Thurles turn up the heat to overpower Spioraid Naoimh

THURLES CBS opened the defence of their Dr Harty Cup title with a comfortable victory over Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh in the first round at Rathcormac yesterday.

Fielding seven of last year’s all-conquering squad, the champions were never going to lose this game, but the final scoreline is a little flattering as the Bishopstown school put up a brave show and were only a point adrift early in the second-half.

However, two goals in a minute by Pat Ralph ended any hopes of a shock result and the champions will only get better the longer they stay in the competition.

Defensively the Tipp school were outstanding. Full-back Dara Devane, corner-back Stephen Maher and centre-back Denis Maher were rock solid and the CSN attack never really functioned.

Thurles’s skill factor was very evident all over the field, but particularly in attack where Pat Ralph, Aidan McCormack, and Michael O’Brien caused endless problems for an overworked CSN defence.

Bishopstown defended well in the face of the constant pressure but full-back Conor Dorman and centre-back Diarmuid Lester did all they could to stem the tide, Lester showing his class with a delightful point after a great run.

Roger Ryan worked tirelessly at midfield but it was up front where CSN’s troubles lay and only Patrick Wiley and Conor McHugh posed any real danger to the Thurles defence. There was little to choose between the sides in the opening quarter at the end of which Thurles led 0-3 to 0-1. The signs were ominous for CSN who had to wait until the 15th minute for their opening score.

However, there was only going to be one result after Philip Looby found the CSN net despite the best efforts of Stephen Lynch, and without over exerting themselves, Thurles went on to lead 1-6 to 0-4 at half time.

CSN threatened to make a match of it with two quick points early in the second-half but a combination of poor finishing at one end and the concession of needless frees at the other both contributed to their eventual downfall.

The accuracy of Aidan McCormack both from frees and play had Thurles 1-11 to 0-6 in front by the three quarter-stage and in the space of the next 60 seconds they closed out the CSN challenge when the impressive Pat Ralph rounded his marker for two goals of outstanding quality.

Scorers for Thurles CBS: P. Ralph 2-0; A. McCormack 0-7 (0-5 frees); D. Maher 0-3 (0-2 frees); P. Looby 1-0; T. Doyle, M. Sadler, M. O’Brien 0-1 each.

CSN: B. Coffey 0-2 (0-1 65, 0-1 free); D. Lester, O. Ryan, P. Wiley, D. O’Brien, D. Cahalane (free) 0-1 each.

THURLES CBS: A. Stakelum; S. Maher, D. Devane, P. Dunne; C. Carroll, D. Maher, D. Fitzpatrick; P. Looby, M. Sadler; N. O’Brien, D. Ferncombe, P. Ralph; B. Campion, A. McCormack, M. O’Brien.

Subs: T. Doyle for O’Brien (17); C. Barrett for Ferncombe (40); C. Treacy for Sadler (50); A. Power for D. Maher (50); A. Dunne for P. Dunne (55).

CSN: S. Lynch; R. Sheahan, C. Dorman, P. Coakley; C. Dunne, D. Lester, D. Cahalane; B. Coffey, R. Ryan; O. Ryan, P. Wiley, C. McHugh; M. Collins, D. O’Brien, D. Delea.

Referee: D. Kirwan (Cork).

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