For the second game in a row, Cóláistí na nDéise (CnD) had to overcome the handicap of having a player sent off before the game started to carve out a marvellous victory over De La Salle (DLS) in the Harty Cup semi-final in Fraher Field today.
There was disarray before the beginning of the game when, first of all, referee Cathal McAllister took ages to get a sliotar to start the game and then had his attention drawn by the umpires at the town goal. Following consultation, McAllister showed the CnD full forward Kevin Daly a straight red card, followed by a yellow for DLS full back Paul Coughlan, which was to prove significant.
The rain which had been falling since early morning continued throughout the game, and in the circumstances the skill showed by both sides was commendable. There was also a stiff breeze blowing towards the town goal and CnD were definitely fortunate to have its assistance in the first half, as it would have been a big ask if they had to chase a substantial lead in the second half in these conditions.
As in their previous game, CnD (made up of the Augustinian and Christian Brothers schools in Dungarvan) made light of their numerical disadvantage by getting stuck in from the off, working their socks off, and displaying a super first touch throughout the field. Their defenders were adept at stopping their opponents from getting possession and were impressively physical against what was a bigger DLS team.
CND got the tonic of an early goal when Cathal Curran’s free was knocked down in the goalmouth for corner forward Michael Kiely to finish to the net. Once they got their eye in, the CND forwards – especially Cathal Curran – began to build up their points tally and they got a real boost halfway through the half when centre forward Michael Harney struck a marvellous goal from all of thirty yards.
At the other end DLS found it impossible to get on the scoreboard despite having plenty of chances. Their shooting for points into the wind went all awry and they also spurned a couple of clear goal chances. They finally got a shot on goal just before the interval but CnD goalie Eoin Kearns made a great save. Overall DLS hit eight first half wides to CnD’s four.
CnD’s cause got a further boost just before half time when the DLS full back Paul Coughlan got a second yellow card for a hurley throw which at least had the intended effect of putting off a CnD forward who had got through for a shot on goal. Cathal Curran knocked over the resultant free to send CnD in at half time leading 2-9 to no score.
DLS needed a good start to the second half but it was CnD who stretched their lead with another excellent Curran effort. DLS then gradually took over as CnD tired and began to control midfield. The points finally started to flow but the excellent CnD defence yielded few openings for the goal DLS desperately needed. DLS lacked leadership with no one prepared to run at the CnD defence whereas, playing against the wind, CnD repeatedly carried the ball out of defence and generally used it well, playing to the wings for the speedy Curran brothers to run on to.
DLS did get a bit of a lifeline when Austin Gleeson’s shot from a forty-yard free found the net off Eoin Kearns’s hurley with 15 minutes to go. However, they were unable to follow up and were it not for some over-elaboration on the part of the CnD forwards and a couple of missed frees from Cathal Curran, CnD would have won even more convincingly than the final scoreline of Coláistí na Déise 2-14 De La Salle 1-8 (CnD’s last point wasn’t registered on the score board).
Leading the way for a CnD team which played well throughout the field was Cathal Curran, five of whose seven points came from play. The unrelated Cormac Curran, a late call-up in midfield, also had a mighty game, including three points from play. Right half back Tadhg Burke and centre back Tom Devine were also to the fore. Austin Gleeson was DLS’s main man. Their starting fifteen only scored one point from play. They got four second half points via substitutes, with Adam Farrell (I think) getting two or three of them.
A feature of the CnD team was the fact that only one of the players was from Abbeyside with four from Dungarvan (all of them forwards). The rest were from intermediate and junior rural clubs, and their skill levels are a great tribute to the work being done at juvenile level in the west of the county. On the basis of this display, and with Kieran Power expected to be back for the final, they must have a good chance of going all the way.
Coláistí na nDéise: Eoin Kearns (St Mary’s), Evan Collins (Abbeyside), Tom Tobin (St Mary’s), Seán O’Donovan (Modeligo), Tadhg Bourke (Clashmore), Tom Devine (St. Patrick’s), Kealan Looby (St Oliver’s), Colin Dunford (Colligan) (0-1), Cormac Curran (Brickey Rangers) (0-3), Cathal Curran (Dungarvan) (0-7, 0-2 frees), Michael Harney (Bonmahon) (1-0); Ryan Donnelly (Dungarvan), Patrick Curran (Dungarvan) (0-2), Kevin Daly (Dungarvan), Michael Kiely (St Mary’s) (1-1). Sub: John Gartland (Ardmore) for Michael Kiely (inj).
De La Salle: Mark Sheridan (Erin’s Own), Billy O’Keeffe (Ballygunner), Paul Coughlan (Ballygunner), Kevin Walsh (Piltown), Adam O’Sullivan (De La Salle), Austin Gleeson (Mount Sion) (1-3, all frees), Sam O’Neill (Erin’s Own), Chris Breheny (Butlerstown), Shane McNulty (De La Salle), Mark O’Brien (Ferrybank), Barry O’Sullivan (Ballygunner) (0-1), Tom Mullally (Ballygunner), Dessie Hutchinson (Ballygunner), Pat Flynn (De La Salle), Darragh Flynn (Erin’s Own). De La Salle brought on a number of substitutes (who scored four points between them) but apparently their numbers were not correct.