For the second year in a row, Offaly will be represented in the All Ireland Club Senior Hurling Final after Kilcormac/Killoughey upset the odds with a stunning 1-20 to 1-14 win over Munster champions Thurles Sarsfields.
AIB All Ireland Club SHC semi-final
Thurles Sarsfields 1-14
Danny Owens’ charges went into the game as 5-1 outsiders with the bookies but the first time Offaly and Leinster champions continued their incredible season with a fully deserved six point win.
Lead by captain Ciaran Slevin, who scored another 11 points, the doubles Ks lead at the break by 1-8 to 1-7 thanks to a crucial goal just before half-time from Daniel Currams. That cancelled out a three pointer from Pa Burke just moments earlier which had put the much vaunted Tipperary side in front.
After the restart the Offaly champions put their foot on the pedal and pulled away with Slevin leading the way in the scoring stakes.
While they scored an impressive 1-20, as impressive was their defensive display with Lar Corbett being kept scoreless for the entire game. Kilcormac/Killoughey also forced Thurles into a number of mistakes and forced a number of wides by putting pressure on the player trying to shoot.
There was little to chose between the sides in the first half as the teams exchanged points. Thurles had their noses in front for much of the opening 30 minutes in Portlaoise but Kilcormac/Killoughey eventually got level after 25 minutes.
Soon after they were in front with a point from ace marksman Slevin but Thurles hit back well with a point before Pa Burke rattled the back of the net for the Tipperary men to put daylight between the sides.
However Kilcormac/Killoughey showed great composure and they struck back almost immediately.
Brian Leonard launched over a long range free and before the half-time whistle went the Offaly men were back in front when Daniel Currams found the back of the net to put them 1-8 to 1-7 ahead.
Early in the second half, Kilcormac/Killoughey extended their lead to five points with four unanswered point but Thurles Sarsfields are a quality side and they came storming back and with ten minutes there was just a point in it with Kilcormac/Killoughey leading by 1-14 to 1-13.
At that stage the game was in the balance and the Offaly side did have a slice of luck when a 20 metre free from Pa Burke rattled the crossbar.
Kilcormac/Killoughey did not look this gifthorse in the mouth and in the final ten minutes they outscored Thurles by six points to one to book their trip to the All Ireland Club Final in Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day.
They are still awaiting their opponents as defending champions Loughiel Shamrocks of Antrim and St Thomas of Galway played out a thrilling draw after extra-time in Parnell Park in Dublin.
Kilcormac-Killoughey Scorers: Ciaran Slevin 0-11 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65), Daniel Currams 1-1, Brian Leonard (0-1f), Conor Mahon 0-2 each, James Gorman, Tomas Geraghty, Peter Geraghty, Killian Leonard 0-1 each.
Thurles Sarsfields Scorers: Pa Bourke 1-5 (0-3f, 0-1 ’65), Johnny Enright (0-1f, 0-1 ’65), Denis Maher 0-2 each, Richie Ruth, Michael Gleeson, Aidan McCormack, Ronan Maher, Michael O’Brien 0-1 each.
Kilcormac-Killoughey: Conor Slevin; James Grogan, Ger Healion, Alan McConville; Kevin Grogan, Peter Healion, Brian Leonard; Killian Leonard, Damien Kilmartin; Ciaran Slevin, Conor Mahon, Peter Geraghty; James Gorman, Daniel Currams, Tomas Geraghty.
Thurles Sarsfields: Paddy McCormack; Stephen Maher; Kevin O’Gorman, David Maher; David Kennedy, Padraic Maher, Michael Cahill; Michael Gleeson, Johnny Enright; Pa Bourke, Jim Corbett, Lar Corbett; Richie Ruth, Pa Bourke, Aidan McCormack. Subs: Ronan Maher for Enright, Ger O’Grady for Jim Corbett, Michael O’Brien for Ruth.
Referee: Colm Lyons (Cork)