Sherry heroics hard to swallow for Cushendall
Cushendall 2-11 St Thomas’ 0-18
Corner back David Sherry's 64th-minute point sent a valiant Ruairí Óg, Cushendall crashing out of the All-Ireland Club SHC at the hands of Galway champions St Thomas', on Saturday afternoon in Parnell Park.
The Glensmen still had a late chance to cap a Herculean second-half effort by sending the game into extra time, but a marauding Donal McNaughton opted to go low with an effort that was well stopped on the line.
"I thought we were going to win it when it went level with four or five minutes to go," said a disappointed Cushendall manager Eamon Gillan.
"I felt we were on top that whole second half.
"We should have been going in with less of a deficit, but you couldn't ask for more, we kept going and kept going and chipped away and came agonisingly close.
"They just broke away, got a couple of scores at crucial times and it cost us in the end."
A fourth-minute Neil McManus penalty put the Antrim men ahead, but St Thomas' battled back to level through Kenneth and Éanna Burke.
McManus struck again to give his side a slender lead, but as the half wore on the 2013 All-Ireland champions gradually took control of the game, hitting 0-06 without reply with no less than four Burkes - Darragh, Éanna, Bernard and Fintan - among the scorers alongside full-forward Conor Cooney.
Seán McAfee broke their scoring spree with a neat point, but further scores from Darragh, Éanna and Fintan Burke continued the Tribesmen's assault before Neil McManus ended the half with a converted free.
Trailing by seven points at the break, a further McManus brace and Eoghan Campbell point saw them start the second half well but points for Shane Cooney and substitute Damien McGlynn kept the St Thomas lead at six points.
Young midfielder Fergus McCambridge then cut a swathe through the St Thomas' defence to fire home the second Cushendall goal, before a further McCambridge effort and Paddy McGill brace drew the Ulster champions level.
Darragh Burke and James Regan then edged the Connacht side back in front, but Ruairí Óg again hit back, a McManus free and 65 once again restoring parity.
With over four minutes of injury time played, St Thomas' corner back David Sherry latched onto a hacked clearance and delivered the ball with minimum fuss through the Ruairí Óg uprights to see them retake the lead.
Donal McNaughton's 30-yard effort was then scrambled off the line and Cushendall just couldn't fashion another scoring opportunity in the dying embers as St Thomas' set up a St Patrick's Day date with Ballyhale Shamrocks in Croke Park.
Ruairí Óg: Eoin Gillan, David Kearney, Martin Burke, Sean Delargy, Eoghan Campbell (0-01), Arron Graffin, Paddy Burke, Fergus McCambridge (1-01), Neil McManus (1-06, 0-04f, 0-02 65s), Donal McNaughton, Eunan McKillop, Ryan McCambridge, Paddy McGill (0-02), Seán McAfee (0-01), Alex Delargy.
Subs: Conor Carson for Ryan McCambridge 30', Stephen Walsh for Sean Delargy 54'
St Thomas' HC: Gerald Murray, Cian Mahoney, Cathal Burke, David Sherry (0-01), Donal Cooney, Shane Cooney(0-01f), Fintan Burke, James Regan (0-02), David Burke, Darragh Burke (0-06, 0-04f), Éanna Burke (0-03), Bernard, Brendan Farrell, Conor Cooney (0-01), Kenneth Burke (0-01).
Subs: Damien McGlynn (0-01) for Kenneth Burke 44', Seán Skehill for Brendan Farrell 58'
Referee: Paud O'Dwyer (Carlow).