BY NIALL SHERRY
ALL PIX DANNY LAHART
No glory for Henry as favourites crash out
Michael Lyng Motors Hyundai Intermediate Hurling Championship
Glenmore 0-19 Thomastown 1-13
Glenmore shook off their underdogs tag to hand Henry Shefflin a defeat in what would prove to be his final game in charge, before he heads west.
The second helping of the semi-final double bill at UPMC Nowlan Park had a little bit of everything, before Glenmore emerged 3-point winners.
Indeed, had the referee awarded a penalty late-on for what appeared to be a clear foul on John Donnelly, extra-time may well have been required to separate these two rivals.
The game ebbed and flowed right from the start. From the throw-in, Declan Wall’s side went on the attack. The ball found its way to Alan Murphy, who controlled it beautifully before taking his point. Shefflin’s side responded immediately via the Donnelly’s. John’s pass picked out Stephen, who split the posts to register his side’s first score of the day.
Thomastown appeared to be seeking out dangerous corner-forward Thomas ‘Tucker’ O’Hanrahan at every available opportunity, and when he took delivery of his first ball, he was impeded and the free awarded. Robbie Donnelly obliged and pointed from the placed ball.
County forward Alan Murphy then popped over a couple of successive free’s to put Glenmore one ahead. Thomastown corner-back Brian Murphy then won possession and drove the ball towards Tucker in the danger zone. Some slack Glenmore defending allowed O’Hanrahan to finish to the net for what was to be the game’s only major, and gave Henry’s team a 1-2 to 0-3 lead. Glenmore tried to hit back immediately and almost goaled, only for the ball to be put behind. Alan Murphy pointed from the resulting ‘65. Some good team-play allowed captain Ger Aylward to notch a lovely point just before the water break to leave the sides level, 1-2 to 0-5.
Worryingly from Glenmore’s point of view was the SEVEN wide’s amassed during the first period.
Some lose play from the Thomastown defence saw Ger collect the ball, before passing to Alan Murphy, who’s radar was on-point. County keeper, Eoin Murphy deployed at centre-back by his manager, was a controlling figure throughout proceedings and was dictating play, a la Padraig Walsh.
Despite their wastefulness during the first period, Glenmore were intent on playing some good hurling. This was underlined when Ian Byrne, Shane & Alan Murphy combined to set up Shane for a peach of a point. Shortly after, midfielder Philly Roche found Aylward who made no mistake and pointed. Then one of the scores of the day from Eoin Murphy was charged forward before hitting a magnificent point to move his side into a 4-point lead
Thomastown then got their first score in a while when Jonjo Farrell picked out John Donnelly, who in turn fed Tucker, who pointed despite the close attention of the Glenmore defence.
Glenmore continued to be rather wasteful, when it appeared easier to score. An Eoin Murphy wide in the 23rd minute made it 10 wides for his side. A foul on captain Aylward by Farrell gave the deadly Alan Murphy a chance from ‘65 out, chance taken and the 4-point lead restored.
Johnjo Farrell who was getting on plenty of ball, saw his run stopped by Roche, and Robbie Donnelly converted the placed ball.
Liam Hennessey, who had struggled to get into the game, then came striding forward, only to be fouled by the Thomastown defence. Guess what? Alan Murphy popped over the free. Alan would get another chance shortly after when brother Eoin was fouled by John Donnelly. Glenmore now led by five.
Wing-back Brian Staunton then collected the ball and surged forward, before being fouled. Robbie Donnelly, who was also in good from the placed ball, took the point before referee Peter Burke blew for the interval. Glenmore by 4.
Henry must have let his players know that they were lucky to still be in with a fighting chance at the break.
Substitute Dylan Caulfield played a long pass to O’Hanrahan who hit a fine point from over his shoulder. Staunton then delivered to Tucker, who fought off the attentions of full-back Eoin Aylward to notch another point to reduce the gap to 2 points.
Glenmore corner-forward Ian Byrne then fired over a lovely point, before Alan Murphy slotted over yet another free. From the puck-out, the ball broke to Stephen Donnelly whose arm was held and the free given. Robbie Donnelly did the rest.
Every time Henry’s charges closed the gap, Declan Wall’s side appeared to be able to get the next score, which was evidently frustrating to Shefflin. Right on cue, Liam Hennessey, who had hit two poor wides in the first half, fired over a sumptuous point. Thomastown then threw Craig Butler into the fray, and he had an immediate impact. He won possession before slipping the pass to Stephen Donnelly who said thank you very much and popped it over. At the water break Glemore held a 3-point lead.
When play resumed, Eoin Murphy gained control of the ball before finding Ian Byrne who split the posts for his second score of the day. Centre-back Murphy, then won a great high ball before charging forward. He laid the ball off to brother Shane who struck a stunner of a point.
Thomastown needed majors. They went in search of a green flag. A long ball into the Glemore full-back line broke to Peter McDonald who pointed, before being replaced. Brian Staunton was then adjudged to have fouled his man and Alan Murphy punished the defender by scoring from the free that followed. Hennessey, playing with much more confidence in the second half, then strode through the Thomastown rear-guard before notching another fine point, to leave the score 0-19 to 1-10.
Shefflin’s men did hit another 3-points in the time remaining, but it would be the decision not to award a penalty for what appeared to be a foul on their captain John Donnelly that would leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Thomastown camp. Henry was very animated on the sideline following the incident, and Glenmore mentor Maurice Aylward exchanged pleasantries with the new Galway manager before the final whistle. There would be no silver lining for Henry before his wild west adventure. Glenmore advanced to the final and on this showing, deservedly so.