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St Joseph's Tulla celebrate their win over De La Salle (Waterford) in the Dr Harty Cup Semi-Final in Mallow. Photograph by John Kelly.

HURLING: Raw power prevails as St Joseph’s reach Harty Cup Final

Dr Harty Cup semi-final
St Josephs Tulla 0-20
De La Salle 1-13

A defiant defensive display by an inspired St Joseph’s Tulla allied to unerring free-taking up front secured the East Clare school their first ever Harty Cup final appearance the weekend after next against Ardscoil Rís, reports Michael O’Connor.

De La Salle, who came up short in this tie, had defeated their opponents in the opening round tie by a brace of scores. The performance of Paddy Fitzgerald in that tie had impressed and he was once again to the fore for the Waterford side. However, on this occasion, and in a game dominated by free-taking, the importance of late late scores from play by St Joseph’s proved vital.

A mature Tulla side with a number of players available from the 2020 Harty Cup quarter final against St Flannans had targeted at least a place in the knock-out stages and have now gone to the final day out and a date with destiny.

After three minutes it appeared that De La Salle were final bound as they led by 1-1. Paddy Fitzgerald opened the scoring from a free and Jack Twomey broke free after getting a pass from Alan Keane to finish to the net.

St Joseph’s needed to settle fast and did so with a brace of Sean Withycombe frees by the fifth minute. The tie was long touted as a shoot-out between the two number 11s and indeed both did their utmost with Withycombe emerging with more converted percentage-wise over the hour.

Fitzgerald, who was marked by Adam Hogan, added a second point with six minutes elapsed. This was as good as it was for the Waterford school as St Joseph’s Tulla began to exert control. Withycombe, following great work by Oisin O’Connor, pointed from play. Fionn Hickey sent over a stunning effort and this was matched by Colm Cleary after nine minutes. Withycombe, with three in five minutes, left Terence Fahy’s charges ahead by three at the culmination of the first quarter.

The second quarter was a repeat of the opening with a resolute Tulla defence led by Adam Hogan, Tony Leyden and Oisin Clune repelling all-comers. Paddy Fitzgerald (3) and Withycombe on target left St Joseph’s ahead by the minimum, 0-9 to 1-5 after 22 minutes.

Conor Tobin replaced Darragh Nolan for De La Salle as Jack Twomey and Fitzgerald edged their colleagues clear by a point. A superb effort by Ronan O’Connor was matched by Fitzgerald before the final scores of the first-half were reserved for Cormac Cantwell and Withycombe as St Joseph’s went in one point in arrears, 1-9 to 0-11. The efforts of Tulla appeared to have them in strong contention, but without a series of point scorers from play, their real potential was being stunted.

The third quarter was played within the two 65s as a struggle for supremacy was waged. Five points was all that was recorded with Paddy Fitzgerald outscoring Sean Withycombe (3-2). Notable was the surreal defend at all costs by the St Joseph’s rearguard that ultimately won the tie as De La Salle led 1-12 to 0-13, but far from comfortable leaders

The last quarter performance that has served the Clare school well all year came to the fore as Withycombe and a powerful effort by Oisin Clune levelled the game after 49 minutes. The lead score by Fionn Hickey was welcomed by a roar form the travelling fans. Withycombe and Paddy Fitzgerald swapped scores as the one point lead was maintained. The final minutes will be long remembered as St Joseph’s drove at De La Salle and three frees from Withycombe secured a famous win. In 1981, St Joseph’s won the All-Ireland B final and now a lot of the same clubs are powering what may yet their greatest day.

St Josephs Tulla: Aaron Shanahan (Tulla), Fionn Ryan (Tulla), Tony Leyden (Tulla), Dara Ryan (Tulla), Mike McMahon (O’C Mills), Adam Hogan (Feakle), Oisin Clune (Feakle) (0-1), Darragh Keogh (Clooney/Quin), Ronan O’Connor (Feakle) (0-1), Oisin O’Connor (Feakle), Sean Withycombe (Tulla) (0-15), Fionn Hickey (O’C Mills) (0-2), Eoghan McMahon (Crusheen), Conor O’Donnell (Broadford), Colm Cleary (O’C Mills) (0-1). Subs: Evan Maxted (Clooney/Quin) for O’Donnell

De La Salle: Cian Troy, Conor Keane, Craig O’Keeffe, Kieran O’Sullivan, Aaron O’Neill, Paraic Murphy, Rory Dobbyn, Cormac Cantwell (0-1), Kealan Furlong, Sam Pender, Paddy Fitzgerald (0-11), James Alyward, Jack Twomey (1-1), Alex Keane, Darragh Nolan. Subs: Conor Tobin for Nolan, Oran Hartney for Keane, Luke Horgan for Pender, Eoin McSweeney for Tobin, Donnacha Williams for Keane.

Eamonn Stapleton (Limerick)

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