Unbeaten in the championship for the last three years, Colman’s looked in real danger of losing that marvellous record when they trailed by four points as the game went into injury time.
However, they preserved that record, scoring 1-1, the goal coming from a 30 metre free which Eamon Colman drilled low through a crowded goalmouth to earn a draw Colman’s just about deserved.
Fielding only one of last year’s winning team in their captain Eamon Condon, the Fermoy College were pushed all the way by a gritty Cashel side that will forever wonder how they left that five point lead slip which would have given them a sensational victory.
Seven times, two evenly matched sides were level in a game that produced an abundance of scores and an extremely high standard of hurling.
The champions opened brightly with a goal after six minutes from Ronan Coakley and when Eamon Condon added another two minutes later, it all appeared to be going according to the script.
However, Cashel recovered well and with Tipperary county minor James McCarthy, inspirational in the heart of their defence, they hit back strongly with a splendid goal from Darragh Hickey and a succession of points saw Colman’s lead at the break 2-4 to 1-6.
There was no let up in the keenness of the exchanges on the changeover as the lead regularly changed hands until Paul O’Dwyer’s goal in the 45th minute put Cashel in front for the first time.
With Darragh Hickey proving a handful for the Colman’s defence, the Tipp school consolidated their position with a cracking goal by Brian Maher which put his side four points clear and the defending champions unbeaten run looked to be at an end.
It was a record well worth preserving however, and in those hectic closing minutes, James Kearney cut through for a point before Eamon Condon became the hero for St. Colman’s with the equalising goal just on the call of full time.
It’s a result that may come back to haunt Cashel as they should never have left a fourth point lead slip so late in the game, however, they produced a marvellous display particularly by full back, Tony Hewitt, centre back James McCarthy and centre forward Darragh Hickey which suggests they could well make the knockout stages.
Colman’s should also make it to the last eight but they are a bit on the young side with a lot to learn about Harty hurling, however, they say champions die hard and on the evidence of the way they managed to pull this one out of the fire when all seemed lost, it’s clear they have no intention of giving up their title easily.
Scorers: St. Colmans; E. Condon 2-2 (1-0 free), R. Coakley 1-0, A. Mannix, R. O’Connell, P. Lynch (0-1 free) 0-3 each, J. Kearney 0-1.
Cashel CS; D. Hickey 1-5 (0-1 65), P. O’Dwyer 1-2, B. Maher 1-1, W. Fitzell 1-0, E. Shine 0-1.
ST. COLMANS: C. O’Keeffe, M. Hegarty, S. Russell, K. Dineen, B. Hogan, M. O’Connor, K. Kearney, E. Condon, P. Cotter, R. O’Connell, P. Hoye, J. Kearney, P. Lynch, A. Mannix, R. Coakley.
CASHEL CS: P. Ryan, J. Dwyer, T. Hewitt, P. Hayes, P. Ivers, J. McCarthy, D. Carr, E. Shine, J. Hayes, M. Harding, D. Hickey, B. Maher, F. O’Keeffe, R. O’Dwyer, P. O’Dwyer, subs. W. Fitzell for O’Keeffe.
Referee B. White (Wexford).