St Brendan's College Killarney staged a dramatic second-half comeback with this last-ditch Corn Uí Mhuirí quarter-final win over St Flannan's in Ballyagran.
It was a close call for many observers' favourites to win the competition outright but they will have to improve if they are to beat the winners of the St Francis College Rochestown v Clonakilty CC game, being played on Thursday.
The Clare side started the game in whirlwind fashion when Killian O’Connor pounced on a breaking ball on the edge of the square to score the only goal of the game in the opening minute of play.
Flannan's had the use of a strong wind to their backs in the opening half and they opened up a 1-8 to 0-4, seven-point lead at the interval.
Brendan's struggled to win possession in midfield in the first 20 minutes and they were made to pay for this by a totally dominant Clare side. Mark McInerney, Diarmuid Cahill, and Killian O’Connor all contributed fine points from play in the opening period.
Points from Dylan Callaghan, Harry Buckley, Emmet O’Shea, and Ryan O’Grady kept the Killarney students in touch at the interval.
The introduction of Jason Kerins and Terry Sparling just before the interval helped to sway the middle third battleground the way of the Kerry college.
The Sem really hit the ground running in the second half reeling off seven points on the trot to level things up with 10 minutes to play.
Brendan's suffered the blow of losing their captain Michael Lenihan to injury in the build up to the game but in his absence players like Ryan O’Grady, Rúairí Doyle, Mark Cooper, and Eoghan O’Sullivan stepped up to the plate.
O’Grady was clearly the best player on the pitch and he finished the game with a personal tally of 0-6, three of which came from play.
Flannan's made the Kerry students work all the way to the final whistle to secure this win. Having surrendered their lead, they went one point back in front with a Mark McInerney pointed free in the 55th minute which was their first point of the second half.
Ryan O’Grady replied with a point from a free to level things once more. O’Grady was on hand again to give St Brendan's the lead for the first time in the contest with a coolly-taken point in the 60th minute. O’Grady then added another point from a free to increase the lead to two.
Flannan's, to their credit, continued to pour forward but a late Mark McInerney pointed free was all that they could muster.
Not for the first time, the Killarney students eked out a victory when all appeared lost and they will no doubt improve considerably having come through a tough battle like this.
Scorers: St Brendan’s College: R O’Grady (0-6, 3 frees), E O’Shea (2 frees) and H Buckley (0-2 each), E O’Sullivan, P Looney, W Shine and D Callaghan (0-1 each)
St Flannan's Ennis: McInerney (0-5,3 frees), K O’Connor (1-1), D Nagle (2 frees) and D Cahill (0-2 each)
St Brendan's College : E Moynihan; R Doyle, M Cooper, N O’Shea; T Holohan, E Looney, C O’Leary; E O’Sullivan, P Looney ; T Doyle, R O’Grady , H Buckley; W Shine , D Callaghan, E O’Shea
Subs: J Kerins for C O’Leary (26), T Sparling for Holohan (28, P O’Leary for Buckley (60)
St Flannan's Ennis: N O’Donoghue; D Cunningham, G D’Auria, G Hanrahan; C Reidy, M Reidy, J Collins; O O’Donnell, Niall Walsh; D Nagle D Cahill, C Hegarty; K O’Connor , C Galvin, M McInerney.
Subs: C Kearney for N Walsh (59)
Referee: T Loughnane (Tipperary)