Thursday 23 March 2017

O’Hanrahan heaps misery on Ardscoil

St Kieran's 2-10
Ardscoil Ris 1-11
All-ireland Colleges SH 'A' Final

Team captain William Phelan (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after St Kieran’s victory in Saturday’s All-Ireland Colleges SHC final. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile
Team captain William Phelan (centre) celebrates with his team-mates after St Kieran’s victory in Saturday’s All-Ireland Colleges SHC final. Photo: Matt Browne / Sportsfile

Thomas O’Hanrahan’s injurytime goal secured an 18th Croke Cup success for fabled St Kieran’s at Semple Stadium on Saturday as Limerick’s Ardscoil Rís suffered final heartbreak for the second successive year.

In the 2010 decider between the two sides, St Kieran’s overturned a five-point deficit in the home stretch to win by three, but the manner of this latest defeat was even more difficult to swallow for a devastated Ardscoil Rís.

As the clock ticked into stoppage time, the Harty Cup holders led by two points, 1-11 to 1-9, but they were undone by O’Hanrahan’s goal with 61½ minutes played.

In a desperate attempt to get the ball quickly back up the pitch, a short puck-out fell to St Kieran’s sub Richie Reid and he fired the Kilkenny kingpins two points clear.

There was time for Ardscoil to launch one late attack, but Jamie Shanahan’s goalbound shot was blocked away in a melee following Shane Dowling’s short 20-metre free. Ardscoil selector Derek Larkin reflected: “What’s there to say? It’s devastating – gut-wrenching – to lose it in that manner.”

Ardscoil appeared to have the hard work done, coming from four points down in the second half to lead by two in the closing minutes of a game which never hit the heights of last year’s decider.

Trailing by 0-4 to 1-4 at half-time, as O’Hanrahan’s first goal in the 27th minute separated the sides, Ardscoil were back on terms just 12 seconds after the restart when Oisin Hickey netted from close range.

But Kieran’s, inspired by Richie Power’s younger brother and 2010 All- Ireland minor medallist, John, hit back to assume control before Ardscoil regained the initiative in a see-saw encounter played out in front of 2,535 spectators.

Larkin added: “There were a few scoreable chances and we didn’t take them. That was a massive opportunity for us to win an All-Ireland.”

There was sympathy too from a humble St Kieran’s selector Philip Walsh. He said: “It’s complete heartbreak. I shook hands with a few of them and they’re crestfallen. It’s hard – it’s terrible cruel, but that’s sport.

“Kieran’s are legendary for pulling back a lead like that. I’ve seen it down the years. I’ve been in the school since 1991. I’ve seen a couple of matches where we might have lost it at the end, but we’ve always been in there fighting. It’s a trademark of Kieran’s – character. We always fight until the final whistle.

“If we win, we win, but if we lose, we take it and move on.” Ace marksman O’Hanrahan had also netted 2-2 from play in the semifinal victory against Charleville, but his contribution last Saturday will never be forgotten as Kieran’s retained the All-Ireland colleges title.

Walsh smiled: “He’s some man. A real poacher and he’s bold – he knows where the goal is and he’s not afraid to go for it. But you can’t single out one fella – the whole team was absolutely brilliant.”

SCORERS – St Kieran’s: T O’Hanrahan 2-2, J Power 0-4 (1f), M Brennan 0-2, W Phelan (f) & R Reid 0-1 each. Ardscoil Ris: S Dowling 0-6 (5f, 1 ’65), O Hickey 1-1, A Dempsey, D Hannon (f), M Carmody, J Fitzgibbon 0-1 each.

ST KIERAN’S – S Johnston; L Hickey, W Phelan, E Morrissey; C O’Neill, P O’Carroll, J McGrath; P Butler, C O’Shea; J Power, C Buckley, D Cody; J Nolan, M Brennan, T O’Hanrahan. Sub: R Reid for Nolan (51).

ARDSCOIL RÍS – PJ Hall; K Lynch, B O’Connell, D Moloney; A Dempsey, D Hannon, M Moroney; M Ryan, J Shanahan; M Carmody, S Dowling, B O’Connor; K O’Brien, O Hickey, J Fitzgibbon.

Subs: C Keogh for O’Connor (inj, 41), J Kelleher for O’Brien (51), C Lynch for Hickey (60).

REF – D Kirwan (Cork).

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