By Ivan Smyth
Turloughmore reached their first county final since 1990 as their greater scoring threat propelled them to a showdown against either St. Thomas’ or Cappataggle. Inspired by Daithí Burke’s energetic display and Conor Walsh’s accuracy from placed balls, Turloughmore dug out a hugely satisfying win in Pearse Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Hession and Francis Forde’s side earned their victory due to their greater scoring threat with eight different players finding the target with five Loughrea players managing to trouble the scoreboard in Salthill. Turloughmore’s Gary Burke found the net before the break to help his side lead by a point at half time. The men in black and white then struck the opening four points in the second half and try as they might Loughrea were unable to gain parity again.
Loughrea’s Jamie Ryan carved out the first goal opportunity for Loughrea in this game as he flashed an effort over the bar when through on goal. However, a Conor Walsh free helped Turloughmore settle before the centre forward found the target to move his side in front. Neil Keary (free) and Emmet Mahony hit back for Loughrea as the sides were level three times in the opening 10 minutes.
Barry Callanan moved his side in front before Sean Loftus found the corner forward in space but Callanan was thwarted by Loughrea netminder Gearoid Loughnane. A Walsh free helped Turloughmore lead by two at the first water break but Loughrea soon levelled the game through a Keary free and a Joe Mooney score. Turloughmore began to play more direct and they were rewarded for this when a long Mikey Morris delivery broke to Matthew Keating. He drove through the heart of the Loughrea defence before offloading to Barry Callanan as the corner forward struck his side’s first goal.
Loughrea almost fund the perfect response but Jamie Ryan’s goal effort was deflected over the crossbar by Turloughmore goalkeeper Mark Fahy. Keary narrowed Loughrea’s arrears with a well taken score but Turloughmore looked the more threatening in attack and they earned a penalty when Sean Linnane was hauled down after excellent work by Jamie Holland, Daithí Burke and Sean Loftus. Walsh stepped up but his effort was saved by Gearoid Loughnane in the Loughrea goal.
This spurred Loughrea in to action as they hit back with four unanswered scores as Keary (two frees) and Jamie Ryan (two) finding the target. Ryan struck a sublime sideline cut during this burst of scores as Loughrea led by three points. However, Turloughmore hit back with a Barry Callanan point before Daithí Burke produced an excellent pass to find Gary Burke in space and the sharpshooter finished beyond Gearoid Loughnane to give Turloughmore a one-point half time lead.
Last year’s beaten semi-finalists managed to extend their half time advantage as they struck the opening four points of the second with Walsh (two), Jamie Holland and Sean Linnane all on target. Keary hit back with a free for Loughrea before Emmet Mahoney struck an excellent score to reduce his side’s arrears to three points.
With Loughrea playing with a two man inside full forward line and dropping players deep, it enabled Turloughmore to deploy a sweeper as Loughrea found it harder to engineer scoring opportunities from open play. The sides shared the next four scores with Matthew Keating and Daithí Burke on target for Turloughmore while Keary notched two frees for Loughrea.
A Walsh free pushed Turloughmore four points ahead once more and Barry Callanan moved Francis Forde and Joe Hession’s side further in front. Loughrea showed admirable battling qualities as Joe Mooney hit back with a score after good work by Jamie Ryan and Neil Keary in the build-up. Barry Callanan almost struck Turloughmore’s third goal but his effort drifted wide but he was fouled in the build-up with Walsh converting from the resulting free.
Jamie Holland struck a free to move Turloughmore six points ahead but Loughrea, who won the county title in 2006, responded with a Paul Huban free in the 62nd minute. Anthony Burns saw a goal effort saved before Johnny Coen was hauled down with his 20-metre free blcoked. Joe Mooney as on hand to scramble the rebound to the net to cut Loughrea’s deficit to two points. Their hopes of victory were dashed when Sean Loftus was fouled from the resulting puckout and Walsh pointed in what was the final action of the game.
Turloughmore: M. Fahy, M. Morris, R. Burke, M. Murphy, D. Loftus (0-1), J. Holland (0-2, 0-1 free), K. Hussey, D. Burke (0-1), F. Moore, M. Keating (0-1), C. Walsh (0-8, 0-6 frees, 0-1 ’65), S. Loftus, S. Linnane (0-1), G. Burke (1-0), B. Callanan (1-3). Subs: B. McDonagh for M. Keating (50 mins), B. Connolly for M. Murphy (54 mins), R. Doyle for B. Callanan (60 mins), D. Mullen for S. Linnane (60+2 mins), R. Badger for G. Burke (60+5 mins).
Loughrea: G. Loughnane, O. Coyle, J. Coen, C. Killeen, C. Jennings, P. Hoban (0-1f), D. Shaughnessy, E. Mahoney, B. Keary, I. Hanrahan, S. Sweeney, J. Mooney (1-2), E. Mahoney (0-2), M. McManus, J. Ryan (0-4, 0-1 sideline cut), N. Keary (0-8, 0-7 frees). Subs: A. Burns for S. Sweeney (40 mins), C. Gibbons for B. Keary (51 mins), T. Hoban for E. Mahoney (54 mins), S. O’Brien for M.McManus (60+4 mins).
Referee: John Keane.