The Waterford college, unbeaten in three games, march confidently through to the knockout quarter-final stage while the losers only have an outside chance of remaining in contention for the last eight after suffering a second defeat in four outings.
The importance of the result clearly wasn’t lost on either side and from the outset the exchanges had an edge to them that almost inevitably led to confrontation.
The first quarter exchanges were fractious and things boiled over after 20 minutes when De La Salle corner forward Stephen Power was red carded for a wild pull.
The dismissal followed consultation between the referee and his umpires, and while there could be no questioning their decision, the officials were guilty of failing to punish a similar infringement on Power minutes earlier.
At that stage De La Salle were in control, leading by an unflattering 1-5 to 0-3, and holding sway in all the key areas. Their goal came in the fourth minute, a super one-too from corner forward Peter McCarthy building on the brace of pointed frees by Power inside 90 seconds.
There was only one further score in the half after Power’s departure when Craig Moloney pointed a 65, Despite trailing 1-6 to 0-3 at the break Colman’s must have hoped their numerical advantage would tell on the restart.
That advantage however was to last six minutes with corner forward Michael Condon red-carded after Leo Sexton’s goal attempt from a 20 metre free was kept out by the defensive wall.
Sixty seconds later two more players, Shane Cotter and Alan O’Neill, were shown yellow cards as the exchanges got even tougher, but for all their creditable determination Colman’s were making little, if any, headway.
It was all over as a contest in the 39th minute when Neil Kelly finished Craig Moloney’s 65 to the net to widen the gap to ten points, 2-7 to 0-3, and fortunately tempers cooled thereafter as De La Salle strolled to the most facile of victories.
To Colman’s credit they kept battling. Shane Cotter tried to drive them on from midfield while the Kearneys — Shane and Michael — worked relentlessly in search of scores.
But they simply didn’t have the firepower to punch through their opponent’s defence in which the half back trio of Philip Mahoney, David O’Sullivan, and Frank McGrath were virtually unbeatable.
Their only consolation came in the shape of Shane Kearney’s goal from a 56th minute free, but as if to emphasise who was running this particular show De La Salle responded with magnificent points from Moloney and Kelly to ensure their side’s safe passage to the quarter-final.
De La Salle: C. Moloney (0-6, 0-4 frees, 0-1 “65’); P. McCarthy (1-1); N. Kelly (1-1); S. Power (0-3, 0-2 frees, 0-1 “65’); J. Doran, T. Connors(0-1) each. St. Colman’s: S. Kearney (1-1, 1-0 free); S. Cotter (0-3, frees); L. Sexton (0-2, 0-1 free, 0-1 “65’); A. Cronin (0-1).
S. O’Keeffe; P. Kennedy, E. Morrissey, N. Connors; P. Mahony, D. O’Sullivan, F. McGrath; A. O’Neill, J. Doran; T. Connors, N. Kelly, M. Grace; S. Power, C. Moloney, P. McCarthy.
K. Gahan for O’Neill; A. Brophy for T. Connors; E. Casey for Grace; C. O’Toole for Morrissey; S. Daniels for Doran.
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; B. O’Sullivan, M. Kearney, M. Condon.
: M. McCarthy for Kenny; T. Ryan for O’Callaghan; M. O’Leary for O’Connor; M. Flynn for Hannon.
B White, Tipperary.