Having breezed through the group stages boasting an average winning margin of 14 points, the Killarney students then dethroned back-to-back Hogan Cup champions Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne by 13 points in last month’s quarter-final. And then came this result in Rathkeale against St Flannan’s on Saturday.
It means they’ll start as raging hot favourites against High School Clonmel on February 27, but manager McGrath is confident feet will be kept firmly on the ground.
“These are a good bunch of lads. They were hurting last year after being beaten by Rochestown in the semi-final. The younger fellas, they were beaten in the All-Ireland U16 and a half final.
“We haven’t won much so that’ll keep the minds focused,” said McGrath. “
Opting to start with an extremely strong wind, the Sem were relentless in their assault on the St Flannan’s goal. Mikey Casey (0-2), Billy Courtney, Evan Cronin and excellent midfielder Lee O’Donoghue (0-2) carved out a six point advantage by the 13th minute before full-forward David Shaw fielded a long delivery from O’Donoghue before burying past sub goalkeeper Tom O’Brien on 15 minutes. O’Brien, one of three first-half substitutions made by the Ennis College, was introduced for Eoin Campbell on 11 minutes in bid to sort out their kick-out woes as St Flannan’s struggled to carry possession into the opposition half.
Darragh Duggan (free) kicked their opener after 26 minutes, (1-8 to 0-1) and it was game over in first-half stoppages as Mikey Casey netted goal number two, a score which manifested itself from a turnover at the other end of the field - 2-9 to 0-1 the interval difference. The second-half was a pretty mundane affair with St Brendan’s content to sit on their lead.
Lee O’Donoghue kicked a further three points to bring his tally to 0-6, David Shaw also swelling his personal tally with two white flags to add to his first-half goal.
L O’Donoghue (0-6, 0-4 frees); D Shaw, M Casey (1-2 each); N Donoghue, B Courtney, E Cronin, P McCarthy (0-1 each).
D Duggan (0-2 frees), C Lynch (0-2 each); E O’Connor (0-1).
D Carroll (Spa); M Potts (Dr Crokes), C O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), C Gammell (Legion); D Naughton (Dr Crokes), D O’Brien (Glenflesk), N Donoghue (Firies); L O’Donoghue (Glenflesk), B Courtney (Dr Crokes); D Moynihan (Spa), A O’Shea (Dr Crokes), P McCarthy (Legion); E Cronin (Spa), D Shaw (Dr Crokes), M Casey (Dr Crokes).
D Clifford (Fossa) for O’Shea (46 mins), D Spillane (Spa) for Donoghue (46), W Courtney (Firies) for McCarthy (46), C O’Shea (Firies) for Cronin (53), F Murphy (Legion) for O’Donoghue (55), C Courtney (Dr Crokes) for Naughton (58).
E Campbell (Doora Barefield); P Collins (Doora Barefield), D Crimmins (Clarecastle), M Gavin (Clondegad); R Hayes (Crusheen), E O’Connor (Éire Óg Ennis), T Hannon (Doora Barefield); R Crimmins (Clarecastle), C Mullins (Crusheen); C Lynch (Clondegad), M Nugent (Doora Barefield), S Kennedy (Kilmayley); G Cooney (Éire Óg Ennis), R Jennings (Clondegad), D Duggan (Doora Barefield).
S Collins (Banner) for Hayes (8 mins, inj), T O’Brien (Doora Barefield) for Campbell (11), I Molloy (Banner) for Mullins (19), M Crowe (Clondegad) for R Crimmins (38), G Cahill (Corofin) for Collins (42).
R Moloney (Limerick).