Ardscoil go for Harty Cup hat-trick

Jerom O’Connell previews Ardscoil Ris’s Harty Cup semi-final against Nenagh CBS

Jerom O’Connell previews Ardscoil Ris’s Harty Cup semi-final against Nenagh CBS

SOMEWHAT surprisingly, Ardscoil Ris remain on course for a hat-trick of Dr Harty Cup titles.

The north circular road secondary school entered the defence of their Munster senior A colleges hurling championship with just four players remaining from that side that eased past Charleville CBS in last year’s final.

Now the Limerick side have another final appearance in their sights as they bid to become the first school to win three in a row since the Andrew O’Shaughnessy inspired St Colmans College side of 2001-03.

“At the start of the year most people might have thought that we would struggle to get out of our group given we were without 11 from last year and a lot of the marque names from the last few years. But I must say that the lads have worked so hard,” explained Ardscoil Ris selector Liam Cronin, who is joined in the management team by Derek Larkin, Jimmy Browne and Natal O’Grady.

“Now that we are in the semi-final we want to get to a third final in a row. The down side of been successful is that everyone else raises their game to try and beat us,” said Cronin.

Sunday will be Ardscoil’s fifth successive semi-final - they lost the first two and of course have battled back to win successive Harty crowns and reach back-to-back All-Irelands.

“It is no secret that seven or eight years ago we sat down and wanted to become the new hurling nursery for Limerick like CBS Sexton St were in the ‘60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Thankfully the players have bought into it and we are also lucky because of the work that is been done in clubs like Na Piarsaigh, Patrickswell and Adare,” said Cronin.

If Ardscoil advance they will play either De La Salle or Waterford Colleges in the final on February 26. A win on Sunday would also guarantee an All-Ireland quarter-final place.

Facing Cronin and Co on Sunday will be a Nenagh side led by Donach O’Donnell - the trainer to the Limerick senior hurlers, is a teacher in the north Tipperary school.

After advancing from the group stages unbeaten, Ardscoil were still behind Thurles and St Flannans in the betting for the championship. But both fell at the quarter-final stage with Nenagh beating favourites Thurles after a replay.

“Myself and Derek got along to the replay and while most people would have felt Nenagh lost their chance the first time that was not the case and even when they were behind in the replay they dug deep and worked extremely hard,” he outlined.

ARDSCOIL RIS PANEL - Shane Costello, PJ Hall, Jody Hannon, Lukas O’Brien (all Adare), Eric Neville (Askeaton-Ballysteen), Evan Fitzgerald, Stephen Fitzgerald (both Claughaun), Micheal O’Loughlin, David Poland, Arron Gaule (all Cratloe), Barry O’Connell (Kildimo), Colin Ryan, Bobby Sherlock (both Meelick), Ronan Kirby, Cian O’Brien (both Mungret St Pauls), Mark Buckley, Evan Condon, David Dempsey, Evan Egan, Michael Foley, Eoghan Keogh, Ronan Lynch, Kevin McNamara, William O’Donoghue, Josh O’Halloran (all Na Piarsaigh), Ronan Broderick, Colin Crehan (both O’Callaghans Mills), Cian McCarthy (Parteen), Andrew Carroll, Jack Kelleher, Cian Lynch, Kevin O’Brien (all Patrickswell), Jamie Shanahan (Sixmilebridge).