Tralee CBS battle on as full-back red-carded

FORCED to play the second-half with 14 players, Tralee CBS qualified for their first All-Ireland Colleges SFC final with a thrilling victory in a superb semi-final at Templemore on Saturday.

It was a result that didn’t look likely when the Munster champions lost full back Joe Scully to a straight red after an innocuous incident with towering full-forward Patrick O’Rourke before the break. They then turned to play into the wind holding a two-point lead (0-7 to 0-5).

Whatever coaches John O’Keeffe and Eamon Walsh said at half-time had the desired effect. Playing the possession game to perfection, they frustrated the Leinster champions throughout a marvellous second half and there was never a doubt about the outcome after Brendan Dillon slipped home a goal in the 42nd minute to give Tralee a six -point lead which they held to the finish.

The Green had many heroes against a side who fielded five of the team which lost last year’s All-Ireland final to Abbey CBS (Down). The defence was outstanding with Scully, until he was sent off, Danny O’Sullivan, Sean Higgins and Denis McElligott particularly impressive.

Stephen Browne and Barry Shanahan lorded it at midfield, while up front the two Barry Johns, Walsh and Keane, and Paul Culloty caused endless problems for an overworked Pat’s defence. However one man — Alan O’Donoghue — was a class apart. He was absolutely superb, bobbing and weaving his way past defenders and he hit six points, five from play.

Indeed he was desperately unlucky not to score two goals. Twice he got inside his marker but with only the goalkeeper to beat, his efforts shaved the crossbar before going over.

Pat’s, who had shaded the issue over Knockbeg in the recent Leinster final, can have no complaints. They could never come to grips with the football skill of the Green, showed a decided weakness in attack and only Darragh Smyth, David Maguire, Patrick O’Rourke and Brian Sheridan shone.

Tralee won the toss and elected to play with the wind leading 0-4 to 0-1 after eight minutes, but the lively Smyth had the deficit down to the minimum after 20 minutes.

The Pat’s plan was to pump high balls into O’Rourke on the edge of the Tralee square but full-back Scully played him from the front and won practically all the possession.

Struggling to make any impression at midfield, Pat’s brought O’Rourke out and brought on Andrew Collins, but it mattered little as Tralee dictated matters.

Things appeared to go sour for them when Scully received a straight red card for his clash with O’Rourke.

It left the Green a man short for the entire second half and a two-point half -time lead didn’t look anywhere good enough as Pat’s turned to play with the wind. Undaunted, Tralee rose to the challenge and points by O’Donoghue and Stephen Browne minutes into the second half gave them breathing space.

However, Pat’s numerical advantage was causing problems and they made it pay in the 40th minute with a goal by O’Rourke.

Back came Tralee and in a devastating two minutes they killed off the Pat’s challenge with a goal and a point.

l O’Donoghue pointed a free, then created the goal chance when the Pats ‘keeper failed to hold his cross and Brendan Dillon was on hand to bundle the ball over the line. There was no way back for the Leinster men.

Scorers for CBS: A O’Donoghue 0-6 (0-1 free); B Dillon 1-1; BJ Keane 0-2; BJ Walsh, S Browne, D McElligott (45), P Culloty 0-1 each.

Scorers for St Patrick’s Navan: B Sheridan (0-2 frees, 0-1 45), D Smyth 0-3 each; P O’Rourke 1-0; J Power 0-1.

TRALEE CBS: K O’Shea; D O’Sullivan, J Scully, G Rolls; S Higgins, B Costello, S Browne; R O’Callaghan, B Dillon, BJ Keane; A O’Donoghue, P Culloty, BJ Walsh.

Sub: S Carroll for O’Callaghan.

ST PATRICK’S NAVAN: B Carolan; B McGrane, K Lynch, G Sheridan; D Morgan, D Maguire, R Barry; R Shields, C O’Sullivan; A Khan, B Sheridan, D Smyth; J Rogers, P O’Rourke, S Moran.

Subs: A Collins Lynch; J O’Regan for Khan; C O’Reilly for Regan; D Kelly for Shields.

Referee: E Kinsella (Laois).

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