In the air or on the ground, Thurles were the complete masters. The silken skills of James Barry at centre-back easily the man of the match and the pace and hurling artistry of Kieran Morris and John O’Neill, all combined to ensure their school made it back to their first final since 2004.
Ardscoil Rís were a huge disappointment. They went into the game off the back of some impressive results, including a draw with Thurles, yet they only played in patches yesterday.
They finished the first half strongly with three points in-a-row to trail 1-7 to 0-4 at the break, struggled for most of the second half until the closing 10 minutes when they rallied a second time to be just three points down. However, had their goal come earlier, it might have given them the impetus to go on and win the game.
This was Ardscoil Rís’s first semi-final appearance and their lack of experience showed. On the other hand Thurles fielded several members of last year’s Tipperary All-Ireland winning minor team and the difference was very evident.
The Limerick side struggled to cope with the paced and trickery of the Thurles forwards Kieran Morris and John O’Neill, and only Nicky O’Connell at centre-back was up to the task.
Their forwards could make little headway against a superbly drilled Thurles defence in which Kevin O’Gorman kept a very tight rein on the dangerous Darach Honan, and with that threat considerably reduced, the Ardscoil Rís attack lacked any real penetration.
Apart from Honan, Niall Kennedy and Tomas O’Brien they posed no real threat in attack.
Thurles served notice after just a minute when John O’Neill’s had a rasping shot superbly saved by Barry Hennessy. It was an indication of what was to come. Hurling with supreme confidence all over the superbly manicured pitch, Thurles scorched into a 1-7 to 0-1 lead after 22 minutes, David Butler scoring their goal, and the outcome looked a foregone conclusion.
However, after Ardscoil Rís switched Darach Honan out onto the forty, they finally began to play and three points in-a-row, left Thurles 1-7 to 0-4 in front at the interval.
The second half developed into a great struggle as Thurles began to struggle for scores while Ardscoil Rís gradually whittled down the lead and by the end of the third quarter only Butler’s goal stood between the sides.
The Thurles defence was under enormous pressure as Ardscoil Rís looked for the all important goal, but with James Barry tremendous at centre back, they weathered the storm and four unanswered points gave them a seven point cushion.
If Ardscoil Rís were to have any chance they needed a goal, and threw caution to the wind by moving centre back Nicky O’Connell to attack, but when it finally did come, from a 20 metre free drilled home by Thomas O’Brien, it was far too little, too late.
Scorers for Thurles CBS: D. Butler 1-2 (0-2 frees); K. Morris (0-1 free), J. O’Neill 0-4 each; D. Maher, Colm Ryan, A. McCormack, T. Comerford 0-1 each.
Scorers for Ardscoil Ris: T. O’Brien 1-2 (frees); N. Kennedy 0-3; D. Honan 0-2; Conor Ryan, D. Hannan, K. Downes 0-1 each.
B. McCormack; S. Maher, K. O’Gorman, P. Ryan, M.Doyle, J. Barry, R. Ryan; D. Maher, P. O’Brien; C. Shelly, M. Green, C. Ryan; J. O’Neill, D. Butler, K. Morris.
Subs: M. Russell for Green; A. McCormack for Shelly; T. Comerford for Butler; T. Bracken for R. Ryan.
B. Hennessy; I. O’Donoghue, D. Lynch, E. Mulvihill; T. Nolan, N. O’Connell, C. McInerney; P. Gleeson, K. Kennedy; N. Kennedy, C. Ryan, K. Downes; T. O’Brien, D. Honan, K. Brennan.
Subs: D. Hannan for Gleeson; S. O’Brien for Brennan; R. Sheehan for Ryan.
J. McMahon (Clare).