Thurles aim to keep Honan quiet as Árd Scoil eye final

FROM early in the competition, Árd Scoil Rís were shaping up as serious contenders for this year’s Dr Harty Cup title.

Up to now they have done all that has been asked of them, but on Sunday, they face the acid test when they play Thurles CBS in the semi-final in Dolla at midday.

The timing of the game is to facilitate Thurles followers to make it back to Semple Stadium for the Tipperary/Offaly NHL tie.

Having dropped just a point in their three Round Robin games, the Limerick school went on to oust Doon CBS by three goals in the quarter-final, with a polished display. They laid the foundation for their 3-9 to 0-9 win in the first half when they turned over 2-4 to 0-4 in front.

The towering figure of Darach Honan earned 2-3 of his side’s final tally.

How Thurles full back Kevin O’Gorman copes with Honan’s height advantage should be one of the highlights of what promises to be a marvellous semi-final.

Árd Scoil Rís are no one-man team, however. Conor Ryan is another forward with a keen eye for a score, while Cathal McInerney and Kieran Kennedy form a very solid midfield partnership.

Thurles go into the match with the advantage of an extra game played. They were involved in two classic matches against Our Lady’s (Templemore) in their quarter-final before emerging winners by two points.

Defensively, the Tipperary school are rock solid, with county minors O’Gorman and James Barry, two of the best at this level. However it’s in attack Thurles are at their best.

The Limerick side cannot afford to concede many frees with David Butler around, while Kieran Morris, John O’Neill and Ciaran Shelly will score given half a chance.

The second semi-final is an all-Waterford affair between the holders DLS and the West Colleges in Dungarvan this afternoon.

Like Árd Scoil Rís, DLS served notice very early on that it will take a good team to dethrone them. In fact their chances have greatly increased as their opponents must play without first-choice goalkeeper David Moore and full forward Maurice Shanahan who are both suspended.

DLS have the guts of last year’s winning side, which went on to take national honours as well, available again. Strong all over the field, you won’t get a better half back line than Noel Connors, Philip Mahony and Stephen Daniels, while Brian O’Sullivan, Stephen Power and Peter McCarthy are all scoring forwards.

The loss of Shanahan and Moore are massive for the West Waterford Colleges side and even at full strength, they would find it very difficult. DLS should reach a second successive final with something to spare.

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