Skehill makes difference for St Thomas' 'one big family'
St Thomas 1-11 Gort 0-10
St Thomas' manager John Burke paid tribute to his tight-knit team after they deservedly edged out Gort in a hard-fought decider.
In a game that was never likely to reach its potential due to the inclement weather conditions at a sodden Pearse Stadium, Sean Skehill's goal 14 minutes from time proved crucial as St Thomas' finally claimed the lead their dominance deserved.
The 2012 winners were the better side before the interval, but still trailed by a point as Aidan Helebert led the Gort charge, but Conor Cooney edged him after the restart and his crucial frees and Skehill's goal won the day.
"We can go further but we will take it one step at a time. We will enjoy this and that's important," said Burke.
"It's a great win, absolutely unbelievable. That bunch of players, I knew it was in them to come again.
"It was our first day today to have a full panel of players to pick from.
"I knew if we got a performance out of them they were good enough to win it.
"They are so passionate, it's like one big family, and that's the way they are. They are all like brothers out there. They are wonderful young lads and I am delighted for them, absolutely thrilled for them."
Skehill poked past Gavin Lally for the lead goal, but the match winner could well have come from the other side, had Michael Mullins' goal not have been ruled out less than 60 seconds earlier due to a square ball.
Lally had earlier denied Skehill midway through the first-half with a super save when he was one-on-one with the keeper, but the first half was all about the free-takers, as Cooney and Helebert kept the scoreboard ticking over.
James Regan and Bernard Burke pointed well from play for Thomas' in the first-half, while a couple of Paul Killilea scores just before the interval earned Gort a 0-7 to 0-6 half-time advantage.
A Cooney free from his own 65, wide on the right, got St Thomas' level early in the second half and after he gave them the lead a couple of minutes later with another tough free, his side never trailed again.
Helebert missed three crucial frees for Gort around that time as he struggled playing into the teeth of the wind
And once Bernard Burke landed his second point after a tremendous interception, and Skehill followed it up with the goal, there was no way back for Gort.
Gort's Tadhg Linnane and St Thomas' Gerald Kelly were both shown straight red cards following an ugly incident in added-time, but there was no spoiling this party.
Scorers - St Thomas': C Cooney 0-6 (6fs), S Skehill 1-0, B Burke 0-2, Darragh Burke, J Regan, B Farrell 0-1. Gort: A Helebert 0-8 (6fs), P Killilea 0-2.
St Thomas' - P Skehill; F Burke, C Burke, E Burke; J Regan, S Cooney, D Cooney; B Burke, David Burke; C Cooney, Darragh Burke, D Sherry; B Farrell, S Skehill, K Burke. Subs: G Kelly for Darragh Burke (52); Darragh Burke for Sherry (54); A Kelly for S Skehill (58); C Fallon for K Burke (64).
Gort - Gavin Lally; T Linnane, M McMahon, M Cummins; P Lally, G Lally, A Harte; S Og Linnane, Jack Grealish; P Killilea, A Mullins, A Helebert; R Cummins, M Mullins, Jason Grealish. Subs: G O'Donoghue for A Mullins (36); W Walsh for G Lally (48).
Ref - L Fay (Athenry)