Brooks Group Sponsored Senior Hurling Championship Final Replay

Sunday November 27th 2022

Time: 1:00 PM

Venue: Pearse Stadium

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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.

By Cian O’Connell

“It took a bit of a twist alright,” Kenneth Burke laughs when asked whether becoming St Thomas’ manager
at a young age was by accident or design.

“Obviously Kevin Lally was very successful in his three years there,” Burke adds. “He stepped down then.
The club were looking to get someone and they weren't finding it too easy to get someone. I suppose it
was a bit of a poisoned chalice, nobody really wanted to take it because where else do you go?

“I knew there was still potential in the team, that there was nobody retiring. I just took a chance on it.
I obviously know them very well, I played with them which can be good and bad. It was a bit
of a mad decision at the time, but it has worked out so far.”

Undoubtedly demanding to maintain the high standards that have been set during the past
decade, Burke still relishes the mission.

“If it is not a challenge it isn't going to push you are make you better,” he replies. “I have great
guys around me for the last couple of years, it is about getting people around you that will support
you too. Cathal, Adrian, Tommy, and PJ, and other guys are doing massive work which helps.”

Tommy Fitzgerald’s impact as a coach perfectly illustrates how Thomas’ have been
able to identify people from other counties – such as Dinny Cahill and TJ Ryan previously – to provide relevant guidance.

“We are trying to get a guy at the start that will push us on, that will give us another edge,” Burke explains.
“Tommy has definitely done that.


Six Burke brothers won AIB All-Ireland Club SHC medals with St Thomas' in 2013.
Six Burke brothers won AIB All-Ireland Club SHC medals with St Thomas' in 2013.


“He wouldn't have known any of us at all, he'd have been looking at Galway hurling from the outside, probably knowing a bit.
He has brought a different perspective, he has a different attitude, he has pushed lads on, and has made them better.”

St Thomas’ have claimed four Galway SHC titles on the spin, and six since winning for the first time in 2012. It is a remarkable time
for the club, who came within a whisker of beating Ballyhale Shamrocks in a dramatic AIB All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final in January.

“Obviously after losing that game you're thinking it is a long road to try to get back there,” Burke says. “We just took a few weeks
off. After a couple of weeks the county lads went back playing with the county again.

“We regrouped, did a couple of sessions, we played the few league games just to get them back on the road. You have to
make your target at the start of the year. We made little targets, getting ready for the group stages, to get them up to speed and to be as fit as we can, to try to get out of the group.

“Just to go that way, to build it from there. That is all you can do and try to bring on a few younger guys, to get them to be ready for the championship.

“You have a lot of guys there with a lot of miles on the clock so it is a balancing act to keep them fit and to get enough fitness
into the younger guys to get them up to speed. It is challenging, but it is enjoyable too.”

Growing up in the Burke house hurling always dominated the conservations. Six brothers played in a team managed by father
John in the 2013 AIB All-Ireland Club SHC success. David Burke captained Galway to All-Ireland glory in 2017.


St Thomas' coach Tommy Fitzgerald and goalkeeper Gerald Kelly following the AIB All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final loss against Ballyhale Shamrocks in January.
St Thomas' coach Tommy Fitzgerald and goalkeeper Gerald Kelly following the AIB All-Ireland Club SHC semi-final loss against Ballyhale Shamrocks in January.


The passion and desire can be traced back to the early years. “It was everything, every day of the week you were
hurling with the club or the school or going off with the county,” Burke says.

“Then when the younger brothers came along they were all hurling too. There was always someone going somewhere to
play a match or there was a match to go to. Someone was being brought to a match.

“It is very enjoyable, that is what we do. We have made massive friends down through the years with it and it is
part of life. That is what we do.”

Sunday’s Galway SHC decider against Loughrea is the next tale in the Thomas’ story. Burke acknowledges that the
familiarity with Loughrea adds an extra layer of intrigue. “It definitely does,” Burke responds.

“We all know each other fairly well, a lot of the guys went to school there bar the few that went to Gort. It gives
another edge when lads know each other so well.

“They will probably be out with each other over the Christmas. Again it is just about who performs well on the day,
and whoever gets over the line. You give your best, if it doesn't get you over the line it doesn't. That is all you can do.”

It is a policy that continues to serve St Thomas’ well.


By Cian O’Connell

“It is all about the kids and the future of Loughrea,” manager Tommy Kelly says ahead of Sunday’s eagerly anticipated
Brooks Galway SHC Final against a decorated St Thomas’ outfit at Pearse Stadium.

The past, present, and future of Loughrea have forged a meaningful connection. “That is the way we are looking
at it, that the next generation will have a hurl in their hand again, to try to drive it on again,” he adds.

“We had a great U14 team this year, I think our senior team were looking up to them, they have shown us the way.”

Momentum has been generated by Loughrea with Kelly’s backroom sprinkled with players, who were involved when
Loughrea last won a county title 16 years ago.
“A good few of us have a medal out of '06 in the backroom staff, and we are very proud of that - there was no
guy brought into that management team just because they had a medal in their pocket,
they were brought in because they were very, very good coaches, and they are top, top class,” Kelly remarks.

Several of them have operated training teams at inter-county level. “From Shane (Cusack), Greg (Kennedy),
Gavin (Keary), and Nigel (Murray) - the hurling coaches - Alan Curley and
Mike Quinn in the backroom staff and the medics have been top class too,” he says.
“It is a unit with Kelvin our s and c coach too, it is a unit that has come together.
I'm delighted because without those guys you have nothing.”

The experienced acquired by Kelly and the coaches matters. The well regarded Kelly
has been involved with Clare and Dublin in recent years.

“It makes a big occasion nice and relaxed,” he responds. “I was lucky enough to be involved with
Dublin for three years and with Clare for two years before that and with Cuala too
winning the couple of All-Irelands with those lads. So it makes a big occasion comfortable for us.

“Gavin has great experience at inter-county level, Shane Cusack - a county minor winning coach,
Nigel Murray, a county minor winning goalkeeping coach, Greg was with Dublin,
Gavin was head coach with Clare and Dublin too.”

Nuggets of information and advice were gleaned. “100 per cent you pick up things under massive
men like Mattie Kenny, a brilliant, brilliant manager,” Kelly replies.

“Donal Maloney and Gerry O'Connor in Clare - fantastic men. You learn so much from those guys.”


Johnny Coen remains a key performer for Loughrea.
Johnny Coen remains a key performer for Loughrea.


Fortunate that so many from the club have been in an inter-county environment, Kelly recalls spending his childhood attending matches throughout the country.
For decades his father, Tommy Snr, gave distinguished service to Galway GAA in a plethora of roles.

“We were reared in a GAA house,” Kelly says. “There was never going to the beach on a Sunday, it was always going to matches.
If you weren't going to matches you were training. Straightaway after mass, 'Daddy where are we going?'

“You were loading up in the car, you could be heading to Monaghan for a National Football League game or you could be heading to Ballinasloe for a National Hurling League game.
That was our winters and summers every Sunday.”

Tommy Snr had a significant influence. “He was at nearly every level - an unbelievable man,” Kelly says. “He was let do that, to follow his dream because of my mother.
So there is a connection there too.”

Kelly acknowledges the rich contribution made to Loughrea too by his brother Brian also. “Up all along it was Brian, who probably introduced us,” Kelly says.

“He was my oldest brother, he passed away in ‘06, it was him that introduced the hurl to us. We only came to Loughrea in ‘66, within two years he was winning an U12 county final.

“He played for Galway in ‘73, he actually scored a goal and a couple of points in the 1981 intermediate hurling final to bring Loughrea up to senior.
That connection definitely runs deep. When you think back it is lovely.” Matches have been won and lost, but the memories will always linger.
So when Loughrea and St Thomas’ gather this weekend in Salthill there will be no shortage of sub plots. Thomas’ craft is respected by Loughrea.

“Our history in finals percentage wise isn't what we would like it to be,” Kelly says. “Thomas' is unbelievable, they haven't been beaten in one.

“They have six won in the last 10 years, that is three times as much as we have ever won. We only have two - 1941 and 2006.
We have to try to get those numbers a bit better - that is our aim.”


Saturday 29.10.2022  

Tommy Larkins v Clarinbridge, Kenny Park, 1.00pm buy tickets here 

St. Thomas v Cappataggle, Kenny Park, 2:45pm, buy tickets here

Sunday 30.10.2022  

Sarsfields v Portumna, Duggan Park, 12:15pm, buy tickets here

Loughrea v Turloughmore, Duggan Park, 2pm, buy tickets here


All four games will be Live Streamed on Galway GAA TV, purchase your streaming passes here




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