Toomevara v Thurles Sarsfields Match Reports

Brilliant Brislane fires Toomevara to final glory

By Brendan Larkin

Toomevara 2-14 Thurles Sarsfields 0-17

SEMPLE STADIUM has witnessed some amazing individual displays of hurling down the years and the performance of Toomevara’s Eoin Brislane in yesterday’s Tipperary SHC final will rank up there with the best of them.

Brislane gave a magnificent performance as Toome regained the county title after a two-year absence following a bruising contest which saw the referee issue seven yellow cards, which might have been red in at least three instances.

The sliothar was hardly thrown in when Toome’s John O’Brien lashed out at his marker which warranted a straight red. The referee dealt with that situation leniently, which set the tone for the rest of the game.

Though the hero of the day for Toome with 1-5 from play, Brislane was also fortunate to stay on the pitch after a reckless pull, but had he been sent off the 6,535 attendance – one of the smallest for a Tipp county hurling final in years – would have missed his superb display.

Thurles’s Ger O’Grady also got off lightly for retaliation on Kenny Dunne. But for all the indiscretions, the game had some great passages of play.

The new champions’ hurling was teak tough, but while only a goal separated the teams at the final whistle, Sarsfields can have no excuses.

They got the perfect start and led five points to one after 15 minutes, but failed to sustain the effort. County senior Pa Bourke wasted a goal chance just two minutes in, yet the home side were well in the game at the break, just two points down after playing into the strong wind.

Unfortunately Sars were almost totally dependent on Johnny Enright for scores. He was unerring from placed balls, converting seven chances and, for good measure, he got six points from play, but he needed support and it simply wasn’t there.

It was most frustrating for the Sars following to see, on occasion, no forward within 30 yards of the opposing goal in the second half as ball after ball was driven in – only for the Toome backs to clear it unchallenged.

Sarsfields were full value for their four-point lead at the end of the opening quarter while playing into the strong wind. Toome needed a sizeable half time lead if they were to survive the second half and got the first of their goals in the 17th minute when Sars ‘keeper Patrick McCormack saved superbly from Eoin Brislane, but the sliothar ran loose and Willie Ryan ushered it over the line.

There was still a lot of unnecessary off-the-ball incidents going on around the field which marred the game, but Thurles were grateful to goalkeeper McCormack who denied John O’Brien a goal coming up to the break before points by Francis Devaney and Brislane left Toome just two in front at the short whistle: it didn’t look to be enough.

Thurles resumed the second half with Lar Corbett out on the forty, but the county man got little change off Benny Dunne and the game developed into the Eoin Brislane show for the rest of the half.

Moved to full forward, he ran rings around his marker, scoring some exquisite points, and the home side were in dire trouble. Only Johnny Enright’s accuracy from frees kept Sars in touch but an Eoin Brislane goal of sheer class in the 27th minute, meant there was only going to be one winner.

The home side tried everything to try and contain Brislane. They brought on Garry Mernagh who was listed on the programme but didn’t start, and he failed to curb the Toome man.

Everything Brislane tried, it came off for him; it was one of those kinds of days. However Sars’ cause wasn’t helped by ridiculous decisions by the referee in calling Lar Corbett back twice after breaking free, awarding him frees instead.

Corbett clearly had goal on his mind as he got away from his marker but was frustrated by the referee’s decision not to let him continue his run which might have yielded the goal they so badly needed.

However the Toome defence was rock solid with David Young, Patrick Tuohy and Benny Dunne giving nothing way, and three late points in a row, all from placed balls, by Johnny Enright, only served to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard.

Scorers for Toomevara: E Brislane 1-5; K Dunne 0-4 (3f); W Ryan 1-0; F Devaney 0-2; T Dunne, J McLoughney (f), P O’Brien (side line) 0-1 each.

Scorers for Thurles: J Enright 0-13 (5f, 0-2 65s); R Ruth 0-2; L Corbett, G O’Grady 0-1 each.

TOOMEVARA: J McGrath; P Tuohy, D Young, P McGrath; P Hackett, B Dunne, J McLoughney; Terry Dunne, T Devaney; P O’Brien, K Dunne, E Brislane; M Bevans, J O’Brien, W Ryan.

Subs: J Delaney for Bevans, 57; D Kennedy for O’Brien, 58; T Delaney for Ryan, 60.

THURLES SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; M Collins, P Maher, K O’Gorman; M Cahill, L Cahill, T., King; S Lillis, S Ryan; W Cully, L Corbett, J Enright; P Bourke, G O’Grady, R Ruth.

Subs: G Mernagh for S Ryan, 39; J Corbett for Ruth, 50; J Lawlor for King, 52; T Ruth for O’Grady, 55.

Referee: N Cosgrove (Marlfield).

‘This is very special for me, the players, their families and the club’

By Brendan Larkin

FOR the second week in-a-row a man steeped in greyhounds played a major role in his club’s county hurling championship success.

Last Sunday Gerry O’Sullivan worked the oracle for Carrigaline in the Cork IHC final, while yesterday it was the turn of Vincent McKenna to do likewise for Toomevara as they overcame Thurles Sarsfields in the Tipperary SHC decider.

McKenna wouldn’t agree the win was as good as winning the Laurels in Shelbourne Park. But it comes very close.

"This is my first season in with the team and I’m completely taken aback by the thrill of winning," he smiled.

"We came very close to going out of the championship after failing to Burgess by two points, but we knuckled down and recovered. People had written us off with some justification. Several members of the team have a lot of miles on the clock, but they can still hurl and they have got what they deserved out of this final after the effort they put in."

McKenna added: "We brought in former Armagh senior footballer Enda McNulty (now a sports psychologist) to speak to the team and he was outstanding in the way he instilled in them the belief that they were good enough to win the county final. Today we saw the benefit of what he said to the lads. It was all about work, work, work and we certainly worked ourselves to a standstill and of course Eoin Brislane decided this was the day he was going to produce it. I’ve never been involved in a county final winning team before so this is very special for me, but more importantly it’s for the players, their families and the club".

Outstanding centre back Benny Dunne had seen it all before, but admits he never gets tired of winning.

"As you get older you appreciate more and more the victories. While all the others I’ve been involved in were great, this one is very special in that we were given little or no hope of winning," he admitted.

Toome raider Brislane

By Vincent Hogan

Monday October 20 2008

Nothing complex or mysterious in Thurles yesterday as Toomevara made physicality count to claim their 11th Tipperary senior hurling crown since ’92.

The monopolies commission might care to question the value of such dominance to Tipp hurling, but there was no denying their authority in a final kept modestly interesting for the 5,635 attendance only by the marksmanship of Sarsfields veteran, Johnny Enright.

He helped himself to all but 0-3 of the Thurles total and, with Lar Corbett restricted to the margins, there was never a truly palpable sense that Toome’s victories over Sars in the finals of ’92, ’00, ’01 and ’03 could be avenged here.

Former county man, Eoin Brislane, shot an impressive 1-5 for the winners from full-forward, prompting some to wonder if Liam Sheedy might perhaps be persuaded to re-acquaint him with the blue and gold jersey in ’09.

Brislane, last on the Tipp panel two years ago under ‘Babs’ Keating, is now 27 and the holder of eight county medals. He is not however, he insists, motivated by any thoughts of a recall. "No I’m happy just to hurl with the club now" he said, the man-of-the-match trophy dangling from his right hand. "I was taken off the last day, everything I hit went wide. But that’s hurling.


"These things (county medals) are getting harder and harder to win.
We’ve been knocked and knocked and knocked all year. No-one gave us a chance. We weren’t going at all well until eight weeks ago. Then we got a bit of momentum. And now we’re heading back into Munster!"

Having failed to win the North Tipp crown, Toome’s obituary was actually being written by many. Yet, their county pedigree is such that having scrambled to this final they were instantly installed as favourites.

It was a tag they looked ill-suited to initially as Thurles, themselves beaten in the Mid final, sprinted into an early 0-5 to 0-1 lead, Corbett getting the pick of their scores with a fetch and strike in the sixth minute.

At the time, he was being marked by county colleague, Benny Dunne, and it looked like theirs would be the defining contest. But Dunne got on top of Corbett. With Lar not sparking, Sarsfields faced an ordeal.

There was a subtle efficiency to Toomevara’s hurling that, in an often sparky contest, simply looked more likely to deliver.

They goaled in the 16th minute, Brislane’s shot being parried brilliantly by Patrick McCormack, only for Willie Ryan to bundle the sliotar over the line after his first attempt was again stopped by McCormack.

Toomevara led at the mid-point by 1-5 to 0-6.

They effectively closed the game six minutes after the resumption, Brislane taking a lovely pass from Francis Devaney, torqueing away impressively from Padraig Maher and beating McCormack with a smart finish.

"The goals were the turning points" said captain, Michael Bevans, after.
"And maybe our experience told in the end. We talked about what we needed to do. There were guys (Terry Dunne and Tony Delaney) going for their 11th county medals.

"But we said that none of that mattered. We all had to treat it as if we were going for our first. You never lose the hunger for hurling in a county final."

Toome were as good as their word, too, Brislane’s form forcing young Maher out to centre-back and Paddy O’Brien pitching in with a picture-book point from a line ‘cut’. They led by six points with three minutes remaining only for Sarsfields to mount a desperate, late surge for survival. Enright pitched in with three points, but Thurles needed at least one goal.

They might have had it too but for David Young’s brilliant interception on a Pa Bourke pass headed for Corbett.

As Bevans put it "People were saying all year that we were a spent force and, to be fair, you couldn’t blame them. Because we were hurling absolutely brutal. But there’s a lot of leaders and big personalities in this team.

"And Vincent McKenna (team-manager) was backing us 100pc. We knew if we got a few breaks, we’d be hard to beat."

Same old lyrics then to the Tipp song. Toome’s old soldiers on the march again.

SCORERS — Toomevara: E Brislane 1-5, K Dunne 0-4 (0-3f), W Ryan 1-0, F Devaney 0-2, Terry Dunne, P O’Brien each, J McLoughney (0-1f) 0-1 each.
Thurles Sarsfields: J Enright 0-13 (0-6f, 0-1 ’65’), R Ruth 0-2, L Corbett, G O’Grady 0-1 each.

TOOMEVARA — J McGrath, P Tuohy, D Young, P McGrath, J McLoughney, B Dunne, P Hackett, Terry Dunne, F Devaney, P O’Brien, K Dunne, E Brislane, M Bevans, J O’Brien, W Ryan. Substitutions: J Delaney for Bevans (59), D Kennedy for J O’Brien (60), T Delaney for Ryan (61).

THURLES SARSFIELDS — P McCormack, K O’Gorman, P Maher, M Collins, M Cahill, L Cahill, T King, S Lillis, W Cully, S Ryan, L Corbett, J Enright, R Ruth, G O’Grady, P Bourke. Substitutions: G Mernagh for Ryan (39), J Corbett for Ruth (50), J Lawlor for King (55), T Ruth for O’Grady (58).

Ref — N Cosgrove (Marlfield).

Toomevara’s Brislane shows the way

TIPPERARY SHC Final Toomevara 2-14 Thurles Sarsfields 0-17:

VETERAN EOIN Brislane turned in a man-of-the-match display to send Toomevara to their 21st Tipperary senior hurling title as they defeated arch-rivals Thurles Sarsfields at Semple Stadium, Thurles, yesterday.

Brislane scored 1-5 from play but was fortunate to be on the field after an early incident for which he received a yellow card. However, he then went on to produce his best-ever showing in the Toomevara jersey.

He crowned it with a second-half goal that rocked Sarsfields and gave his side a six-point cushion that the Thurles side were never able to wipe out.

Wind-aided Toomevara took time to settle as Sarsfields bossed the first quarter to lead by 0-5 to 0-1. In the 16th minute Willie Ryan struck Toome’s first goal. He scooped the rebound off a Brislane shot, bravely stopped by Thurles goalkeeper Patrick McCormack, to the net.

Now Toome were moving and with Benny Dunne a key figure at the heart of their defence, they finished the half leading by 1-5 to 0-6 with closing points from Brislane and Francis Devaney.

Sarsfields were in deep trouble but the accuracy of Johnny Enright from play and frees kept them in touch but inside five minutes of resuming they were in trouble.

Initially four points were shared by the sides but in the fifth minute Brislane took a pass from Deaveny to race through for a smashing goal.
He followed with a point and a further point from Paddy O’Brien had Toome coasting, seven points clear and heading to their 11th title in 16 years.

TOOMEVARA: J McGrath; P Tuohy, D Young, P McGrath; P Hackett, B Dunne, J McLoughney (0-1); T Dunne (0-1), F Devaney (0-2); P O’ Brien (0-1), K Dunne (0-4) E Brislane (1-5); M Bevans, J O Brien, W Ryan (1-0). Subs: J Delaney for Bevans; D Kennedy for J O’Brien; T Delaney for Ryan;

SARSFIELDS: P McCormack; M Collins, P Maher, K O’Gorman; M Cahill, L Cahill, T King; S Lillis, W Culley; S Ryan, J Enright (0-13), L Corbett (0-1); R Ruth (0-2), G O Grady (0-1), P Burke. Subs: G Mernagh for Ryan; J Corbett for Ruth; J Lawlor for King; T Ruth for O Grady.

Referee: N Cosgrove (Clonmel)

(c) 2008 The Irish Times

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