Forde, captain of the Tipp minors last summer, has established himself as the talisman of this Nenagh CBS side and he delivered once more here with a staggering haul of 1-10.
It was his solitary goal and final point that transpired to be the crucial scores. In the 57th minute he wiped out the two-point lead that Ardscoil Rís possessed when taking a pass from Tadhg Gallagher before racing through the defence, shortening his grip to avoid a hook from Stephen Fitzgerald, and flicking the ball to the net.
Ardscoil Rís responded and levelled the game in the 61st minute when the nerveless Jamie Shanahan, under immense pressure near the sideline, fired over a long-rang free.
Yet Forde had the final say, collecting the ball in the middle third, scything through the Ardscoil Rís rearguard and lofting over a marvellous winning point. It was a heartbreaking defeat for Ardscoil Rís and was the first loss the school have suffered in this competition since their 2009 Dr Harty Cup semi-final loss to St Caimin’s (Shannon).
They came close to maintaining their three-in-a-row ambitions here with David Dempsey, PJ Hall, Ronan Lynch and Shanahan all making excellent contributions.
Nenagh CBS now face a novel final against Coláiste na Déise on Sunday week, with two schools who have never won this competition set to battle for honours. Forde has amassed 2-31 in his last four games, yet was keen to apportion the praise elsewhere.
“It’s a team effort. They’re all a great bunch of lads who have worked hard all year. The Harty wasn’t taken that seriously in the school for the last number of years. But Donagh O’Donnell and Niall Quigley have come in and done a tremendous job. I can’t thank them enough, if it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.
“Jason led by example and is a great character,” said Nenagh CBS manager Donagh O’Donnell afterwards. “For a fella who didn’t hit a ball from play last week, to come back and put up a score like that again was phenomenal.”
Nenagh CBS had made the early running, assisted by the wind, to lead 0-3 to 0-0 after only six minutes. By the 20th minute they were still in the ascendancy by 0-5 to 0-3 yet Forde was their only scorer in the first-half and Ardscoil Rís gradually worked their way back into contention as they played intelligent hurling.
Shanahan, who started at full-forward, was withdrawn to midfield midway through the half where he was influential while Dempsey produced a splendid block to deny Jack Loughnane a goal in the 12th minute. Ardscoil Rís, who chalked up 12 wides in total, saw some shots from placed balls drift wide of the post but their accuracy improved to draw level at 0-7 apiece at the interval.
The reigning champions gained the initiative early in the second-half and held it for long stages. Ronan Lynch fired over a few points from frees while Barry O’Connell nullified Forde’s threat for a spell.
Nenagh CBS struggled to make headway up front, with a fine point by Stephen O’Brien their only score in the first 20 minutes of the second-half, but the superb defending of Jack Peters and Donncha Quinn helped keep Ardscoil Rís at bay.
The action became more frenetic nearing the finish as a pair of Forde frees tied the game at 0-10 apiece with eight minutes to go.
Impressive scores by William O’Donoghue and Jack Kelleher swung the pendulum back in the favour of Ardscoil Rís but it was Forde who came to the fore when his team’s need was greatest at the death.
Scorers for Nenagh CBS: J Forde 1-10 (0-6f), S O’Brien 0-1.
Scorers for Ardscoil Rís: R Lynch (0-5f), J Shanahan (0-4f) 0-5 each, W O’Donoghue, J Kelleher, C Lynch 0-1 each.
NENAGH CBS: W Power (Silvermines); D Quinn (Éire Óg Nenagh), K Gubbins (Éire Óg Nenagh), S Cleary (Kilruane McDonaghs); E Hynes (Templederry), J Peters (Kilruane McDonaghs), J Flaherty (Burgess); J Loughnane (Kildangan), T Gallagher (Kildangan); C Delaney (Toomevara), J Forde (Silvermines), S O’Brien (Ballina); J Mackey (Éire Óg Nenagh), P Shanahan (Toomevara), P Fogarty (Silvermines).
Subs: S Geaney (Éire Óg Nenagh) for Shanahan (half-time), K Gleeson (Éire Óg Nenagh) for Mackey (54).
ARDSCOIL RÍS: D Dempsey (Na Piarsaigh); R Kirby (Mungret), PJ Hall (Adare), K McNamara (Na Piarsaigh); E Fitzgerald (Claughaun), B O’Connell (Kildimo), S Fitzgerald (Claughaun); J Hannon (Adare), R Lynch (Na Piarsaigh); C Lynch (Patrickswell), K O’Brien (Patrickswell), J Kelleher (Patrickswell); M O’Loughlin (Clonlara), J Shanahan (Sixmilebridge), L O’Brien (Adare).
Subs: W O’Donoghue (Na Piarsaigh) for L O’Brien (half-time), M Foley (Na Piarsaigh) for K O’Brien (35), C O’Brien (Mungret) for O’Loughlin (42).
Referee: Pat Casey (Waterford)