St. Thomas of Galway advanced to the All-Ireland Club SHC Final after a convincing 0-15 to 0-07 win over the current All-Ireland Champions, Loughgiel Shamrocks.
After last week’s thrilling 1-25 to 3-19 stalemate, fireworks were once again expected in this semi-final match up. Loughgiel Shamrocks were lucky to escape with a replay the previous week and many expected them to hit the ground running in today’s game.
As predicted, Loughgiel Shamrocks started brightly but wasted three good goal chances in the first ten minutes. Liam Watson, Loughgiel talisman and scorer of the infamous equalising goal the previous week, tacked on a point to make it two points apiece early on. Loughgiel would later rue their missed goal opportunities as St. Thomas grew into the game with inter-county stars Kenneth Burke, David Burke and Conor Cooney leading the way to make it 0-05 to 0-02 with seventeen minutes on the clock.
Two Liam Watson frees kept Loughgiel within touching distance of their Galway opponents, but substitute Eanna Burke scored a wonderful long-range effort to make it 0-06 to 0-04. Eddie McCloskey scored Loughgiel’s only point from play in the first half to ensure the teams went in at half-time with just a point between them.
At the beginning of the second-half, Watson continued his accuracy from the placed-ball to level the game at six points apiece, but St. Thomas began to apply the pressure and went on a run of eight points without reply. Bernard Burke was instrumental in St. Thomas’ supremacy, as the game began to slip away from the defending champions. Four points from Conor Cooney, three from Burke and one from Richie Murray made it 0-14 to 0-06 and defeat looked inevitable for Loughgiel. They searched for some sort of reply, but the best the Antrim men could muster was another Liam Watson free.
Conor Cooney put the final nail in the Loughgiel Shamrocks coffin, as his point made it 0-15 to 0-07 and ensured St. Thomas a place in the final. They will now face Leinster champions Kilcormac-Killoughey of Offally on March 17th, in what is sure to be a day to remember.