Eoin Brennan watched as St Flannan’s College got their Corn Uí Mhuiri campaign back on track with a 4-10 to 2-14 defeat of Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore (Kerry)
SAINT Flannan’s College are back in contention for a place in the last eight of the prestigious Corn Uí Mhuiri after finally getting off the mark at the second attempt in Mick Neville Park, Rathkeale on Wednesday afternoon.
Agonisingly edged out by Tralee CBS in their opening bout four weeks previously, nothing but a victory was sufficient to stay alive in the competition and they duly responded by leading from start to finish to knock opponents Rathmore out.
Four goals in a 15 minute period through outstanding targetman Luca Cleary (2), Fionn Cotter and James Hegarty in the middle third of the contest helped St Flannan’s to ease ten clear by the turn of the final quarter.
It should have been enough to finish the tie as a contest but credit Rathmore for never dropping their heads at any stage as despite outscoring the leaders by 2-4 to 0-2 coming down the home stretch, an anxious St Flannan’s relievedly held out.
The conditions were difficult throughout with a swirling strong gale at least solaced by the fact that the tie was played on astroturf, thus leading to an open end-to-end contest.
Indeed, St Flannan’s couldn’t have asked for a more settling start as straight from the throw-in, Sean McMahon’s quick placed ball picked out the run of Luca Cleary to flick past on rushing goalkeeper Matthew Kennedy after only 13 seconds.
They wouldn’t score again until late in the opening quarter though, by which time Rathmore’s ace marksman Ciaran Collins had arrowed over a brace of points while also seeing a goalbound effort superbly scrambled off the line by Fionan Treacy at 1-0 to 0-2.
Impressive duo Darren Keane and Sean McMahon subsequently traded points with Collins amidst a good save for St Flannan’s goalkeeper Cian Howard.
That seesaw narrative was irrevocably altered in the 23rd minute when Luca Cleary turned provider for Fionn Cotter to toe-poke to the net from close range.
In the next passage of play Gearoid Barry and Darren Keane combined to tee up the overlapping James Hegarty to blast to the top right corner at 3-2 to 0-4.
Indeed, St Flannan’s might have even grabbed a fourth goal only two minutes later when a foul on Paddy Nagle earned a penalty for Darren Keane that would be saved by goalkeeper Matthew Kennedy.
Buoyed by that stop, Rathmore rallied with the last four points of the half as braces for Ciaran Collins and David O’Leary slashed the interval deficit to just a goal at 3-2 to 0-8.
The Kerry side maintained that newfound momentum on the restart but while they did lower the arrears to just two, a fourth St Flannan’s goal in the 36th minute through Cleary following good work from Darren Keane swung the pendulum firmly back on the Clare side who added the next five points to soar 4-8 to 0-10 clear by the three-quarter mark.
Game over now surely? Not quite as while St Flannan’s were still comfortably nine clear entering the final ten minutes, a David O’Leary goal did make them shift a little more nervously for the remainder.
Impact substitute Fiachra Kirby ended St Flannan’s 11 minute barren patch with a welcome pair of points but with the bit between their teeth, a last minute Gavin Barry goal for Rathmore certainly made injury-time far more tense that it needed to be.
Victory does mean that St Flannan’s are back in the hunt for a quarter-final place ahead of their final group outing against Clonakilty Community College on Wednesday week. However, while another victory is essential, the group’s two last eight spots will still hinge on Clonakilty’s showdown with Tralee CBS the following Monday.
St Flannan’s College: Cian Howard (Éire Óg); Ronan Kilroy (Banner), Cormac Maher (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Gearoid Barry (Inagh-Kilnamona); Paddy Nagle (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield), Fionan Treacy (Éire Óg), Francis Meaney (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield); Fred Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona), James Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona); Fionn Cotter (Lissycasey), Sean McMahon (Banner), Cian Kirby (Clondegad); Colm Meaney (Clondegad), Luca Cleary (Éire Óg), Darren Keane (Lissycasey). Subs: Ian Williams (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for Maher (21), Fiachra Kirby (Clondegad) for Meaney (HT), Ben McDonough (St Joseph’s Doora/Barefield) for F. Hegarty (46), Luke Aherne (Clarecastle) for Cotter (52), Harry Doherty (Clarecastle) for Cleary (60).
Scorers: Luca Cleary (2-2); Fiachra Kirby (0-3); Fionn Cotter, James Hegarty (1-0 each); Darren Keane (0-2); Sean McMahon (f), Cian Kirby, Fred Hegarty (0-1 each)
Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore: Matthew Kennedy (Rathmore); Stephen Dalton (Gneeveguilla), Cian O’Connor (Rathmore), Gavin Barry (Gneeveguilla); Jack Buckley (Rathmore), Padraig Moynihan (Rathmore), David McCarthy (Rathmore); Fionn Murphy (Rathmore), Sean Finnegan (Gneeveguilla); Shane Daly (Rathmore), Darragh Nagle (Rathmore), Conor Moynihan (Rathmore); David O’Leary (Gneeveguilla), Ciaran Collins (Rathmore), James Doyle (Gneeveguilla). Sub: Ross Moriarty (Rathmore) for McCarthy (13, inj)
Scorers: Ciaran Collins (0-9, 5f); David O’Leary (1-2, 1m), Gavin Barry (1-0); Sean Finnegan (0-2); Fionn Murphy (0-1f)
Referee: John O’Halloran (Limerick)