Thurles Sarsfields 1-21
De La Salle 1-16
They have long been the market leaders in Tipperary and recently collected their 32nd senior crown in the county, but yesterday Thurles Sarsfields prospered on the Munster stage.
For the first time in their history they swept to glory in a provincial final and claimed a merited five-point victory over De La Salle in a wonderful decider in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
It may have been played in the depths of winter yet this was a terrific clash. The inordinately high scoring totals provided evidence of that as the two teams chalked up 39 scores over the hour. That was in stark contrast to the low-scoring affair that had unfolded when De La Salle won by 0-9 to 0-8 in the final meeting between the sides in 2010.
Thurles Sarsfields made the early running and took the initiative through a magnificent goal by centre-forward Jim Corbett in the 4th minute when he broke through the rearguard to smash home a fierce shot. In fact the winners never trailed on the scoreboard after that score and De La Salle were further hampered by the loss of attacker John Keane who was sent off just before the interval.
The decision by referee Shane Hourigan looked harsh yet it would have a defining impact on the game and was a major setback to De La Salle as moments beforehand they had found the net through a superb shot by Paudie Nevin.
At the interval De La Salle only trailed by 1-11 to 1-9 and their fighting spirit was demonstrated in the second-half as they drew level at 1-12 apiece just after the break.
However Thurles Sarsfields personnel advantage began to tell as the half wore on and substitutes Ger ‘Redser’ O’Grady and Richie Ruth both made scoring impacts when sprung from the bench, just like they had done against Cork champions Sarsfields in their semi-final clash.
Thurles Sarsfields’ Ger ‘Redser’ O’Grady celebrates a late point. Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Pa Bourke was also in outstanding form for the Tipperary champions as he notched 0-7 while Lar Corbett chipped in with 0-3. De La Salle kept battling on and were inspired by the scoring returns of Jake Dillon (0-9) and Eddie Barrett (0-3).
An inspirational point by centre-back Kevin Moran for De La Salle cut the gap to 1-18 to 1-16 with six minutes remaining. But Thurles Sarsfields would not be denied and they finished the stronger with Bourke, Ruth and O’Grady all raising late white flags to seal their triumph.
The result marks De La Salle’s first ever defeat in the Munster Club SHC whereas captain Padraic Maher lifted the cup as Thurles Sarsfields celebrated their maiden provincial senior title. They now go forward to face the Leinster champions next February in the All-Ireland semi-final.