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Saint Thomas 0-20

Clarin Bridge 0-17

MAYBE now a great club team will get the universal acclaim it deserves. Emulating a feat achieved only twice before in Galway Hurling Championship history, St Thomas joined an exclusive club at Pearse Stadium on Sunday.

Only Castlegar in the late thirties and Turloughmore in the early sixties managed to finish the four in a row, but St Thomas closed that 57-year gap by maintaining his stranglehold on the Tom Callanan Cup in a high-quality decider.

By pulling off a feat that eluded hurling dynasties as powerful as Sarsfields, Athenry and Portumna, the men of Kilchreest, Castledaly and Peterswell extended a momentous period in the club’s history that saw them claim six county titles in a decade.

St Thomas had to work hard for their last triumph by a gallant team from Clarinbridge, but their big-day experience, as well as impressive defensive safety – they have now conceded no goals in their last five final appearances – have been criticism in keeping the challengers at bay.

An estimated crowd of over 5,000 saw an irresistible battle for supremacy. The punches were tough and as Jarlath Niland’s charges backed down at nothing the Champions were, if at all, even more stimulated – their thirst for more success particularly admirable considering how much they have already earned. .

Despite only three points separating the teams at the finish, St Thomas probably should have won by more. Clarinbridge had only kept in touch for much of the second half thanks to the exceptional free-grip from Evan Niland as their offense, which had nibbled away some formidable points in the first 30 minutes, became more and more more restraint.

They only managed two points in the second half of the game – and one of them came from Niland deep in stoppage time – and failed to create a lone scoring chance during the game. nearly 68 minutes of action.

Clarinbridge hung on but struggled to generate momentum on the dash. On the other hand, the one-on-one shot from St Thomas, his precise distribution and his ability to free his shooters created sufficient openings in the opposing half of the field. They set much of the pace on the restart, with team captain Conor Cooney ending an excellent campaign with a man of the match display in the forties.

Cooney, who has at times been unfairly maligned at the inter-county level, finished the final with 11 points under his belt, including five at stake. He was the game’s most influential player, but Eanna Burke, Oisín Flannery, James Regan and Darragh Burke have each supported the posts twice. Regan was particularly important and also won some essential free goals in the second half.

To find out more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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