It wasn’t summer hurling — the heavy underfoot conditions, coupled with the long grass put paid to any hope of that. Nevertheless, with a good sprinkling of gifted hurlers on both teams, what we saw was about as good as you’re going to get at this time of year.
Colman’s drew first blood, a pointed free by wing-forward Leo Sexton, but from very early on it was apparent that the Limerick city college had the edge. A slight edge, but enough. Five points on the trot, courtesy of Tom O’Brien, Kieran Brennan, midfielder Nicky O’Connell, and half-backs Conor Allis and Colm Quinn, had them 0-5 to 0-1 ahead after the first quarter.
St. Colman’s rallied briefly, two pointed frees from Sexton to bring them within two, and it was game on. The final 10 minutes of the first half saw just one more score, but it would prove vital.
In the 24th minute, a good, fast, long ball was delivered from wing-forward Brennan to O’Brien in the corner. Coming in low, it was always to his advantage, and how the Patrickswell youngster capitalised. He controlled well, rounded his marker, onto his left side for a full shot from inside the 20m line and Colman’s keeper Ed Ahern had no chance. 1-5 to 0-3 at the break, that goal would prove to be the match-winner.
The second half took a while to make any impression on the scoreboard as two tenacious, well-coached sides kept space to a minimum and worked hard at closing down the opposition in possession. Finally, however, in the 38th minute, the deadlock was broken and not surprisingly, it was O’Brien who did the damage for Árd Scoil Rís.
Those two points put his side 1-7 to 0-3 ahead, a significant lead in a match where scores were at a premium. Colman’s weren’t done, came back almost immediately with two points of their own and not surprisingly again, both were scored by Sexton, both from frees. A point from wing-back Conor Allis (his second of the match) put Árd Scoil Rís six points ahead with quarter of an hour remaining, but again the Cork college came back.
Just when it was beginning to look like they might end the match without a single score from play, up popped all-action midfielder Shane Cotter with a fine point. Árd Scoil Rís were not to be denied, however, and even though they were outscored from there to the finish, three points to two, they managed to hold out for a well-merited four-point win.
Up next for Ard Scoi Rís, a date with Glanmire, while St Colman’s face De La Salle. Two tough games, all still to play for.
Árd Scoil Rís: T. O’Brien 1-4 (0-3 frees); C. Allis 0-2; K. Brennan, N. O’Connell, C. Quinn, K. Downes, 0-1 each. St. Colman’s: L. Sexton 0-8 (0-7 frees); A. Cronin 0-1.
B. Hennessey; I. O’Donoghue, N. Moloney, E. Mulvihill; C. Allis, C. Quinn, D. Lynch (c); M. McCormack, N. O’Connell; K. Kennedy, J. Keogh, K. Brennan; T. O’Brien, D. Honan, P. Gleeson.
O. Ó Dálaigh (Kennedy 43); K. Downes (Gleeson 60).
E. Ahern; K. Kenny, L. Forde, B. Hoare; L. O’Connor, S. Howard, S. Hannon; S. Cotter, A. Cronin; R. O’Callaghan, S. Kearney, L. Sexton; M. O’Callaghan, A. Condon, B. O’Sullivan.
M. Kearney (M. O’Callaghan 45); S. Finn (O’Sullivan 50).
R. O’Connor (Arravale Rovers).