It was a typically wholehearted Cork/Kerry affair with the sides level on seven occasions until substitute Jason Philpott edged Críost Rí in front in the 50th minute and they remained there to the finish.
There were many heroes for Críost Rí, full-forward Luke Connolly absolutely magnificent despite being marked by three different Tralee players.
Conor Horgan, Eoghan McGreevy and Paul Fitzgerald were other attackers to impress while the superb high fielding of Shane O’Keeffe, ably assisted by Eoghan Finn, ensured the Cork school won the midfield exchanges.
However, it was in defence where Críost Rí impressed most. Despite conceding height advantage, the Críost Rí backs were superb. They were first to every ball and the workrate of all six including Cork minor Kevin Fulignati, Donal O’Keeffe, Stephen Cronin and Tomas Lawrence was a treat to watch as they constantly chased and forced the Tralee side into mistakes.
Tralee were firm favourites to reach the decider, and when Jamie Moriarty finished a great passing movement to the Críost Rí net to put his side a goal in front 10 minutes into the second half, they looked likely winners.
However, their failure to feed Moriarty more often was difficult to understand given that he was the only Tralee forward to trouble the Críost Rí defence. Apart from him, Alan Crean, JC O’Connor and Sean Moloney were others to make fine contributions.
There was no separating the teams in the opening half as they traded points to be level at 0-5 each at the break. But it could have been so much different had Sean Moloney not blazed over the bar in the opening 30 seconds with only the goalkeeper to beat. Then Eoghan McGreevy’s shot came back off the post at the other end following a defence splitting passing movement. It was that kind of match.
Points were shared in the early minutes of the second-half before Tralee struck for their goal in the 40th minute which put them 1-7 to 0-7 in front. Despite John C. O’Connor doing well for them at midfield, Tralee’s lead lasted only five minutes and while Críost Rí’s equalising goal had an element of good fortunate about it, their outfield work was deserving of it.
A great passing movement out of defence was carried on by Eoghan Finn deep into the Tralee defence where he lost possession, but in an attempt to clear his lines a defender only succeeded in knocking the ball back to his ‘keeper. However, Finn was in quickly to slip the ball home for a goal which tied the game for the seventh and final time.
Críost Rí then made their push for home with points by Philpott and Conor Horgan, and only a brilliant save by Tralee ‘keeper Peter Nammock, who deflected the shot over his crossbar, denied Luke Connolly a goal.
In a hectic last five minutes, points by Jamie Moriarty kept the issue alive for his side, but it was fitting that Conor Horgan should have the final say with a point deep into injury time to round off a very impressive display.
Scorers for Críost Rí: C Hogan 0-6 (0-3 frees); E Finn 1-0; L Connolly 0-2; E McGreevey, C Dalton, J Philpott 0-1 each.
Scorers for Tralee CBS: J Moriarty 1-5 (0-3 frees); S Moloney 0-2; D Carroll, S Walsh 0-1 each.
J Kerins; D O’Keeffe, K Fulignati, I Lucey; E Dennehy, T Lawrence, S Cronin; S O’Keeffe, E Finn; P Fitzgerald, E McGreevy, C Horgan; A Nolan, L Connolly, C Dalton.
Subs: J Philpott for Nolan (45); M Lyons for Lucey (45).
P Nammock; R O’Shea, M Tierney, A Crean; I McCarthy, J Moran, C Deane; JC O’Connor, L Bastible; N Sheehy, S Walsh, S Moloney; R Quill, J Moriarty, S O’Callaghan.
Subs: D Carroll for Quill (20); J Savage for O’Callaghan (50).
Referee: M Meade (Limerick).