Mid Tipperary U-21 A hurling semi-final
Thurles Sarsfields 2-18
JK Brackens Og 0-14
Thurles Sarsfields advanced to the divisional decider with a reasonably comfortable ten-point victory over a gallant JK Brackens side at the Outside field on Saturday last. Whether it was the early start or the time of the year the contest never rose above mediocre with the home side stretching their legs in the second half, having led by three at the short whistle. Sarsfields wore the favourites tag with a fine sprinkling of starters from both the Senior and Intermediate County finals, while Brackens were without the services of Luke Ormond, Darragh Doyle and Paddy Moloney. Despite this Brackens were quite competitive in the opening half, Jamie Ormond opening their account in the second minute with a point from play in reply to a fine Darragh Stakelum score for the Sars. The exchanges were tough, but the quality was below par with scores hard to come by. Both number tens were an exception with Sarsfields Liam McCormack (2 pts) and Brackens’ Ned Walsh (3 pts) showing some excellent touches. Tommy Maher (S) and Joe Bourke (B) were in good form from placed balls while James Armstrong was very dominant in his free role at centre-back as Brackens deployed a sweeper at the opposite end. Brackens had a let off in the 16th minute when Darragh Stakelum missed a bread-and-butter goal chance, but Brackens weren’t so lucky in the 30th minute when Robbie Stapleton goaled to add to his earlier point to send Sars in at the break 1-8 to 0-8 to the good.
Sarsfields half-time lead of three was doubled by the 40th minute thanks to two Tommy Maher frees and another from play for Darragh Stakelum. Brackens were struggling to gain a foothold in the middle third having lost Conor Cadell to injury while a number of scoreable frees also went abegging. Jamie Ormond did land one in the 42nd minute to open their second half account. Stakelum’s influence was growing, and he popped another point on 44 minutes before Tommy Maher once again let Brackens off the hook from a good goal opportunity. Ormond (2) traded scores with Maher and Paddy Creedon to leave Sars 1-14 to 0-11 ahead with twelve to go. Maher was having a fine game at midfield, and he grabbed his seventh point of the day in the 50th minute followed by Stakelum’s fourth to put the tie to bed. Robbie Stapleton added another major on 53 minutes to cap a good day for him and secure Sars spot in the final against Drom/Inch. They will be happy enough with their overall performance while knowing they still have plenty of room for improvement. Jack O’Meara, Henry Fogarty and James Armstrong were always to the fore in a dominant defence while Tommy Maher excelled at midfield. Their half forward line of Liam McCormack, Darragh Stakelum and Robbie Stapleton were the pick of the attackers and contributed 2-8 from play. Having been very competitive in the opening half Brackens will be disappointed with the way they faded after the break. Diarmuid Delaney, Stephen Cahill, Ned Walsh, Jamie Ormond and Joe Bourke fared best.
Thurles Sarsfields: Aidan Stakelum, Emmet Fogarty, Jack O’Meara, Ciaran Woodlock, Henry Fogarty, James Armstrong (0-1), Conor Fogarty, Tommy Maher (0-7,5f), Urban Nolan (0-1), Liam McCormack (0-3), Darragh Stakelum (0-4), Robbie Stapleton (2-1), Paddy Creedon (0-1), Jock Fogarty, Danny Rossiter.
Subs: Paul Noonan for Conor Fogarty, Darragh Minogue for Jock Fogarty, Aidan Butler for Paddy Creedon, Conor Stapleton for Darragh Stakelum, Fiachra O’Gorman for Rossitter.
JK Brackens Og: Tom Bourke, Daniel Joyce, Diarmuid Delaney, Shaun Jordan, James Ryan, Stephen Cahill, Ned Delaney, Conor Cadell, Michael Delaney (0-1), Jack Nevin, Michael Cahill, Ned Walsh (0-3), Jamie Ormond (0-6,3f), James Corcoran, Joe Bourke (0-4,3f).
Subs: Edward Ryan for Cadell (inj), Daniel Joyce for Jordan.
Referee: Tom McGrath (Loughmore/Castleiney).