It was Ard Scoil Rís who tied the game up at the death by rattling off three late points courtesy of John Fitzgibbon, Declan Hannon and Kevin Downes, who flashed over the levelling score in injury-time.
There was still time for Midleton to grab honours but goalkeeper William McCarthy’s late long-range free dropped just short and the Ard Scoil Rís defence cleared.
Coughing up a late three-point lead may indicate that Midleton departed with regrets, but that was a misleading conclusion in the context of the entire game. Considering the manner in which the opening quarter unfolded, Midleton will be delighted to have taken something from this game.
After 15 minutes the East Cork side trailed Ard Scoil Rís 1-6 to 0-1 and their Harty Cup hopes were threatening to collapse.
Ard Scoil Rís hurled in sparkling fashion early on. They boasted strong performers in centre-back Hannon and centre-forward Downes, both of whom will be in opposition in Sunday week’s Limerick county senior final, while wing-forward Mark Carmody was another lively operator. Their point-taking was crisp, with Midleton’s only reply being an effort by John Cronin in the sixth minute.
Midleton’s fortunes nosedived further in the 15th minute when Ard Scoil Rís midfielder Shane Dowling knifed through before arrowing a splendid shot to the net.
Matters looked like they had worsened a minute later when John Fitzgibbon grabbed a second Ard Scoil Rís goal, but it was disallowed as his shot was adjudged to have entered through the side-netting.
Midleton’s response from this debilitating start was truly remarkable. They extracted starring displays from defenders Finbarr O’Mahony and Daniel O’Mahony, midfielder Barry Lawton, and attackers Brian Hartnett and Stephen Moore. In the 18th minute full-forward Moore seized on a fumble by Ard Scoil Rís goalkeeper PJ Hall to bundle the ball to the net and that ignited Midleton’s recovery. Moore tacked on another point and then Hartnett fired over three excellent shots on the trot. A Hannon ‘65 ensured Ard Scoil Rís were 1-7 to 1-5 ahead at the break but Midleton were very much in contention.
The second-half was a cracking affair as the action ebbed and flowed. Midleton gained the upper hand early on with Moore and Conor Lehane proving a real handful close to goal for the Ard Scoil Rís defence. Moore clipped over some lovely points and then Lehane brilliantly billowed the net in the 40th minute after a great pass by Brian Hartnett. Further points by Moore and Hartnett had Midleton 2-10 to 1-9 in front entering the final quarter.
Ard Scoil Rís never panicked and the efforts of John Fitzgibbon, Hannon and Cathal McInerney helped maintain their composure. Despite inspirational points by Lawton and William Joyce for Midleton, Ard Scoil Rís had the margin trimmed to 2-12 to 1-12 with five minutes left.
They maintained that strong momentum to strike the late flurry of scores that tied the match by the end.
Scorers for Midleton CBS: S Moore 1-3, C Lehane 1-2, B Hartnett 0-4 (0-3f), J Cronin, B Lawton, W Joyce 0-1 each.
Ard Scoil Rís: D Hannon 0-5 (0-3 ‘65, 0-1f), S Dowling 1-0, J Fitzgibbon (0-3f), K Downes (0-1f) 0-3 each, M Carmody, S O’Brien 0-2 each
MIDLETON CBS: W McCarthy; K Burke, F O’Mahony, P O’Mahony; A Hayes, D Moynihan, S O’Brien; B Lawton, J Cronin; R Smart, E Healy, W Joyce; C Lehane, S Moore, B Hartnett.
Subs: D O’Mahony for O’Brien (16).
ARD SCOIL RÍS: PJ Hall; A Dempsey, S O’Connor, E McCarthy; C McInerney, D Hannon, M Moroney; S Dowling, J Shanahan; M Carmody, K Downes, S O’Brien; J Fitzgibbon, B O’Connor, M Ryan.
Subs: A McNamara for S O’Connor (41), C Keogh for Shanahan (46), K Keogh for Carmody (55).
Referee: S Hourigan (Rathkeale)