Master McGrath savours success as mighty De La Salle retain Harty Cup

DLS Waterford easily retained their Dr Harty Cup (Munster Colleges SHC A) title in a poor decider at Cashel on Saturday.

The victors were the complete masters and it was easy to understand the delight of coach Derek McGrath, who along with Dermot Dooley, masterminded the win.

Said McGrath: “It’s a fantastic achievement to put two titles back to back. It will do wonders for underage hurling in Waterford.

“Having played with a strong wind and only leading by four points at half time, people must have doubted we could win, but we felt we had their measure. We knew they had a couple of very serious forwards but I must praise our defence. Their discipline was magnificent and they never gave the Thurles attack any freedom, but more importantly they didn’t concede too many frees.

“Last year physical power won the final for us. Today I would like to think we also had our fair share of skilful players. We have put a lot of time and effort into this group and they rewarded us with a second Harty title.”

It’s testament to the brilliance of their defence that DLS conceded one goal in the six games of this campaign, while their attack have amassed 23-93.

Mindful of the threat posed by the CBS attack and in particular All-Ireland minor winner John O’Neill, DLS gambled by moving Noel Connors from his half back to undertake a man marking job on the Thurles talisman.

O’Neill hardly got a look in and his contribution of a solitary point was testament to Connors’ magnificence all afternoon.

But DLS can thank goalkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe also after he denied David Butler at a crucial stage early in the second half.

Barry Coughlan at full back, Philip Mahony and Oran Keevers were others defenders to leave an indelible mark on this final.

Midfielder Jake Dillon will remember his first Harty Cup final for the rest of his life. Already a Dean Ryan Cup medal holder Dillon, at 15 years of age, could make it a clean sweep should DLS go on and win this year’s White Cup title.

Twelve months ago Stephen Power was the hero for the Waterford school with his incredible scoring feats. On Saturday he contributed handsomely again, bagging seven points, all from frees, two from over 90 yards out and one from a side line cut.

Peter McCarthy was a constant thorn in the side of the Thurles defence and he finished with 1-2, while Niall Clifford, Brian O’Sullivan and Pauric Mahony shone in a thrilling victory.

Thurles disappointed when the need was greatest.

Bill McCormack could not be faulted for the goal that beat him, and he did make a superb save to deny Brian O’Sullivan just before half time.

Kevin O’Gorman and James Barry did all they could to get their colleagues to respond, but with the threat of John O’Neill, Kieran Morris and Ciaran Shelley considerably reduced, it was never going to be Thurles’s day.

Thurles elected to play into the strong wind. DLS led 0-2 to nil after three minutes but with both defences on top, scores were scarce and after 25 minutes the Tipperary school trailed by two 0-5 to 0-3.

DLS forced the pace to the break and Stephen Power pointed two long range points and it took that wonderful save by Thurles netminder Bill McCormack to deny the Waterford school a goal. At half time DLS held an 0-7 to 0-3 lead and it didn’t look to be enough as Thurles turned to play with the elements. That view was reinforced seconds after the resumption when O’Neill landed a point.

The pressure on the DLS defence began to mount and it took a great save by their ‘keeper O’Keeffe to deny Butler a goal. So evenly matched were the teams that the opening goal was always going to be the crucial score and it came DLS’s way in the 38th minute.

Jake Dillon found Peter McCarthy and he weaved past a couple of defenders including the goalkeeper before shooting to the empty net.

The defending champions put up the shutters in defence by pulling players back behind the ball and in a very crowded DLS half the physically stronger Waterford side defied the best Thurles had to offer.

Scorers for DLS: S. Power 0-7 (frees); P. McCarthy 1-2; N. Clifford, D. Purcell 0-1 each.

Scorers for Thurles: D. Butler 0-2 (frees); C. Shelley, C. Ryan, J. O’Neill, K. Morris (free), J. Barry (free) 0-1 each.

DLS WATERFORD: S. O’Keeffe; R. Cunningham, B. Coughlan, N. Connors; O. Keevers, P. Mahony, S. Daniels; J. Dillon, E. Barrett; D. Purcell, N. Clifford, P. McCarthy; S. Power, B. O’Sullivan, P. Mahony.

Subs: P. Farrelly for Purcell; B. Norris for Cunningham.

THURLES CBS: B. McCormack; S. Maher, K. O’Gorman, P. Ryan; M. Doyle, J., Barry, R. Ryan; D. Maher, P. O’Brien; C. Shelley, M. Greene, C. Ryan; J. O’Neill, D. Butler, K. Morris.

Subs: M. Russell for Greene; A. McCormack for Shelley; P. Looby for R. Ryan; P. Molloy for D. butler.

Referee: G. Hoey (Clare).

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