After a titanic battle, St Brendan's College Killarney just edged out rivals Tralee CBS to top Group D of the Corn Uí Mhuirí at Connolly Park this afternoon.
It was the Sem’s sternest test to date and they just about survived a second-half onslaught by Tralee CBS who join the winners in the last eight of this year’s Corn Uí Mhuirí.
It was the Sem’s experience that saw them over the line with a strong finish after the Green led 2-11 to 1-12 with just ten minutes remaining. But as Tralee tired, five unanswered points from St Brendan's, two from free-taker Ryan O’Grady and one each from centre-back Terry Sparling, and substitutes Tom Doyle and Harry Buckley, saw the Sem take a two-point lead into added time.
There was one last kick from the Green but Fergal O’Brien opted to put the free over and when the Sem repelled the final two Green attacks with superb defending by Mark Cooper and Evan Looney, the Green just came up short as St Brendan's held on by a point to top the group and claim bragging rights for now.
St Brendan's led by the minimum at the interval, 0-9 to 1-5, thanks to two Ryan O’Grady frees, a '45 from keeper Eoin Moynihan (a nephew of the great Seamus), and points from play from Dylan O’Callaghan, superb full-back Mark Cooper, who did a great job on Tralee’s dangerman Sean Quilter, Eoghan O’Sullivan, the best midfielder on view, the lively William Shine, and Tom Doyle.
Cian Purcell finished a high centre from Fergal O’Brien to the Sem net just before half time while Joe Lenihan, Sean Quilter, and Darragh Reen got the pick of their first-half total.
It was in the third quarter that the Green made their move and looked as if they might cause an upset after Sean Quilter crashed the ball to the Killarney net as Cooper appeared to have picked up a knock.
With O’Brien’s placekicking, it meant Tralee CBS came from three behind to lead by two but they could not match the Sem’s strong finish.
Scorers: St Brendan's College: R O’Grady (1-3, 3 frees), W Shine (0-3), D O’Callaghan and E O’Shea (1f) (0-2 each), E Moynihan (’45), E O’Sullivan, M Cooper, J Kerins, T Doyle, T Sparling and H Buckley (0-1 each)
Tralee CBS: F O’Brien (0-5, 3 frees), S Quilter (1-2), C Purcell (1-1), C Hayes (0-2), J Lenihan, L Barrett and D Reen (0-1 each)
ST BRENDAN'S COLLEGE KILLARNEY : E Moynihan (Glenflesk); C O’Leary (Killarney Legion), M Cooper (Dr Crokes), N O’Shea (do); R Doyle (Fossa), T Sparling (Dr Crokes), E Looney (do); E O’Sullivan (Legion), M Lenihan (Dr Crokes); J Kerins (do), R O’Grady (Legion),P Looney (Dr Crokes); W Shine (Legion), D O’Callaghan (Firies), E O’Shea (Fossa).
Subs: T Doyle (Dr Crokes) for C O’Leary (47), H Buckley (Fossa) for P Looney (Dr Crokes).
TRALEE CBS: D Burns (Na Gaeil); R O’Sullivan (do), L Chester (Austin Stacks), L Barrett (Liscarroll, Cork); E Carroll (Austin Stacks), A Heinrich (do), P White (J Mitchels); C Horan (Austin Stacks), J Lenihan (Churchill): F O’Brien (St Pats, Blennerville), D Reen (Na Gaeil), J Kissane (Austin Stacks); C Purcell (Austin Stacks), S Quilter (do), C Hayes (Kerins O’Rahilly’s).
Subs: S Kennedy (Annascaul) for J Kissane (38), D Moriarty (Currow) for L Barrett (45), C Myers (Austin Stacks) for C Purcell (52) .
Referee: S Mulvihill (St Senans)