St Thomas’ manager, Kevin Lally, has praised his players for keeping their cool during a hectic finish to their All Ireland hurling club semi-final clash with Ruairi Óg Cushendall.
The Galway champions were seven points ahead at half-time but that lead was extinguished by the 49th minute as Cushendall outscored their opponents by 1-8 to five points in the second half.
Thomas’ campaign was rescued by corner-back, David Sherry, who popped up near the sideline to score the winning point.
Speaking after the game, Lally admitted he was relieved that his decision to move Sherry further up the field had paid off.
“We made it hard for ourselves in the second half and I suppose I have to compliment David Sherry for taking on that last score. We moved him out the field, playing as our sweeper because they were playing five up top.
“I just thought we needed energy and David Sherry has that in spades. He’s probably the fittest guy on the team, he’s a guy who’s just mad for work and he’s great on the ball, we rolled the dice and thankfully it came off.”
“I think our character all year is something to be very proud of, we have different guys stepping up every day. If you go back over our championship games, we have a different guy stepping up. Today, we had David Sherry stepping up, Damien McGlynn off the bench with a super score after coming on to replace Kenneth [Burke].”
Thomas’ wing-back, Fintan Burke, reiterated his manager’s praise for the team’s character but admitted that his side was lucky to get over the line.
“Initial feelings are we just got lucky in the end. They probably had a chance to draw the game with a goal chance and we just got through by the skin of our teeth.”
“We knew when we were six or seven points up that that wasn’t going to be enough so we just came out in the second half, we knew they were going to get a purple patch, everyone knew, so we just dug our heels in and lucky enough, we just got over the line.
“All year we were saying ‘never panic’, our motto has been ‘don’t panic’. They were always going to get a purple patch, they were always going to get a goal, going to get a few points on the trot so the difference is to try and turn around and get one ourselves.”
The 2013 All Ireland champions will now face Ballyhale Shamrocks on St Patricks Day in Croke Park and Lally warned that the Kilkenny champions will be strong favourites as a result of his side’s performance this afternoon.
“We’ve been tested to the limit, and let’s be fair about it, Ballyhale aren’t going to lose any sleep over that, they’re going to go in as raging hot favourites in the final and that’s not trying to big them up or anything.
“We only got five scores in the second half, which is disappointing over 37 minutes. We’ve loads to work on in the next four or five weeks.”