1993: 'Barrs pipped in gripping Munster Club SHC semi-final

Tipperary champions Toomevara had a one-point win over their Cork counterparts in demanding conditions
1993: 'Barrs pipped in gripping Munster Club SHC semi-final

St Finbarr's goalkeeper Shane Hurley is hoping for better weather in Ennis on Sunday than was the case for the county final against Blackrock. Pic: Larry Cummins

IT’S a reflection of St Finbarr’s long spell in the hurling wilderness that most of the current players weren’t even born when the club last competed in the Munster championship.

That unwelcome period in the Doldrums ends at Cusack Park, Ennis, on Sunday with a place in the final on offer against Clare’s Ballyea.

And while the other semi-final between the All-Ireland champions Ballygunner and Limerick’s Na Piarsaigh is considered the heavy-weight contest and what a game that should be, the ’Barr’s and Ballyea encounter will be just as intriguing.

You must go back 29 years for the Cork champions’ last appearance in the quest for provincial honours, also a semi-final against Tipperary standard-bearers Toomevara, who enjoyed home advantage on a typical grey November afternoon, the ground pelted with driving wind and rain.

It was a bad weekend allround for the Togher club because the afternoon before their bid for a record fourth successive city U21 hurling title came unstuck after Bishopstown swept to a deserved 3-10 to 1-10 victory with a certain Donal O’Mahony firing 2-3 from play.

A narrow one-point loss, 1-10 to 0-12, followed less than 24 hours later as Toomevara just got over the line against the Cork champions, who were missing two influential players in centre-back Seamus O’Leary and chief marksman Brian Cunningham in attack.

Despite the obvious handicap and having to play into the elements in the first-half, the ’Barr’s were right in the game at half-time, trailing by just three points with wind advantage to come on the resumption.

The only goal came five minutes from the break and featured the outstanding play of Tommy Dunne, who did all the donkey-work from 35 metres out, breaking a number of challenges before passing to the unmarked Tommy Carroll, who gave Ger Cunningham no chance.

It looked ominous for the ’Barr’s at this stage as Toomevara swept five points clear but they responded well, points from a Billy O’Shea free and a super effort from near the touchline by Johnny O’Connor kept the visitors in the hunt.

Even though the half-time whistle may have broken the ’Barr’s momentum they carried on in the same vein on the change of ends and started the second-half in whirlwind fashion.

They stunned the home following with four points in quick succession to not only regain parity but edge in front by the minimum margin after Michael Quaid, Ivan O’Mahony, Colm Duffy and O’Shea hit the target.

Back came Toomevara to get their noses in front once more only for their opponents to tie matters up once again with a super Frank Ramsey score as the excitement levels increased despite the gruelling conditions.

Toomevara management then produced a master-stroke by switching the immaculate Dunne from corner-forward to midfield, where he exerted a huge influence on proceedings.

Not only was Dunne instrumental in breaking the ’Barr’s grip around the middle but he got on the scoreboard, too, helping extend his side’s advantage to two points coming down the stretch.

The lighter ’Barr’s forwards were struggling in the demanding conditions and a tight-marking Toomevara defence but there was still time for late drama.

With less than a minute on the clock, O’Shea lobbed a free from 40 metres into the danger zone, where ’Barr’s captain Mick Barry connected sweetly only for the ball to carry the crossbar.

Now, the current generation hope the ball will bounce kindly for them as they seek to continue their memorable season.

Scorers for St Finbarr’s: I O’Mahony, M Quaid and J O’Connor 0-2 each, B O’Shea 0-2, 1f, F Ramsey, E Griffin, M Barry and C Duffy 0-1 each.

Scorers for Toomevara: T Carroll 1-1, M Nolan 0-6, 3f, 1’65, Tommy Dunne 0-2, K Kennedy 0-1.

ST FINBARR’S: G Cunningham; P O’Leary, C Ryan, J Kennedy; J Griffin, T Doolan, N Leonard; F Ramsey, B O’Shea; I O’Mahony, M Quaid, J O’Connor; E Griffin, M Barry, C Duffy. Subs: F Lehane for E Griffin and Hosford for Duffy.

TOOMEVARA: J Grace; P Meagher, R Brisbane, D O’Meara; G Frend, M O’Meara, W Shanahan; T Delaney, P King; M Nolan, M Murphy, L Flaherty; T Carroll, K Kennedy, Tommy Dunne. Subs: L Nolan for Delaney and Terry Dunne for Murphy.

Referee: T Murray (Limerick).

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