Shrouded in a pall of gloom following the death of first year student Thomas O’Keeffe, and wearing black armbands as a mark of respect, St. Colman’s finally ended gallant De La Salle’s challenge with a superb goal from captain Andrew O’Shaughnessy, eight minutes from the end of a tremendous contest.
This was one of the great games in the recent history of the Dr. Harty Cup. In atrocious conditions, De La Salle gave it their all, but their heroism was not enough to deny supremely talented St. Colman’s a tilt at the three in-a-row.
De La Salle fought with tigerish intensity to dethrone the champions and two early points from Gearoid O’Connor and James Quirke (free), gave them much cause for hope.
Quirke, with his immaculate freetaking was to emerge a dominant figure, but St. Colman’s had his equal in the person of Patrick Kirby.
Quirke pointed six times from placed balls, while Kirby went one better with a point from play.
The sides were level at three points apiece following the opening quarter.
Then the class of St. Colman’s told and the gap began to widen.
But grimly, sometimes over robustly, De La Salle, who had three players yellow carded in the first half, held on.
It was 0-7 to 0-4 coming up to half-time and then St. Colman’s struck a vital blow.
Kirby won a great ball and played it into the path of O’Shaughnessy, who in turn, set up left corner-forward Michael Allen for a peach of a goal.
St. Colman’s, with Brian Lane, Eamon Condon and Kevin O'Mahony excelling at the back, and Seamus Stack doing some sterling work at midfield, looked on course for a comfortable victory.
But De La Salle refused to throw-in the towel. With Quirke and Kirby exchanging points, St. Colman’s maintained their six points advantage entering the closing quarter.
Then De La Salle really threw the cat among the pigeons in the 48th minute. Gearoid O’Connor soloed through, and when his first attempt was brilliantly saved by stylish goalkeeper Denis Fitzgerald, the De La Salle left corner-forward kicked the rebound to the net.
Quirke quickly followed with a point from a free, and with De La Salle now just two points in arrears, and looking ever more menacingly, it was all to play for.
But St. Colman’s response was brilliantly effective Centre-forward John O’Donnell floated a high ball in. O’Shaughnessy plucked it out of the air, swivelled, and let fly to the back of the net.
It clinched the match, lifting the spirits of St. Colman’s and leaving brave De La Salle shattered.
Scorers for St. Colman's. A. Shaughnessy 1-1; M. Allen 1-1; P. Kirby 0-7 (0-6 from frees); P. Kearney 0-1.
De. La Salle. G. O'Connor 1-1; J. Quirke 0-6 (0-6 from frees); K. Moran and M. Barden 0-1 each.
ST. COLMAN'S: D. Fitzgerald; J. Dorgan, B. Lane, E. Condon; C. Griffen, K. O'Mahony, S. Barrett; S. Stack, A. Kearney; P. Kirby, J. O'Donnell, P. Kearney; A. O'Shaughnessy, F. Browne, M. Allen. Sub. C. Coakley for Browne.
DE LA SALLE: J. Dooley; D. Russell, W. Hutchinson, M. Doherty; P. Hogan, N. Delahunty, T. Power; G. Molloy, S. O'Sullivan; J. Quirke, K. Moran, P. Nevin; A. Ryan, M. Barden, G. O'Connor. Subs: P. Kelly for O'Sullivan; J. Madigan for Ryan.
Referee. W. Barrett (Tipperary).