Sunday 17 February 2019

Saints toast Sherry as late point seals final return

St Thomas' 0-18 Cushendall 2-11

St Thomas’ just about held on in a tense endgame (stock photo)
St Thomas’ just about held on in a tense endgame (stock photo)
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

David Sherry was the unlikeliest of heroes for St Thomas' as an injury-time point from the corner-back broke the hearts of Ruairí Óg Cushendall in a pulsating All-Ireland club-semi-final in Parnell Park yesterday afternoon.

It looked like 2013 All-Ireland champions St Thomas' were strolling back to Croke Park on St Patrick's Day when leading by a comfortable seven points at the break, 0-13 to 1-3, but the Antrim and Ulster champions refused to give in.

Buoyed by Fergus McCambridge's 41st-minute goal, Eamon Gillan's side roared back into contention and were level 15 minutes later when the magnificent Neil McManus pointed a '65 to ensure a titanic finale.

The game was on a knife edge and it looked like Cushendall might produce yet another famous upset only for Sherry to drift forward and send over a superb effort from the left wing deep into injury-time to book their final place. Cushendall were handed a dream start when awarded an early penalty which McManus coolly slotted to the net but the Galway champions quickly found their stride and left their stamp on the game.

The Burkes were on fire for Kevin Lally's side with points from Éanna, Kenneth, Bernard and free-taker Darragh as they took full advantage of the stiff wind at their backs to power into a 0-9 to 1-1 lead.

Seán McAfee hit Cushendall's only score from play in the 25th minute to momentarily break their resistance but St Thomas' powered on to the break with four of the last five points leaving them with a handsome lead. It looked done and dusted at that stage but Ruairí Óg were a different side after the break and hit 1-4 in the opening quarter to roar back into contention, with McCambridge's goal the catalyst for their resurgence.

All of a sudden St Thomas' were edgy but points from Darragh Burke and James Regan helped to settled nerves. Cushendall weren't finished, however, and two placed balls from McManus drew them level with injury-time approaching.

Up stepped Sherry with the nerveless match-winner but Cushendall will rue a late chance for Donal McNaughton. He had the opportunity to point but instead went for goal and his effort was excellently saved by Cathal Burke as St Thomas' just about held on in a tense endgame.

Scorers - St Thomas': Darragh Burke 0-6 (4f); E Burke 0-3; B Burke and J Regan 0-2; C Cooney, K Burke, D McGlynn, S Cooney (f), D Sherry 0-1 each. Cushendall: N McManus 1-6 (1-0 pen, 4f, 2 '65), F McCambridge 1-1, P McGill 0-2, S McAfee and E Campbell 0-1 each.

St Thomas': G Murray; C Mahoney, C Burke, D Sherry; D Cooney, S Cooney, F Burke; J Regan, David Burke; C Cooney, Darragh Burke, B Burke; E Burke, B Farrell, K Burke. Subs: D McGlynn for K Burke inj (35), S Skehill for Farrell (58).

Cushendall: E Gillan; D Kearney, M Burke, S Delargy; E Campbell, A Graffin, P Burke; F McCambridge, N McManus; D McNaughton, E McKillop, R McCambridge; P McGill, S McAfee, A Delargy. Subs: C Carson for R McCambridge (h-t), S Walsh for S Delargy (54).

Referee: P O'Dwyer (Carlow)

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