CONOR Cooney of St Thomas’ in action against Cian Loy of O’Loughlin Gaels during the AIB GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final at Croke Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Thomas’ Tornado

Galway champions win second All-Ireland club title

THEY say that when it comes to training teams, development and real improvement lies just on the edge of chaos. To the untrained eye, the very best training sessions look like a sort of controlled chaos, mimicking what’s thrown at players during games, writes Paul Keane.

We’d love to get a glimpse at what exactly St Thomas’ have been doing in this regard in training because it’s quite apparent that their players are entirely comfortable in chaos. More than that, they luxuriate in it.

That clear-headedness has always been a feature of this group who have won so many narrow county finals, but they’ve taken the idea of thriving under pressure to new levels throughout this landmark All-Ireland campaign.

From holding their nerve on penalties against Ballygunner to refusing to blink first when losing James Regan to a red card so early in the second-half of Sunday’s All-Ireland final, they seem to love nothing more than digging deep and playing on instinct.

Sure, there was method to Conor Cooney’s move into the full-forward position after Regan’s departure - the previously deep-lying number 11 explained afterwards that it was an attempt to occupy the full-back line and to create a little more space in a zone where the O’Loughlin Gaels half-back line had previously been lording it - but mostly it was old fashioned off-the-cuff hurling that won the day for St Thomas’ in a blood and thunder second-half that they edged 0-10 to 0-7.

Eanna Burke’s eventual matchwinner summed up just how this team has taught itself to play when the need is greatest – on pure instinct.

How else can you explain how the experienced forward, with the scores tied and just 30 seconds of stoppage time remaining, had the presence of mind to sling over the winning score from close to the sideline, on the 21-metre line, beneath the Hogan Stand?

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