For Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, competing in the Corn Uí Mhuirí for the first time, these have been a remarkable few weeks.
With nine points to spare over four-in-a-row champions Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne at the end of last month, the Rathmore college put one foot in the quarter-finals yesterday with a 10-point win over Coláíste Chríost Rí.
Leading 1-5 to 0-2 at the break, having had the wind, it was the second-half display from Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra that is sure to see them marked out as serious title contenders come the knockout stages.
Coláíste Chríost Rí pair Eoin O’Keeffe and Cillian Myers-Murray, with a point apiece upon the change of ends, hinted at a comeback. Their opponents, however, were quick to quell such hopes.
Patient and intelligent in switching from defence to attack, the Rathmore students punched hole after hole in the Críost Rí rearguard. A Dean Fitzgerald free on 38 minutes was the first of five unanswered points from the winners; sub Michael O’Mahony, centre-back Kieran O’Connor, Connie O’Connor and Shane O’Sullivan also on target. A Cillian Myers-Murray effort stopped the rot momentarily, but two points from the outstanding Brian Friel and Shane O’Sullivan, edged Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra 1-12 to 0-5 clear, effectively wrapping up this game.
Corner-forward Myers-Murray, who finished with 0-7, continued to fight a lone battle at the other end; he posted two minors in quick succession on 55 minutes. The final say, though, went to Rathmore, Dean Fitzgerald bagging his second goal on 59 minutes after clever work from Mark Ryan and Shane O’Sullivan. Fitzgerald’s opening major after 24 minutes was a crucial score as the Rathmore college had struggled to capitalise on a strong wind.
O’Sullivan and Fitzgerald split the posts in the ensuing minutes to establish a foothold for the Kerry side for the first time in the tie. Críost Rí’s failure to score from play in the opening half, added to the number of chances squandered, handed the initiative to their opponents and, thereafter, they were unable to wrestle it back.
D Fitzgerald (2-3, 0-1 free); S O’Sullivan (0-3); K O’Connor, C O’Connor, I Roche, B Friel, M O’Mahony, C O’Leary (0-1 each).
C Myers-Murray (0-7, 0-5 frees); E O’Keeffe (0-1).
G Cronin (Gneeveguilla); D Cronin (Rathmore), DJ Murphy (Gneeveguilla), D O’Callaghan (Rathmore); P Warren (Gneeveguilla), K O’Connor (Gneeveguilla), C O’Connor (Gneeveguilla); M Ryan (Rathmore), JJ Herlihy (Gneeveguilla); J O’Leary (Gneeveguilla), I Roche (Glenflesk), B Friel (Rathmore); C O’Leary (Gneeveguilla), S O’Sullivan (Gneeveguilla), D Fitzgerald (Rathmore).
M O’Mahony (Knocknagree) for Roche (34 mins), D Moynihan (Rathmore) for J O’Leary (50), S Twomey (Knocknagree) for Fitzgerald (59).
M O’Mahony (St Finbarr’s); C Scully (St Finbarr’s), M Crowley (Nemo Rangers), B Cripps (Nemo Rangers); J O’Brien (St Finbarr’s), E O’Keeffe (St Finbarr’s), S O’Brien (Nemo Rangers); C Dennehy (St Finbarr’s), J Ryan (Sliabh Rua); D Lucey (Mayfield), S Dennehy (St Finbarr’s), C Kelly (Nemo Rangers); S Hurley (St Finbarr’s), M Brosnan (Carrigaline), C Myers-Murray (St Finbarr’s).
M Hitchmough (Shamrocks) for Kelly (45 mins), J Coughlan (Nemo Rangers) for Brosnan (45), E O’Regan (St Finbarr’s) for S O’Brien (56).