It was nearly four minutes into injury-time, teams tied, when Árd Scoil Rís substitute Brendan O’Connor grabbed a well-placed Kevin Downes centre on the edge of the Flannan’s square. With Flannan’s full-back and captain Cillian Ryan in close attendance, O’Connor twisted this way and that as he chased a winning score.
Nothing opened up, however, and suddenly he was on the deck. Referee Willie Barrett, however, wasn’t impressed. O’Connor was dispossessed, and as the ball was cleared, the final whistle sounded.
Barrett was right up with the action and his call seemed absolutely correct. What’s more, on overall play, Árd Scoil Rís can have no real cause for complaint with the final result.
They led at the break, 2-2 to 0-5, but were fortunate to do so. Both goals were lucky, the first coming in the 12th minute after Flannan’s keeper Niall Woods misjudged a high drive from Rís midfielder and Conor Ryan.
Woods made up for that slip with a superb save from a Pat McCarthy piledriver from close range, but in the third minute of added time he was again beaten, this time by full-forward James O’Brien, who used his full height and telescopic arm to get a flick on a breaking ball.
Points from Downes and centre-back Declan Hannon, closed out the Rís scoring, while full-forward Niall Arthur did all the honours for Flannan’s. Those two, Arthur and Hannon, were to prove the two outstanding players in this game.
Second half, and with the breeze now mostly behind Árd Scoil Rís, the omens looked good for the Limerick college; within four minutes they had extended their lead, 2-4 to 0-6.
There’s fight in this Flannan’s side, however, down the middle especially, and with Ryan, centre-back Brian Hehir, midfielders Fergus Ryan (a dynamo) and Alan Leamy, and centre-forward Aaron Considine all supplying the ammunition, Arthur kept the scoreboard ticking over, and gradually that lead was whittled down.
Level after 44 minutes, 2-6 to 0-11, level again thrice more over the next ten minutes, Rís taking the lead each time only to be hauled back immediately by Flannan’s.
During this period each of the half-forwards on both sides scored, Conor O’Donnell, Considine and Eamonn Malone for Flannan’s, Niall Kennedy, James O’Brien and Robert Helehan for Árd Scoil Rís.
Even in the conditions, we saw some lovely touches of skill, Hannon putting on an exhibition at centre-back for Árd Scoil Rís – hard to believe this lad isn’t yet 17.
The final two scores came in injury time, O’Donnell looking to have stolen it for Árd Scoil Rís with a well-struck point after a super pick-up, but the ever-reliable Arthur cancelled that one out a minute later, before we had the closing controversy.
Scorers for St Flannan’s: N Arthur 0-11 (0-8 f); C O’Donnell, A Considine, A Leamy, E Malone, 0-1 each.
Árd Scoil Rís: J O’Brien 1-1; C Ryan 1-0; N Kennedy 0-2; D Hannon 0-2 (f) K Downes 0-2 (f); R Henehan, K Keane, 0-1 each.
ST FLANNAN’S: N Woods; R McNamara, C Ryan (capt), G O’Connell; P Flanagan, B Hehir, S O’Halloran; F Ryan, A Leamy; C O’Donnell, A Considine, E Malone; S O’Connor, N Arthur, D O’Halloran.
Sub: T Kelly (O’Connor 27).
ÁRD SCOIL RÍS: PJ Hall; K Hurley, T Nolan, E Mulvihill ; A Dempsey, D Hannon, C McInerney; S O’Brien, C Ryan (capt); N Kennedy, J O’Brien, R Henehan; S Dowling, K Downes, P McCarthy.
Subs: K Keane (O’Brien inj 21); B O’Connor (McCarthy 36).
Referee: W Barrett (Tipperary).