*Killian O’Connor in possession for St Flannans. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
A Clare team will line out in the semi-finals of the Dr Harty Cup for the first time since 2011 as St Flannans sealed their place in the last four on Wednesday.
St Flannans College 3-17
St Josephs Tulla 0-16
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
In what was a novel first meeting of St Flannans and St Josephs Tulla in the Harty Cup, it was the more balanced Ennis side that amassed a ten point victory and thus secured their place in the last four of the provincial competition.
Though ten points separated the sides, it is more accurate to say three scores was the difference as the gulf in class was not as substantial as the final score suggests.
Playing the more smarter hurling, St Flannans’ link-up play was easy on the eye and allowed them put together nice passages of play which demonstrated their high skill levels. Diarmuid Cahill and Conner Hegarty reigned supreme in this regard with the lively duo amassing a tally of 3-07 between them.
Cahill’s eleventh minute point in which he side-stepped Paddy Donnellan gave the Kevin O’Grady managed side a three score lead, their biggest of the game thus far. It proved to be the wake-up call for the East Clare outfit who rattled off four points in succession and went in front for the first time.
For the first but not the last time, a Flannans goal quelled their momentum with Hegarty raising the green flag on nineteen minutes. Tulla responded with two points but once again they were left reeling when Peter Power scooped the sliotar into the hands of Cahill who batted to the back of the net for another goal giving the twenty one time champions a five point cushion at the break.
Undaunted by having to make a comeback, St Josephs started well with two super Andrew Conheady points coming after a missed goal opportunity by Cormac Murphy. Terence Fahy’s side reduced the deficit to two with forty minutes on the clock however their efforts came undone when a fantastic Diarmuid Cahill run was matched by an even better finish to the top right corner of Aaron Shanahan’s net to make it game, set and match on forty minutes.
Third time was a charm for Flannans in shaking off the spirited Tulla who were unable to dust themselves off following Cahill’s second goal. They were always going to bring the fight to Flannans but came undone in dealing with their opponents biggest threats. Daragh Keogh shipped in an excellent display with Andrew Conheady, Cian Mulqueen and Oisin Clune also doing well.
No matter where on the field, St Flannans had players capable of putting the ball between the posts. However it was their ability to stick the sliotar in the back of the net that guided them to this win. Cahill and Hegarty were outstanding with strong showings also from Killian O’Connor, Jarlath Collins and Niall Walsh.
There was hype and excitement in the lead up to this contest and rightfully so. This was the first meeting of Clare schools in a knockout Harty Cup tie but such a scenario is an annual occurrence for Cork and Tipperary equivalents. 2020 was the first, for the future of hurling in the county it needs to become a regular calendar event.
Scorers St Flannans: D Cahill (2-04), C Hegarty (1-03), A Brohan (0-04 4f), K O’Connor (0-03), P Power (0-01), C Galvin (0-01 1f), D Nagle (0-01)
Scorers St Josephs: D Keogh (0-10 8f), C Murphy (0-02), A Conheady (0-02), S Withycombe, (0-01), O Clune (0-01).
St Flannans College: Cian Broderick; Niall Walsh, Darragh Healy, Matthew Reidy; Stephen Casey, Cian Galvin, Tony Butler; Conner Hegarty, Oisin O’Donnell; Ashley Brohan, Diarmuid Cahill, Killian O’Connor; Jarlath Collins, Colm Cassidy, Peter Power.
Subs: James Doherty for O’Donnell (48), Dylan Cunningham for Cassidy (57), Dara Nagle for Power (59), Conor Halpin for Collins (60).
St Josephs Tulla: Aaron Shanahan; Liam McInerney, Adam Hogan, Enda Madden; Ronan O’Connor, Paddy Donnellan, Cian Mulqueen; Daragh Keogh, Cormac Murphy; Daniel Withycombe, Oisin Clune, Andrew Conheady; Seán Withycombe, Murrough McMahon, Jimmy O’Gorman.
Subs: Aaron Curtis for O’Gorman (48), Evan Maxted for D Withycombe (56), Liam Hogan for McInerney (58), Dara Ryan for A Hogan (62).
Referee: John O’Halloran (Limerick)