Nenagh Éire Óg’s senior campaign came to an end at Semple Stadium on Sunday afternoon when Liam Heffernan’s men came undone thanks to an Aidan McCormack free in the final minute of extra-time. The Blues walked out of Semple Stadium with their heads held high following a determined display which featured all of the positive values that we have come to associate with this group of players.
Clean Ireland Recycling County Senior
Hurling Championship Quarter-Final
Nenagh Éire Óg 0-19 Thurles Sarsfields 0-20
An Aidan McCormack free presented Thurles with the lead in the second minute, but Éire Óg hit back through Tommy Heffernan and Donnacha Quinn (free) to take a 0-2 to 0-1 lead by the tenth. Aidan McCormack (free) tied the game once more before Pádraic Maher’s fantastic block in the 13th minute denied Michael Heffernan a goal. Two minutes later Donnacha Quinn (’65) forced Éire Óg back into the lead and Quinn added a free in the 19th minute following a foul on Richie Flannery.
A Stephen Cahill point in the 21st minute reduced Éire Óg’s lead to one. Tommy Heffernan struck from play once more for the Blues and although an Aidan McCormack free encouraged Sarsfields a brace of late points from Paddy Murphy handed Éire Óg a 0-7 to 0-4 interval lead.
Paddy McCormack’s reaction save denied Donnacha Quinn a goal in the first minute of the second half, but Quinn converted the resultant ’65 and the Blues led 0-8 to 0-4. An Aidan McCormack effort dragged Thurles to within three of the Blues before Michael McNamara denied Stephen Cahill a goal with a stunning save in the 38th minute. Aidan McCormack converted the resultant ’65 to leave two between them.
Thurles corner-forward Michael O’Brien smacked over two points in two minutes to tie the game at 0-8 apiece by the 42nd minute. Sarsfields had now scored four points without reply and extended that scoring sequence with an Aidan McCormack point from play in the 43rd minute. Seconds later Michael McNamara made a second top class save to deny Pa Bourke a three-pointer.
Éire Óg were now trailing for the first time since the second minute and responded with a display of raw guts.
In the 44th minute Tommy Heffernan won a free which Donnacha Quinn converted and although points from Richie Ruth and Aidan McCormack forced Thurles into a 0-11 to 0-9 the Blues were fighting hard for every ball.
With ten minutes to play Michael Heffernan roused Éire Óg supporters when turning over a Thurles defender and belting over a great point. Heffernan was on hand once more in the 52nd minute to take a pass from Hugh Maloney and land an equaliser – 0-11 apiece.
Aidan McCormack fired Thurles back into a precious lead, but Éire Óg responded in kind when Michael Heffernan swung over a sideline ball to tie the game once more with five minutes to play.
Billy Heffernan heroically blocked a Denis Maher goal chance in the 56th minute. Unfortunately, Maher gathered the rebound and took his point. Aidan McCormack converted a free with a minute to play to hand Sarsfields a 0-14 to 0-12 lead as this game ticked into injury time.
Éire Óg battled gamely on with injury time points from Paul Ryan and Tommy Heffernan dragging the Blues back into contention.
Noel Maloney was harshly penalised for charging in the 64th minute – Thurles’ Aidan McCormack was presented with a very awkward placed ball to win the game, but McCormack’s effort drifted agonisingly wide of the right-hand post. It finished 0-14 apiece.
Wing-back Michael Gleeson handed Thurles the lead in the opening minute of extra-time, but Éire Óg struck back with a Donnacha Quinn free following a foul on the highly-influential Paddy Murphy. Paul Ryan, Michael Heffernan and Paddy Murphy then landed terrific points from play to hand Éire Óg a 0-18 to 0-15 lead.
Thurles re-grouped with two Aidan McCormack points (one free) to leave one between them at the break (0-18 to 0-17).
A Conor Lanigan point tied the game before a Michael Heffernan free following a foul on Paddy Murphy handed Éire Óg a precious lead. To their credit Thurles Sarsfields won and converted an equalising free in the 73rd minute.
The following seven minutes remained scoreless as both sides desperately sought out a vital edge.
Thurles finally got a break in the 80th minute when winning a free deep inside their own half. Aidan McCormack took responsibility for the placed ball and landed a magnificent winning point from eight metres inside his own ’65.
Nenagh Éire Óg would like to thank the entire panel of players for the manner in which they represented the club, their families and themselves during the campaign – Sunday represented the senior team’s 16th competitive game (won 14, one draw and lost one by a point).
Nenagh Éire Óg would also like to thank the management team for all of their efforts this year – namely Liam Heffernan (manager), John Fitzgerald (coach), Enda Costello (selector) and Noel Coffey (selector).
The Blues would also like to wish Thurles Sarsfields all the very best in next weekend’s county semi-final.
Nenagh Éire Óg: Michael McNamara, Mark Flannery, Noel Maloney (captain), John Brennan, Dáire Quinn, Hugh Maloney, Barry Heffernan, Kevin Tucker, Andrew Coffey, Pearse Morris, Michael Heffernan (0-5, 0-1 free, 0-1 sideline), Tommy Heffernan (0-3), Donnacha Quinn (0-6, 0-4 frees, 0-2 ‘65s), Paddy Murphy (0-3), Killian Gleeson. Subs: (16th) Richie Flannery for Killian Gleeson, (38th) James Mackey for Kevin Tucker, (48th) Billy Heffernan for John Brennan, (52nd) Paul Ryan (0-2) for Richie Flannery, (60th) Conor Ryan for Andrew Coffey, (68th) Andrew Coffey for Conor Ryan, (76th) John Brennan for Mark Flannery.
Thurles Sarsfields: Paddy McCormack, Stephen Maher, Michael Cahill, David Maher, Ronan Maher, Pádraic Maher, Michael Gleeson (0-1), Stephen Cahill (0-1), Billy McCarthy, Denis Maher (0-1), Lar Corbett, Aidan McCormack (0-13, 0-7 frees, 0-1 ‘65s), Michael O’Brien (0-2), Pa Bourke, Richie Ruth (0-1). Subs: (55th) Kevin O’Gorman for Stephen Maher, (63rd) Conor Lanigan (0-1) for Richie Ruth, (74th) Ger O’Grady for Michael O’Brien, (79th) John Maher for Ronan Maher.
Referee: John O’Brien (Arravale Rovers).
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