominated midfield, Mathew Kelly was terrific at corner-forward, Pa Crone landed three points from play and Mathew Fogarty was outstanding at centre-forward.
The Blues will now take on Bruff (Limerick) or Killavullen (Cork) in the provincial final on Sunday, January 14th at Raheenagh. The tournament has been hosted by the Killeedy GAA club for some years now and twelve months ago Upperchurch-Drombane progressed to the provincial final - the Mid men lost both the Munster decider and the All-Ireland final to Whitechurch (Cork) while Thurles Sarsfields also lost the provincial final to Cork opposition (Doneraile) in 2011.
Tubber opened the scoring in the first minute when Justin McMahon converted a ’65 and although it took all of ten minutes for Thurles to open their account Sarsfields always appeared the more accomplished hurling outfit.
Tom Tierney, who must have had a pain in his arm from pinging ball around the field on Sunday, set up David Bourke for a smashing left-handed equaliser before the Blues conjured a terrific goal in the 11th minute - Mathew Fogarty grabbed a Stevie Fewer delivery and smartly off-loaded to corner-forward Mathew Kelly who buried a left-handed shot (1-1 to 0-1).
Pa Crone set up Jim Corbett for a smashing point two minutes later before a James Taaffe free brought nineteen scoreless minutes to a conclusion for Tubber in the 20th minute (1-2 to 0-2).
Thurles pieced together another smashing move in the 23rd minute when Pa Crone and Séamie Doyle combined to create a scoring chance for Mathew Kelly. Crone added a point of his own soon after and with John Lillis gobbling up ball after ball at the opposite end of the field Tubber already looked in deep trouble.
Séamie Doyle landed a nice point off his left before Conor Moloney recycled smartly to Pa Crone in the 29th minute and the wing-forward made no mistake to leave seven between them (1-6 to 0-2).
Then, on the stroke of half-time, Thurles Sarsfields plundered a second goal to force the Tipperary champions into a ten-point interval lead. David Bourke picked out Jack O’Dwyer; O’Dwyer found the supporting run of Mathew Fogarty and the centre-forward shortened his grip neatly before firing home off his right (2-6 to 0-2).
Tubber’s final score materialised courtesy of a James Taaffe free six minutes into the second half, but Sarsfields were far from finished.
Tom Tierney set up Mathew Kelly for a point in the 47th minute which, happily, brought a bad-tempered period of the game to a conclusion. Indeed, one notable member of the Tubber team was fortunate not to see red during the third quarter.
In the 52nd Mathew Fogarty provided the assist for a Pa Crone strike before Mark Purcell and David Bourke (free) completed the scoring from a Thurles point of view.
The Thurles Sarsfields team is managed by Pat Ryan, Martin Fitzpatrick, Jamie Barrett and Liam Duggan.
Thurles Sarsfields: Matt O’Brien, Gary Healy, John Lillis, Peter Maher, Glen Kerrigan, Stevie Fewer, Tom Tierney, David Bourke (0-2, 0-1 frees), Jim Corbett (0-1), Pa Crone (0-3), Mathew Fogarty (1-0), Jack O’Dwyer, Mathew Kelly (1-2), Conor Moloney, Séamie Doyle (0-1). Subs: (57th) Mark Purcell (0-1) for Séamie Doyle, (57th) TJ Dwyer for Pa Crone, (60th) Conor Cassidy for Gary Healy, (61st) Anthony Guinan for Mathew Kelly.
Tubber (Clare): Cathal O’Grady, Dermot Taaffe, Ger Brohan, David Fogarty, Michéal Kelly, Justin McMahon (0-1, 0-1 ‘65s), Shaun Naughton, Cyril Cunningham, Seaghan Brosnan, Gerard O’Connor, Shane Lee, Damien Quinn, Kevin Conroy, Cathal Murray, James Taaffe (0-2, 0-2 frees). Subs: (HT) Cillian Droney for Damien Quinn, (41st) David Conroy for Kevin Conroy, (44th) Shane Monahan for Shane Lee.
Referee: Donnacha O'Callaghan (Limerick).