All-Ireland club junior hurling champions, Thomastown continued where they left off in February in Croke Park, when scoring a convincing win over Conahy Shamrocks in the opening round of the intermediate league.
This was a close contest for 15 minutes, but once Thomastown edged ahead, they dominated.
Their dominance in midfield was the key. Derek Lanigan was strong and imposing at centre-back, particularly in the second half when Conahy tried valiantly to get back into the game.
Midfield was also a strong sector for the winners with Dessie Walsh and Dylan Waugh providing a liberal supply of ball to an attack that was constantly on the move.
Conahy Shamrocks opened well, and were proving more than a match for their opponents.
A Gary Kavanagh point settled the Northerners within three minutes, but a failure to convert two excellent goal-scoring opportunities in the first half was to prove costly. Those missed scoring opportunities seemed to deflate the Conahy men, and their play became ragged resulting in the concession of some easy frees.
The Thomastown ace marksman, Michael Donnelly, was unerring from every placed ball.
Four points separated the sides at the interval, but it did not take long for Thomastown to move further ahead with the first goal of the game.
Andy O’Keeffe in the Conahy Shamrocks goal made a brilliant save from a close range shot, but he could not prevent the inrushing Stuart Waugh crashing the ball to the net.
The Conahy players reacted well to that goal with three excellent points, but Thomastown was back in control with a Dylan Waugh point.
The game was effectively over when Thomas O’Hanrahan scored the second Thomastown goal with ten minutes remaining.
A third Thomastown goal from John Joe Farrell, again despite the best efforts of Conahy goalie Andy O’Keeffe, was indicative of how dominant the winners were in the closing quarter.
The benefit of winning an All-Ireland club title is clearly showing in the attitude and determination of the Thomastown players. They are a physically strong side and over the sixty minutes had too much power for the lighter Conahy players.
They should do well in the Intermediate grade this year. The performance from Conahy Shamrocks was disappointing with the players committing numerous unforced errors throughout the game.
Andy O’Keeffe was their best player with Nicholas Feehan, Kieran Mooney, Gary Kavanagh, Paddy and John Mullan also performing well.
Aside from those already mentioned, Thomastown also had excellent players in Shane Lanigan, Michael Donnelly, John Joe Farrell and Thomas O’Hanrahan.
Scorers: Thomastown - Michael Donnelly (0-4, 0-3 frees); Thomas O’Hanrahan (1-2); John Joe Farrell (1-1); Stuart Waugh (1-
1); Dylan Waugh (0-2); Darren Burke (0-1). Conahy Shamrocks - Shane Brennan (0-3 - Frees); Gary Kavanagh 0-2); John Mullan (0-2); Alan Healy (0-1); Paddy Mullan (0-1); Kieran Mooney (0-1 – Free).
Thomastown - Dylan Walsh; Sean Mahoney; Shane Lanigan; Brian Murphy; Barry Whelan; Derek Lanigan; James Hoyne; Dessie Walsh; Dylan Waugh; David Prendergast; Michael Donnelly; Stuart Waugh; Adrian Burke; John Joe Farrell; Thomas O’Hanrahan. Subs – Richard O’Hara; Darren Burke.
Conahy Shamrocks - Andy O’Keeffe; Nicholas Feehan; Donal Brennan; Philip Cass; Padraig Harding; Kieran Mooney; Thomas Nolan; Gary Kavanagh; Paddy Mullan; John Mullan; John Wallace; Peter Vickery; Alan Healy; Paul Buggy; Shane Brennan. Subs – Paraic Nolan; Seamus Óg Brennan; Declan Buggy.
Referee – Eamonn Mansfield (Cloneen).