ARDSCOIL RIS will playe Thurles CBS or Nenagh CBS in the Harty Cup semi-final following a 2-15 to 1-7 win over Castletroy College on Wednesday.
For periods they were under pressure but in truth the North Circular Road school always appeared to have another gear to dismiss the challenge of the newcomers from Castletroy College.
Perhaps it was the gusto of the Castletroy College performance that eventually brought the back-to-back winners to life.
Although Ardscoil Ris only fieled four of the team that started last year’s Harty Cup final, they were still the strong 1/12 hot favourites to advance to the semi-finals.
While Limerick city bragging rights were up for grabs this was a Castletroy College side that was appearing in the top tier competition for the first time against Ardscoil, who were appearing in a sixth successive knockout stage.
Castletroy goaled from an Edward Doyle penalty in the third minute of the second half to open a 1-5 to 1-4 lead but they were to score just twice more in the remaining 27 minutes of the game as the greater experience and craft of Ardscoil came to the fore.
It was Castletroy that made all the early running.
They had points from a Killian Enright free and a great finish from a tight angle by Gearoid Hegarty before Ardscoil Ris got off the mark.
Indeed the Castletroy support were singing “what’s the score” as they enjoyed early supremacy.
Ardscoil Ris were anything but clinicial with eight first half wides, compared to just two for the underdogs.
Bit by bit, however, Ardscoil found their feet against a Castletroy side showing huge energy.
But the champions had to rely on the free-taking of Jamie Shanahan to keep them in touch for most of the first half.
It was to be four minutes from the break before Cian Lynch had their only point from play in the half.
But that came after the crucial goal from Jack Kelleher. It came in the 22nd minute when Kelleher finished through a crowded goalmouth after a Shanahan delivery dropped short.
Earlier in the half, Ardscoil had tried for goal on a number of occasions when they appeared to over complicate their play rather then adopt a more direct style.
Castletroy goalkeeper Cian O’Dwyer had to be alert in the 19th minute to intercept when William O’Donoghue looked primed to find the net.
After this came a slight flare-up and if anything it brought Ardscoil to life with 1-2 inside the following couple of minutes to lead 1-4 to 0-5 at half time.
But they eventually got on top in the second half.
Stephen Power, Darragh Kennedy, Killian Enright and Gearoid Hegarty had all carried the game to the favourites in the first half but now it was pretty much one-way traffic.
But around the time of the Doyle penalty, Castletroy had chances to open a meaningful lead but hit four successive wides.
Five more frees from Clare minor Jamie Shanahan soon opened a 1-11 to 1-6 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Now Ardscoil were looking every bit the confident champions with Barry O’Connell dominating from centre back and Shanahan and Jodie Hannon on top in the middle.
In attack the points started to flow with Ronan Lynch one of seven second half scorers.
The goal that finished the tie came in the 50th minute when Kevin O’Brien burst through a crowded area 30 metres from goal and he had only one thing on his mind as he crashed high to the net to ensure the champions marched on.
SCORERS - Ardscoil Ris: Jamie Shanahan 0-8 (all frees), Jack Kelleher and Kevin O’Brien 1-1 each, Cian Lynch, Ronan Lynch, Michael Foley, Cian O’Brien and Michael O’Loughlin 0-1 each. Castletroy College: Killian Enright 0-5 (four frees), Edward Doyle 1-0 (pen), Stephen Power (free), Gearoid Hegarty 0-1 each.
ARDSCOIL RIS - David Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh); Ronan Kirby (Mungret), PJ Hall (Adare), Kevin McNamara (Na Piarsaigh); Evan Fitzgerald (Claughaun), Barry O’Connell (Kildimo), Stephen Fitzgerald (Claughaun); Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge), Jodie Hannon (Adare); William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh), Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Jack Kelleher (Patrickswell); Lukas O’Brien (Adare), Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell). Subs: Cian O’Brien (Mungret) for Lukas O’Brien (49mins), Eoghan Keogh (Na Piarsaigh) for Evan Fitzgerald (52mins), Michael O’Loughlin (Clonlara) for Kevin O’Brien (57mins), Cian McCarthy (Parteen) for Ronan Lynch (59mins).
CASTLETROY COLLEGE - Cian O’Dwyer (Monaleen); Paddy Morrissey (Ahane), Aidan Hanley (Ballina), Cian O’Brien (Monaleen); Jeffrey Enright (Ahane), Stephen Power (Ahane),John Stack (Ballybricken-Bohermore); Darragh Kennedy (Murroe-Boher), Simon Griffin (Monaleen);John Fox (Ahane); William Shanahan (Ahane), Andrew La Touche Cosgrave (Monaleen); Cillian Enright (Ahane), Edward Doyle (Monaleen), Gearoid Hegarty (St Patricks). Subs: Christopher Noonan (Murroe-Boher) for John Stack (h-t), Jamie Porter (Monaleen) for Jeffrey Enright (h-t), John Nicholas (Monaleen) for William Shanahan (51mins), John Sheahan (Monaleen) for Simon Griffin (57mins), Barry McGinty (Ahane) for John Fox (60mins).
REFEREE – Shane Hourigan (St Marys Sean Finns).