The Waterford city side were in formidable form in advancing to a semi-final date with local rivals Coláiste na Déise that bristles with promise. De La Salle will now be bidding to reach their first decider since they completed back to back titles in 2008 and the nature of this display will fuel their hopes.
The physical edge they enjoyed over Midleton CBS was a key facet on a day the soft pitch prevented either team from constructing flowing passages of play. The De La Salle rearguard were outstanding with full-back Paul Coughlan, centre-back Austin Gleeson and wing-back Sam O’Neill leading the way. The concession of only two points from play in the first-half and none in the second-half spoke volumes for the standards of their defending.
Behind them goalkeeper Mark Sheridan made a vital contribution in the first-half with a string of important saves, denying Midleton CBS a goal that would have invigorated their flagging challenge. De La Salle’s cause was aided by the absence of Cork minor Dillon Cahill with a hamstring injury. He had been the scoring star as Midleton topped Group B before Christmas and didn’t enter the action until midway through the second-half.
Star of the show for De La Salle was attacker Darragh O’Flynn. The Erin’s Own youngster, a Waterford minor last year, was responsible for every white flag De La Salle raised. His accuracy from placed balls was graphically illustrated in his return of 11 scores out of 13 efforts from a wide variety of angles. He consistently punished Midleton CBS indiscretions and was grateful to the likes of centre-forward Barry O’Sullivan who drew fouls with his ball-winning abilities.
O’Flynn’s prowess was central to De La Salle’s command on the scoreboard from the off. Yet the fact no other player managed to register a point may need to be addressed before their semi-final showdown.
O’Flynn early scoring heroics helped propel De La Salle into a 1-5 to 0-1 lead by the 17th minute. The goalarrived after seven minutes courtesy of Tom Mullally who was on hand to convert a rebound after Dessie Hutchinson’s initial shot had been saved by Coran Swayne. Midleton were struggling, yet they recovered admirably to enjoy their most productive spell before the interval.
In defence James McCarthy and Leslie Coughlan tightened up matters to ensure they stopped leaking scores while wing-back Stephen Treacy and full-forward Pat White floated over lovely points from play. Cormac Walsh, who constantly sought to drive the team on from midfield, held his nerve to bang over a couple of long-range frees and suddenly the interval deficit looked more manageable as they trailed 1-7 to 0-6.
However, the East Cork school never managed to maintain the impetus. The half-time break interrupted their momentum and they only managed to chalk up a single score in the second-half when Walsh struck over a free. De La Salle settled themselves at the interval and O’Flynn fired over three frees in the first four minutes of the second-half to create a larger gap on the scoreboard. Not even the introduction of dangerman Cahill could alter the outcome as the De La Salle defence held firm and substitute Conor Sheehan sealed victory when batting to the net in the 54th minute.
Scorers for De La Salle: D O’Flynn 0-12 (0-10f, 0-1 ’65), T Mullally, C Sheehan 1-0 each.
Scorers for Midleton CBS: C Walsh 0-4 (0-4f), S Treacy, D Morrissey (0-1f), P White 0-1 each.
DE LA SALLE: M Sheridan (Erin’s Own); B O’Keeffe (Ballygunner), P Coughlan (Ballygunner), K Walsh (Piltown); A O’Sullivan (De La Salle), A Gleeson (Mount Sion), S O’Neill (Erin’s Own); C Breheny (Butlerstown), S McNulty (De La Salle); M O’Brien (Ferrybank), B O’Sullivan (Ballygunner), D O’Flynn (Erins Own); D Hutchinson (Ballygunner), P Flynn (De La Salle), T Mullally (Ballygunner).
Subs: A Farrell (De La Salle) for O’Brien (50), C Sheehan (Ballygunner) for Mullally (51), R Hurley (Passage) for Hutchinson (55), C Fleming (Mooncoin) for Breheny (58).
MIDLETON CBS: C Swayne (Midleton); J McCarthy (Kiltha Óg), L Coughlan (Midleton), A Kenneally (Fr O’Neill’s); S Treacy (Killeagh), M O’Keeffe (Fr O’Neill’s), D Quirke (Midleton); C Walsh (Midleton), N Motherway (Kiltha Óg); D Cahill (Killeagh), I Kennefick (Midleton), D Walsh (Killeagh); D Morrissey (Midleton), P White (Midleton), S Hegarty (Kiltha Óg).
Subs: D Cahill (Cloyne) for Kennefick (43), D Dineen (Cloyne) for Kenneally (46), T Hartnett (Aghada) for Motherway (59).
Referee: N Cosgrave (Tipperary).