ARDSCOIL Ris’ dream of claiming a hat-trick of Dr Harty Cup titles were shattered in the dramatic closing stages of their semi-final replay clash with Nenagh CBS at Tipperary Town on Wednesday afternoon as they went down on a scoreline of 1-11 to 0-13.
Three-in-a-row seeking Ardscoil looked a good bet to reach another Harty final when edging into a two-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining.
However, Nenagh CBS’ outstanding performer, Jason Forde, helped the Tipperary side regain the lead with a splendid solo goal after he raced through the Ardscoil defence to score four minutes from time.
Nenagh CBS now led by a point, but, to their credit, Ardscoil showed admirable resolve to respond and a pointed free from midfielder Jamie Shanahan as the game ticked into injury time, looked set to send the game to extra time.
However, the drama wasn’t done yet and in a grandstand finish, Tipp minor star Forde ended Ardscoil Ris’ 18-game unbeaten run at Harty Cup level when he landed the winning point in the third minute of stoppage time.
The final whistle brought heartache and bitter disappointment for an Ardscoil Ris side which had showed indomitable spirit to eek out the final two points in the drawn game and force the semi-final to a replay.
Replays generally tend not to follow the same pattern as drawn games, but this semi-final tie was an exception to that old adage. The game was again highly competitive from the outset, with the sides going tit-for-that on the scoreboard and the outcome only decided deep in injury time.
Ardscoil Ris will rue their inability to close the game out. Backed by a stiff breeze, their two-point advantage in a game where the sides had been level on four occasions to that point, should have proved the launch pad for another notable success in Munster Colleges’ premier hurling competition. The North Circular Road side were also left to regret some wayward shooting during both half, with the holders amassing up to a dozen wides over the hour.
Ardscoil Ris’ defeat was their first suffered by the Limerick city side in Dr Harty Cup in three years. The school has built a reputation as a fine hurling nursery, but the challenge facing Ardscoil Ris will be one of maintaining those high standards in the years to come.
This replay was a fine advertisement for the colleges’ game. The hurling, produced by both sides, was of a high quality with the continuity of the game helped by the remarkably dry underfoot conditions. The players’ first touch was assured and the ball-striking crisp. But teams had a real purpose about them and while the stakes were high, neither set of players allowed the occasion get the better of them.
Nenagh CBS made good use of the elements in the opening half, racing into an early 0-3 to 0-0 lead. Their inspirational centre half-back, Jason Forde, who operated in a more advanced position as the game wore on scored all three points, two from play.
Slowly Ardscoil Ris began to settle and by the 20th minute Nenagh’s advantage was reduced to two points, 0-5 to 0-3. The Lynch’s, Ronan with two frees, and Cian, from play, bagged the Limerick side’s points.
With Ardscoil’s survivors from last year’s final, including captain PJ Hall, Barry O’Connell and Jamie Shanahan doing well, ably assisted by the likes of Ronan Lynch, the holders remained well in the contest.
Within five minutes of half-time, Ardscoil were level, thanks to three fine points from Sixmilebridge’s Jamie Shanahan, including one smashing effort from play.
Ardscoil did have to survive a few hairy moments in defence and netminder David Dempsey produced two terrific saves to deny Nenagh’s Jack Loughnane and Podge Shanahan scoring the game’s opening goal.
The sides remained deadlocked, 0-7 each, at half-time.
Little separated the sides during a highly competitive second half. The sides were tied three times during that period, but the game’s outstanding perfomer, Forde proved his side’s hero with that late winning point which helped Nenagh CBS reach their first final in 15 years.
SCORERS - Nenagh CBS – Jason Forde 1-10 (0-4 frees), Stephen O’Brien 0-1; Ardscoil Ris – Ronan Lynch 0-5 (all frees), Jamie Shanahan 0-5 (four frees), Cian Lynch, William O’Donoghue and Jack Kelleher 0-1 each.
NENAGH CBS – Will Power; Stephen Cleary, Kevin Gubbins, Donnacha Quinn; Eddie Hynes, Jason Forde, Jack Peters; Jack Loughnane, Jack Flaherty; Tadhg Gallagher, Conor Delaney, Stephen O’Brien; Podge Shanahan, Paudie Fogarty, James Mackey. Subs: Sean Geaney for Shanahan (half-time), Killian Gleeson for Mackey (51 mins).
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), Jody Hannon (Adare); Michael O’Loughlin (Clonlara), Ronan Lynch (Na Piarsaigh), Jack Kelleher (Patrickswell); Lukas O’Brien (Adare), Kevin O’Brien (Patrickswell), Cian Lynch (Patrickswell). Subs: William O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh) for Lukas O’Brien (half-time), Michael Foley (Na Piarsaigh) for Kevin O’Brien (35 mins), Cian O’Brien (Mungret) for O’Loughlin (41 mins).
REFEREE – Pat Casey (Waterford)