COUNTY ace Pa Bourke scored a winning goal deep in stoppage time as Thurles Sarsfields clinched a dramatic victory against Toomevara yesterday at Semple Stadium.
Bourke found the net from a 20-metre free with over two and a half minutes of stoppage time played as the champions booked a county final showdown with Clonoulty-Rossmore on October 31.
A generally poor game, played out in front of 6,826 spectators, finished in ugly fashion with a melee on the pitch after the final whistle and referee Seamus Roche appeared to be jostled as he tried to restore some order.
The final whistle sparked joyous celebrations from Thurles Sarsfields players, officials and spectators alike but one of their supporters was floored on the pitch before a bout of pushing and shoving broke out.
A tie that had been level seven times burst into life 13 minutes from time when Toomevara sub Eoin Brislane found the net at the Town End after Ken Dunne had sent in a long ball.
Seconds later, Sarsfields player Ger 'Redser' O'Grady received a straight red card following an off-the-ball altercation with Dunne and it appeared that the pendulum had swung firmly in Toomevara's favour.
In the closing minutes, the 2008 winners looked the stronger team and had surged two points clear -- 1-16 to 0-17 -- before they were caught in stoppage time. Brislane made a major impact with a 1-2 haul after coming on, but the big forward was left kicking himself at the finish after also registering three wides from scoreable positions.
Tommy Dunne's Toomevara side hit eight wides in the second period and in the first half, Ken Dunne was their solitary scorer with eight points.
Sars led by 0-9 to 0-8 at the midway point, but the real drama was reserved for the second half as the balance of power shifted from one team to the other. Toomevara looked the likeliest winners when Brislane's goal handed them a 1-13 to 0-15 advantage, but Sars were handed a lifeline when Denis Maher was fouled in stoppage time.
Up stepped Bourke, one of four Tipperary senior stars in the Sars starting line-up, and he found the bottom corner of the Killinan End net for a dramatic winning goal.
Scorers -- Thurles Sarsfields: P Bourke 1-6 (1-3f), M Gleeson and G O'Grady 0-3 each, L Corbett 0-2, A McCormack, R Ruth and S Lillis (0-1f) 0-1 each. Toomevara: K Dunne 0-10 (0-6f), E Brislane 1-2, J O'Brien 0-2, D Young and F Devaney 0-1 each.
THURLES SARSFIELDS -- P McCormack; D Maher, K O'Gorman, B O'Dwyer; D Kennedy, P Maher, M Cahill; A Kennedy, M Gleeson; D Maher, P Bourke, G O'Grady; A McCormack, L Corbett, J Enright. Subs: S Lillis for A Kennedy (35), R Ruth for McCormack (39), M O'Brien for Enright (42).
TOOMEVARA -- S Delaney; T Dunne, P Tuohy, A Ryan; J McLoughney, B Dunne, D Delaney; D Young, K Dunne; P O'Brien, F Devaney, B McCormack; W Ryan, J O'Brien, M Bevans. Subs: E Brislane for W Ryan (34), D Nolan for Bevans (47), J Delaney for Devaney (52).
Ref -- S Roche (Kilsheelan-Kilcash).