Tullamore’s Cormac Martin breaks away from Fr Dalton’s trio Colm O’Roarke, Jack Kearney and Eoin Ryan. Photo: Ger Rogers

Dooley dazzles as Tullamore advance to last four

AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship quarter-final

Tullamore 1-17 Fr Dalton’s 0-10

Shane Dooley was the star of the show as Tullamore recorded an impressive double-scores victory over Fr Dalton’s in this AIB Leinster Club Intermediate Hurling Championship quarter-final at O’Connor Park last Saturday.

The veteran sharpshooter scored 0-11 (0-6 from play) in an outstanding display as Tullamore set up a semi-final showdown with Meath senior kingpins Trim, who caused a huge upset by ousting Kilkenny’s Danesfort at UPMC Nowlan Park. That game will be played at a Meath venue on Saturday week and provides both teams with a golden opportunity to reach a Leinster final.

Following Shinrone’s surprise senior hurling loss to Naas in Newbridge last Saturday, Tullamore are the last Offaly club standing in Leinster and they looked good here against a Fr Dalton’s team who were chasing the game throughout and only managed four points from play.

Favoured by the wind in the first half, Edwin Finnerty’s charges – who almost missed out on the knockout stages of the Offaly Senior ‘B’ Championship – led by 0-11 to 0-5 at half-time. And they kept their Ballymore-based opponents at arm’s length in the second period before Dan Fox’s deflected goal put the result beyond doubt six minutes from the end.

Along with Dooley, Niall Houlihan, team captain Ger Crowe – who was in opposition to his cousin Owen McCabe – Brian Hogan and Cormac Martin were prominent for the winners, while John Gilligan, Padraig Nestor and Westmeath footballer Kieran Martin were best for a disappointing Fr Dalton’s side.

Despite not having played a competitive game in eight weeks, Tullamore hit the ground running with three points in the opening five minutes from Shane Kelly and Dooley (two). Brian Finerty eventually opened Fr Dalton’s account from an eighth-minute free, only for Cormac Martin to reply at the other end.

Points from Kieran Martin and Sam Maxwell narrowed the gap to two at the end of the first quarter, but that was as close as the Westmeath senior ‘B’ champions got as Tullamore moved 0-7 to 0-3 clear with two more points from Dooley (one free) and one from Ciaran Egan. Finnerty converted his second free before Dooley continued his tour de force with another brace from play, while Cormac Martin added his second.

Brian Finerty and Dooley traded further scores before the Blues had a let-off on the stroke of half-time when Ciaran Finerty was unlucky to see his shot come back off the crossbar.

Brian Finerty scored frees either side of Dooley’s sixth point from play in the opening ten minutes of the second half. A Dooley free was the only other score of an uneventful third quarter. Gareth Mann and Kieran Martin traded scores before Tullamore clicked back into gear with a Dooley '65' and free, and a goal from the rampaging Dan Fox which took a wicked deflection off Kenneth Kincaid’s hurl on its way in.

That was followed by another exchange of points between substitute Ronan McLoughlin and the other Fox twin, Mike. Brian Finerty’s sixth free in injury-time was a mere consolation score for Ned O’Connor’s charges who came up against a much better side on the day. For the record, both sides registered nine wides (five in the first half and four in the second).

Man of the match: Shane Dooley. (Tullamore). The Tullamore talisman was the best player on view by some distance. His scoring masterclass lit up a grey afternoon in O’Connor Park.

Key moment: Ciaran Finerty hit the crossbar for Fr Dalton’s just before half-time. Had a goal come at that stage, it would have left just three points between the sides and made for an interesting second half.

Scorers – Tullamore: S Dooley 0-11 (4fs, 1 '65'), D Fox 1-0, C Martin 0-2, S Kelly, C Egan, G Mann and M Fox 0-1 each. Fr Dalton's: B Finerty 0-6 (6fs), K Martin 0-2, S Maxwell and R McLoughlin 0-1 each.

Tullamore: Adam Cleary; Dylan Hensey, Niall Houlihan, Michael Feeney; Ger Treacy, Ger Crowe (captain), Brian Hogan; Gareth Mann, Ciaran Egan; Cormac Martin, Shane Kelly, Dan Fox; Kevin Waters, Shane Dooley, Mike Fox. Subs used: Nigel Bracken for Waters (41 mins), Colm Woodlock for Feeney (57), Niall McCabe for Woodlock (60.

Fr Dalton’s: Eoin Moran; Donal Glynn, Kenneth Kincaid, Eoin Ryan; Colm O'Roarke, John Gilligan, Sean Keena; Padraig Nestor (captain), Ciaran Finerty; Kieran Martin, Conor McNeill, Sam Maxwell; Owen McCabe, Brian Finerty, Jack Kearney. Subs used: Dylan Murtagh for McNeill (20 mins), Ronan McLoughlin for C Finerty (43), Adam Watson for Maxwell (62), Luke Smyth for B Finerty (61).

Referee: Padraig Dunne (Laois).