Turloughmore hurlers take another giant step
By JIM CARNEY
Turloughmore ………….. 3-14
Mullagh ………………….. 0-18
IT TAKES patience, a sustained effort, good organisation on and off the field and a consistently high level of performance to qualify for the knockout stages of the new-look County Senior Hurling Championship. Nothing less would get a team the coveted ticket from the Group stage to the quarter-finals.
One club rising to the challenge magnificently is Turloughmore, revitalised after a few years of struggle and the loss of their old confidence and ambition, and now going from strength to strength in a group alongside three clubs of similar positive attitude and desire this year: Beagh, Mullagh and Sarsfields.
Currently, Turloughmore sit on top of the Group C table on three points from two games, with the three others on one point: Beagh and Sarsfields both from one outing, and Mullagh from two games played.
Under Mícheál Donoghue’s team management, helped by Noel Burke and Pat Morris, born-again Turlough’ are having a great campaign. First time out they defeated Liam Mellows 0-17 to 1-8 and then, in the first of their Group fixtures, drew 1-12 to 1-12 with Sarsfields, early conquerors of mighty Portumna, the former County Cup specialists. Beagh started their Group campaign vs Mullagh by wiping out a 9-point deficit and forcing a sensational draw: Beagh 1-16 Mullagh 3-10. And at Kenny Park, Athenry last Sunday there was another very disappointing outcome for Mullagh, beaten five points by a Turloughmore team who played some brilliant hurling in a perfect mix of teamwork and individual excellence.
In a well contested, hugely entertaining game, on a lovely, sunny afternoon, it was a convincing, very impressive Turloughmore display. Mullagh, so near and yet so far from a big breakthrough in recent years, would’ve been marginal or maybe stronger favourites to win but while their defeat might have come as a surprise it wasn’t a shock and Turloughmore, to their great credit, really played like a team who believed in themselves from the 9th minute on. Earlier, the fast, stylish Niall Cahalan had hit a couple of superb points from play to get Mullagh off to a flying start.
At that early stage, I was thinking about what a Mullagh man had said to me before the match — that the last time they were crowned county senior champions was in the year made famous in Ireland by the International Eucharistic Congress, 1932, and on its return to Dublin last weekend they were wondering around the parish of Mullagh if hurling history could be repeated. A tenuous link, admittedly, in the process of hoping and dreaming, and soon it was clear that Turlough’ people had said their prayers, too!
The significance of the 9th minute lay in the bullet of a goal netted by the young Turloughmore centre half-back Daithí Burke past three men on the Mullagh goal-line. Later, at the other end, a Mullagh penalty was saved and I think it was Daithí who stopped it, while goalkeeper Paul Dullaghan was also well positioned. The Mullagh forwards had put in a lot of good work in the first half but it was not enough to keep their opponents at bay, as Ronan Badger pounced for a goal close-in, from a long delivery by Daithí Burke, and it made the game level pegging at the interval: Turloughmore 2-5 Mullagh 0-11.
Francis Forde’s brilliant goal in the 16th minute of the second half was a decisive score. At one stage of this half, Turlough’ led by a whopping ten points but Mullagh showed heart and determination in fighting back and keeping the leaders scoreless for a 15-minute period. But there was no chance of Turlough’ being caught at any stage of the second half; they were enjoying their hurling, and it was very enjoyable to watch it.
County senior team captain Fergal Moore, a classy player, was outstanding for Turloughmore at full-back in that second half; Matthew Keating, Man of the Match against Liam Mellows, again excelled and all the forwards did their stuff; they were hungry for the ball and their point-shooting from all angles and distances was exceptionally good. Ronan Badger top-scored with a goal and five points (1-1 from play).
For Mullagh, quarter-finalists last year, a win is vital next time out against Sarsfields, while for Turloughmore there are all kinds of exciting possibilities but they’ll be taking nothing for granted and will remain focused from one big day to the next.
Turloughmore: P. Dullaghan; C. Morris, F. Moore, M. Murphy; B. Holland, D. Burke (1-0, free), M. Casserly; M. Keating (0-1), D. Forde; C. Burke (0-1), D. O’Shaughnessy, B. Murphy (0-3); F. Forde (1-0); R. Badger (1-5, 0-4 frees), G. Burke (0-3). Sub., K. Hussey, for D. Forde.
Mullagh: E. Ward; C. Hardiman, A. Gaynor, C. Kennedy; D. Hardiman, Conor Dervan (0-1), J. Rafferty; K. Briscoe (0-1), F. Hardiman; C. Finnerty, N. Cahalan (0-7, four frees), J. Gaynor; D. Reilly (0-1), F. Coone (0-4), D. Glennon (0-4).
Referee: Alan Kelly.
Herald Sport Man of the Match: Daithí Burke (Turloughmore).
Other S.H.C. results: Castlegar 1-18 Kinvara 4-8; Gort (holders) 9-15 Moycullen 0-5; Loughrea 2-21 Athenry
1-10 (match report inside).