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*Ronan O’Connor and Evan Maxted show their delight at the final whistle. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

ST JOSEPHS’S TULLA’s qualification for a first ever Harty Cup final due to the dogged determination of their young hurlers.

Limerick giants Ard Scoil Rís who feature a strong Clare contingent await in the February 5th decider with Cusack Park and TUS Gaelic Grounds earmarked as the most likely venues.

By responding to the concession of 1-01 inside the first three minutes of Saturday’s semi-final against De La Salle and outscoring their Waterford opponents 0-07 0-01 in the final quarter, the East Clare school deservingly took place in the final.

Manager of the Tulla side, Terence Fahy highlighted his “immense pride” with the effort from his charges. “We’re always proud of the lads, we just wanted them to come down and deliver a performance today and they did, it didn’t go smoothly for us, we got knocked back early but we’ve been knocked back a lot but it doesn’t phase them”.

Knock backs at different stages of the campaign haven’t deterred the fiery St Joseph’s with their victories against hotly tipped Cork sides St Colman’s Fermoy and CBC Cork testament to this. “You can always reference hard-cold evidence, the evidence is there that these lads will stay going, they’ve been backed into corners but they never give up, they have immense qualities and we’re lucky it came to the fore this evening against De La Salle”.

Players set the way as they gathered for the final water break, the Whitegate man flagged, a trait that shone through in the closing stages. “At this level you’re always worried, you have fellas like Paddy Fitzgerald down the far end of the field for De La Salle who are clinical, they are a very organised team. One thing we do know is that these guys will go to the wire, they’ll go, go and they’ll go again. There was a twinge of worry, it wasn’t going straight forward, we had a great opening quarter, fell away in the second quarter, fell away in the third quarter, our discipline wasn’t on the pitch of it, there was a refusal to yield in the final quarter. You could see the players, the players took ownership of the water break at the final quarter, they knew it was going to be our last fifteen minutes of schools hurling if they didn’t win, that’s how much it meant to them”.

Fourteen wides proved costly in their first round loss to De La Salle but the lessons learned in this contest were worthwhile, one outcome saw Feakle’s Adam Hogan deployed from full to centre back to curb the influence of Fitzgerald. “We look after our own business, we never focus on individuals, we knew all about Paddy Fitzgerald the first day, we back our players to go out and take it on, Paddy hurt us so we had to be a little bit more prepared for him today, they might have Paddy Fitzgerald but we have Adam Hogan, we have a lot of capacity and we find players too”.

Fahy told The Clare Echo, “We’ve great lads, a great team with great players, they have great spirit, they are so proud of their school, their area, they harness it and the crowd respond to them because they have an awful lot of capacity. We have a collective and great spirit, our power is the collective and not individuals, that was proven today, the last day and the day before. We’re in a Harty final now, it’s a privilege to be in it, we’ll come down a bit, breath it in and savour today, we’ll make a plan from there”.

TUS Gaelic Grounds has been confirmed as the venue for the final which will take place on Saturday February 5th at 1pm.

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