The number 14 had missed three frees and picked up a yellow card by the time this golden chance arose. From inside his own half, the 16-year-old made amends and fired it over the bar. It secured a draw which was enough to edge Midleton to a quarter-final place.
Manager Dermot Dooley took the decision to call out Douglas even though Harry Ruddle deputised during their second-half fightback and nailed four out of four placed balls.
“He missed three in front of the goal and this was further out. We had to take a chance because he is a good striker. Harry is 16 as well so we thought Thomas would have more composure at that stage of the game. It was a roll of the dice and he put it over thankfully.
“After trailing by seven points with 25 minutes on the clock, the sense of achievement was evident when De La Salle supporters rushed on to embrace their team at the full-time whistle. Dooley praised their fighting spirit to escape from a difficult group.
“They’re dedicated to the school and I’m so proud of them. It’s an amazing feeling to get over that line. Midleton were in hard luck because it’s a tough group and they should be competing for honours as well. This group was like a knockout the whole way through.”
It could have turned out differently for Midleton. Leading 0-12 to 0-6, Josh Beausang shot left and wide with the goal at his mercy 10 minutes into the second-half. A green flag at that juncture would have brought a halt to De La Salle’s comeback. Midleton failed to score for the rest of the contest.
The top pitch at the Waterford IT venue withstood the heavy rainfall of recent days and the team in red made use of the wind to scamper 0-11 to 0-5 ahead at halfway. Even though Donal Power cleared plenty of ball as De La Salle sweeper, seven different Midleton players split the posts. Centre-forward Kevin Moynihan was responsible for three from play with Beausang and John Looney on target twice. Late points by Douglas and Michael Mahony made the deficit more manageable before the first-half concluded.
For the opening 10 minutes of the second period, De La Salle made no headway however. Douglas was wide for the third occasion from a scoreable position and then Ross Walsh saved a Harry Ruddle stinger. Ruddle and Beausang traded frees before the Cork minor spurned that goal chance.
The introduction of Billy O’Sullivan and bringing out Ruddle to midfield sparked De La Salle into recovery. At the back, Lee Wall and Donal Power got a handle on the lively Midleton attack. Ruddle scored three in a row and another substitute Michael Costigan also got involved to leave them two points down with 10 minutes remaining. The industrious Daniel Coady won a free for Ruddle to convert. Midleton hit two costly wides over the closing minutes including a missed free from John Looney. Beausang also limped off injured. When Donal Power was fouled along the sideline with normal time almost up, Dooley knew even a misfiring Douglas could handle the pressure.
H Ruddle 0-5 (4fs); T Douglas 0-3 (3fs); E Daly, D Coady, M Costigan, M Mahony 0-1 each.
J Beausang (2fs), K Moynihan 0-3 each; J Looney 0-2; L O’Shea, L Gosnell, C Ruddy, B McCarthy 0-1 each.
R Ryan (Piltown); C Giles Doran (De La Salle), L Wall (De La Salle), G Cullinane (Passage); N Byrne (Ballygunner), P Hennebry (Mooncoin), M Kearns (Mooncoin); D Power (Passage), G Coppinger (De La Salle); C McCann (De La Salle), D Coady (Erins Own), E Daly (Erins Own); M Mahony (Ballygunner), T Douglas (De La Salle), H Ruddle (Ballygunner).
M Costigan (De La Salle) for McCann (26); B O’Sullivan (Ballygunner) for Daly (37); D Walsh (Piltown) for Coppinger (55); C Quinn (Dunhill) for Coady (60).
R Walsh (St Colmans); E Leahy (Aghada), C Hegarty (Fr O’Neills), M Mellerick (Fr O’Neills); D Harrington (Fr O’Neills), S O’Connor (Fr O’Neills), S Smith (Midleton); B McCarthy (Carrigtwohill), C Ruddy (St Colmans); L O’Shea (Lisgoold), K Moynihan (St Colmans), J McDonnell (Aghada); J Looney (Aghada), J Beausang (St Colmans), L Gosnell (Carrigtwohill).
P O’Brien (Midleton) for O’Shea (46); G Manley (Midleton) for Moynihan (51); C Terry (Aghada) for Beausang (54).
F Horgan (Tipperary)