Dr. Harty Cup Hurling Final – Thurles CBS 1-12 Ard Scoil Ris 1-12

Dr. Harty Cup Final

Thurles CBS 1-12 Ard Scoil Ris 1-12

By Cathal Ryan

A last gasp free from Ard Scoil Ris corner forward John Fitzgibbon meant that both sides will have to square up again as the Dr Harty Cup Final ended in a dramatic draw Sunday afternoon in MacDonagh Park, Nenagh. The throw in was delayed as a big crowd of 3,000 clambered through the turn styles in anticipation of this Munster Senior Hurling Colleges Final between last year’s champions Thurles CBS and maiden finalists Ard Scoil Ris. The wind gusted towards the town end of the ground and Ard Scoil Ris began with the breeze behind them. In a fiery opening to proceedings the Limerick men pounced as early as the sixth minute with a great solo effort from full forward Kevin Downes who ran 30 yards with the ball glued to the stick before riffling a shot that Aidan Stakelum in the Thurles goal couldn’t keep out. Thurles trailed their opponents from this point until the 10th minute of the second half when much coveted centre back Denis Maher, who was now playing as a forward, whipped on a breaking ball off his right hand side to find the net after it had broken kindly on the on the 14 yard line. This levelled the scores and although the game ebbed and flowed one way and another it was the Tipperary side that led going into the closing stages. Deep into injury time Ard Scoil Ris were handed one final opportunity to level the score with a free given by match official Sean Casey. John Fitzgibbon showed tremendous character in slotting over the free after being substituted late in the first half only to be reintroduced midway through the second period.

On closer assessment the men in the blue and gold of Thurles will be disappointed that they allowed victory be snatched from their grasp at the death. They fired wide on six occasions in the final six minutes but overall this was a gutsy display without one of their key forwards Aidan McCormack who was suspended for the final. The Limerick men will be happy to get another attempt at lifting the crown but they also can look back with some sense of regret having given their opponents all of their first half scores from frees conceded that kept Thurles in touch. The men in black and yellow pounced first when centre forward Declan Hannon converted a first minute free and although Thurles replied promptly through a Mike O Brien free it was the Limerick boys who tagged on two more points very quickly through Niall Kennedy and Declan Hannon. Things were not going well for the Tipp men at this stage and in the fifth minute it took an amazing last stitch tackle from corner back Stephen Maher to prevent a certain goal for John Fitzgibbon. Hannon scored the resulting 65 and a minute later Downes glided in for goal. Thurles CBS began to find their feet and impish corner forward Mike O Brien was proving a real threat winning and converting two frees, before Fitzgibbon converted a dead ball to keep the Limerick sides lead at five points after the first quarter.

The champions kept in touch through frees from O Brien and one from Pat Ralph when O Brien was upended and receiving treatment to leave the margin between the sides at just two points 1-6 to 0-7 come half time. The second period began with a lovely strike off his left hand side by O Brien to put the minimum between the sides. However Ard Scoil Ris were not going to roll over and Declan Hannon slotted two frees to push the gap back out to three points before Denis Maher scored the equalising goal. The tension mounted out on the field and the action although highly competitive became fractured and it was two more frees from Hannon that looked to reassert the black and yellow boys advantage.

The defending champions dug deep and narrowed through an O Brien free in the 47th minute and then two sublime scores from play through Pat Ralph and Denis Maher gave them the lead for the first time in the contest.

From the 53rd minute to the 63rd minute both sides try as they might were unable to find the target until the reintroduced Fitzgibbon stood up to the pressure put Ard Scoil Ris level in the forth added minute. The replay has been fixed for next Saturday afternoon at 3p.m. in the same venue and promises to be another nail biting encounter.

Teams:

Thurles CBS: Aidan Stakelum; Stephen Maher, Cathal Carroll, James Bourke; Cathal Barrett, Denis Maher(1-1), John Meagher; Pa Dunne, Pat Ralph(0-2,1F); Niall O Brien, Philip Looby, John Bergin; Cian Treacy, Darragh Devane, Mike O Brien(0-9,8F). Subs: Brian Campion for C. Treacy (H/T), Tommy Doyle for D. Devane (47).

Ard Scoil Ris: PJ Hall; Mark Carmody, Eoghan McCarthy, Alan Dempsey; Cathal McInerney, Shane Dowling, Martin Moroney; Sean O Brien, Niall Kennedy(0-1); Mark Ryan, Declan Hannon(0-7, 5F, 1’65’), Brendan O Connor; John Fitzgibbon(0-3, 3F), Kevin Downes(1-1), Aidrian Breen. Subs: Jamie Shanahan for J. Fitzgibbon (27), John Fitzgibbon for M. Ryan (42).

Referee: Sean Casey (Waterford)