Galway SHC Final: Thriller finishes level

Brooks Galway Senior Hurling Championship Final – Loughrea 0-20 St Thomas’ 1-17

By Billy Coss at Pearse Stadium

A Tiernan Killeen point deep in added time secured a draw for Loughrea at the end of a thrilling Galway Senior Hurling Championship final with five in-a-row chasing St. Thomas’.

Kenneth Burke’s side looked to have timed their run to perfection when Éanna Burke, scorer of 1-4, took a Conor Cooney pass and gave the reigning champions their first lead of the contest after 63 minutes.

Loughrea lost forward Darren Shaughnessy to a second yellow card inside the final quarter, but showed admirable composure to work the levelling score with the game’s final play – Paul Hoban, ‘keeper Gearóid Loughnane, Brian Keary and Neil Keary all involved before Killeen hit the target.

Loughrea have been a model of consistency this season, winning the Division 1 title and reaching the final with the competition’s only unbeaten record. Chasing their third title, Tommy Kelly’s side made a dream start when Martin McManus, the competition’s top marksman from play, struck three points inside two minutes of the throw-in.

With Neil Keary deadly accurate from placed balls and Oisín Coyle and Ian Hanrahan also finding the range, they raced into a 0-6 to 0-1 lead. Slowly but surely, Thomas’ worked their way back into matters with two Darragh Burke points having a settling effect along with some terrific Conor Cooney free-taking from distance.

Though Thomas’ hit the final two scores of the half through Cooney and Oisín Flannery, Loughrea’s 0-12 to 0-10 interval advantage was well deserved after playing with the wind.

That margin was cut to one after the restart, but it was a buffer Loughrea maintained and indeed extended to lead by 0-18 to 0-14 after 52 minutes thanks to a run of scores from captain Ian Hanrahan, McManus, Neil Keary and Joe Mooney.

St. Thomas’ were in deep trouble despite having an extra man advantage, but their challenge sparked to life in the closing stages. Damien McGlynn broke free, drew the cover and teed up Éanna Burke to crack home the day’s only goal on 53 minutes. Burke would then follow up with the equalising point two minutes later.

In what was a pulsating finale, Jamie Ryan pushed Loughrea within sight of the Tom Callanan Cup once more only for Conor Cooney’s eighth converted free to level and a further Éanna Burke point to tilt the balance back in St. Thomas’ favour.

There would be a final twist in the tale as Loughrea worked a last gasp scoring opportunity and Killeen held his nerve to ensure the neighbouring clubs must return to Pearse Stadium to do it all again next Sunday.

Scorers for Loughrea: Neil Keary 0-9 (8f), Martin McManus 0-4, Ian Hanrahan 0-2, Oisín Coyle 0-1, Dylan Shaughnessy 0-1, Joe Mooney 0-1, Jamie Ryan 0-1, Tiernan Killeen 0-1.

Scorers for St. Thomas’: Conor Cooney 0-9 (8f), Éanna Burke 1-4, Darragh Burke 0-2, Oisín Flannery 0-1, Victor Manso 0-1.

Loughrea: Gearóid Loughnane; Johnny Coen, Paul Hoban, Kieran Hanrahan; Ian Hanrahan (captain), Oisín Coyle, Brian Keary; Jamie Ryan, Tiernan Killeen; Darren Shaughnessy, Dylan Shaughnessy, Anthony Burns; Neil Keary, Martin McManus, Joe Mooney.

Subs: Seán Sweeney, for Ian Hanrahan, 58 mins; Shane O’Brien, for Burns, 60+1 mins; Caimin Killeen, for Dylan Shaughnessy, 60+1 mins.

St. Thomas’: Gerald Kelly; Cian Mahony, Fintan Burke, Cathal Burke; Evan Duggan, John Headd, Mark Caulfield; Bernard Burke, David Burke; Victor Manso, Conor Cooney (captain), Darragh Burke; Damien McGlynn, Éanna Burke, Oisín Flannery.

Subs: Shane Cooney, for Caulfield, half-time; Brendan Farrell, for Manso, 46 mins; Conor Headd, for John Headd, 58 mins; Damien Finnerty, for Bernard Burke, 60+3 mins.

Referee: Shane Hynes.