Nenagh Éire Óg 2-18
Thurles Sarsfields 2-15

Fintan O’Toole reports from Semple Stadium

THURLES SARSFIELDS HAVE lorded Tipperary hurling in recent times, claiming seven of the last nine county senior titles and aiming to complete five-in-a-row this season.

But they were dethroned in Semple Stadium today, taken down at the semi-final stage by a Nenagh Éire Óg side who hit their stride from the off.

Last Saturday it had required the late heroics of Ronan Maher to dig out an improbable win for Thurles Sarsfields when he smashed home a goal to overhaul Kilruane McDonaghs. Against north Tipperary opponents again on this occasion, Maher billowed the net at the end but it couldn’t alter the outcome this time as they fell three points short.

Nenagh Éire Óg’s solitary final triumph came back in 1995, they will have a chance to add to that this year and atone for the crushing disappointment of 2013 and 2015 final reversals. They fully deserved this semi-final success, even though they had to endure an anxious last quarter.

The outstanding Michael Heffernan hit 0-9 for the victors with goals in either half from Andrew Coffey and Paddy Murphy also proving important moments. In front 1-10 to 0-5 at the interval, the advantage Nenagh Éire Óg enjoyed had swelled to ten points – 2-13 to 0-9 – after Murphy’s blasted strike to the net in the 44th minute.

Thurles Sarsfields mounted a powerful late rally. Denis Maher ignited their challenge with a goal and they hit a succession of points to trim the gap to three.

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Nenagh Éire Óg were clinging to their winning position and were indebted to a stunning save from goalkeeper Shane Hennessy to prevent Conor Stakelum from raising a green flag. They were in front 2-14 to 1-14 entering injury-time but managed to weather the storm and string together four points in succession – Heffernan, James Mackey, Philip Hickey and Jake Morris all on target.

Pa Bourke lashed a late free over the bar and Maher smashed a later free under the bar to the net but the deficit was insurmountable. Thurles Sarsfields bowed out, Nenagh Éire Óg qualified for a third final in six seasons.

Scorers for Nenagh Éire Óg: Michael Heffernan 0-9 (0-2 sideline, 0-1f), Andrew Coffey 1-1, Paddy Murphy 1-0, Jake Morris 0-3 (0-2f), Tommy Heffernan, Philip Hickey, Conor Ryan, James Mackey, Pearse Morris 0-1 each.

Scorers for Thurles Sarsfields: Aidan McCormack 0-6 (0-5f), Ronan Maher 1-2 (1-1f), Denis Maher 1-0, Pa Bourke 0-3 (0-1f), Rory Purcell 0-2, Stephen Cahill, Stephen Lillis 0-1 each.

Thurles Sarsfields

1. Patrick McCormack

4. Stephen Maher
7. Michael Cahill
2. Cathal Moloney

6. Padraic Maher (captain)

5. Stephen Lillis
17. Michael Purcell
3. Denis Maher

9. John Maher
12. Tommy Doyle

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13. Stephen Cahill
8. Ronan Maher
11. Aidan McCormack

10. Conor Stakelum
15. Pa Bourke

Subs

Nenagh Éire Óg

1. Shane Hennessy

3. Noel Maloney
4. Conor McCarthy

5. Daire Quinn

6. Hugh Maloney
7. Barry Heffernan
8. Pearse Morris

2. Conor Ryan
9. Killian Gleeson

14. Paddy Murphy
13. Jake Morris
15. Andrew Coffey

10. Philip Hickey
11. Michael Heffernan
12. Tommy Heffernan

Subs

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams)

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