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Shane Cooney celebrates following St Thomas' Galway SHC Final win in 2018.
Shane Cooney celebrates following St Thomas' Galway SHC Final win in 2018.

Cooney enjoying Thomas' campaign in the west


By Cian O’Connell

These remain exciting times for the proud hurling people in Kilchreest, Castledaly, and Peterswell.

St Thomas’ emergence as a force in the Galway game has been reflected with the collection of four county titles and an AIB All Ireland club in 2013.

What has been most notable, though, is the manner in which Thomas’ have slipped emerging players through into their senior team.

Ultimately, it means Thomas’ are still hugely relevant and Sunday’s Corribside semi-final against Cappataggle at Pearse Stadium certainly carries intrigue.

“It is important every year that you have new players coming through, pushing on the team, pushing on guys in certain positions,” Shane Cooney admits. “That has been crucial and in fairness to the management they have been excellent at giving lads their chance.

“When lads go get their chance, it is up to them, to go to perform, to show what they can do. I think that drives on every individual, that they know to a certain degree their place is not safe. It means they have to pick it up another notch.”

St Thomas' players celebrating after retaining the Galway SHC title in 2019.
St Thomas' players celebrating after retaining the Galway SHC title in 2019.

Manager Kevin Lally has been ably assisted by Claude Geoghegan, Kenneth Larkin, Cathal Daly, while TJ Ryan’s approach is another factor.

Former Limerick boss Ryan, a contributor to Anthony Daly’s unmissable Irish Examiner Hurling podcast, brings passion, purpose, and a sense of fun.

“He is sound, TJ, he can come out with a statement or two that he will get a laugh from for sure,” Cooney replies.

“They are a good bunch, given what we have been through over the last number of years it helps build relationships between people.

“A lot of good times have been had, but we just have to make sure to keep an eye on what is coming down the road, to not lose focus, and to keep driving on.”

Thomas’ have demonstrated real guile to earn the last two Championships in Galway, and that ability to carve out wins has been evident once again in 2020.

John McGrath, Tipperary, and Shane Cooney, Galway, in Allianz Hurling League action in March.
John McGrath, Tipperary, and Shane Cooney, Galway, in Allianz Hurling League action in March.

“We have been getting through the matches, that experience from the last couple of years is coming through, that when the pressure comes on, you know how to deal with it,” Cooney says. “I think that is what has stood to us and we have to make sure to keep bringing that forward.”

Cooney has also relished given Thomas’ his full attention for the summer and believes the split season has worked extremely well.

“One hundred per cent, it has almost been like a forced experiment in a way,” Cooney remarks. “Some learnings have to be taken away from it.

“Really it just goes to show that a Championship can be played off in a relatively quick period of time. Hopefully learnings can be taken from that and brought forward.

“It has been great, it is good to be with the club, that group. There is always good craic when you are training with the lads. Obviously you are pushing hard, but at the same time you are having the craic.

“We are happy out because it has been nice to get that sort of full block with the club at this time of the year. We are really enjoying it.”