Dr Harty Cup Quarter-Final
Thurles CBS 0-11 Rochestown College 1-13
Thurles CBS went crashing out of the Harty Cup last Wednesday as the seven-time competition winners found themselves on the receiving end of a five-point defeat against surprise packets St Francis College, Rochestown.
The Cork city boys, enjoying their debut season in the prestigious post-primary schools competition, have reached the semi-finals at the first time of asking.
They will meet Scoil Na Trionoide Naofa, Doon, in the last four but for Thurles, the dream is over for another year.
Thurles simply could not cope with the devastating attacking prowess of Rochestown full-forward Mark Dolan, who scored 1-6 of his side’s total.
Dolan, a grandson of former Cork GAA chairman Mick, may be short in stature but he is blessed with a wonderful first touch and the vision to bring teammates into play.
Dolan made light of the tricky underfoot conditions to light up Cahir on a quite pleasant afternoon when, thankfully, the rain stayed away.
Rochestown’s march to the semi-finals is a major boost to the wider Cork hurling community but after fielding representatives in the last two Harty deciders, Tipperary is without a team in this year’s semi-finals.
Despite missing prolific forward Mark O’Connor, following hip surgery, Rochestown still had too much firepower, know-how and physical presence for Thurles.
Dolan’s poacher’s goal would prove decisive but Rochestown were also well served by centre back Niall Cashman, son of Cork great Jim, and Shane Kingston, one of Cork selector Kieran Kingston’s two sons on the team.
Kingston picked off three fine long-range points, including two classy scores in the first half, with Aaron Ward also contributing well with two points from midfield.
A slight breeze favoured Rochestown in the first half and the sides were level at 0-2 apiece before Cashman’s long ball evaded the Thurles cover, allowing Dolan to nip in and finish smartly from close range in the eleventh minute.
That score was a real sucker punch to Thurles, who had come from two points down to level proceedings in the opening exchanges.
Mikey Connors, one of the better performers for Thurles on the day, fired over their opening point before Jamie Woods slotted over a free.
But Thurles would only manage seven points from play during the entire game and that was never going to be enough as Rochestown collected 1-8 from play.
Thurles suffered, too, with some poor shooting as seven first half wides racked up, followed by four after half-time.
At half-time, Rochestown were 1-7 to 0-5 clear but Thurles opened the second half with three unanswered points, including two from play fired over by Connors, to cut the deficit back to two.
Ciaran Cormack responded with a Rochestown point in the 41st minute, their opening score of the second half, before Thurles hit back again through wing-forward Ronan Heffernan.
Points from Dolan (free) and Ward pushed Rochestown 1-10 to 0-9 in front and while Cormack could have put the result beyond any doubt eight minutes from time, Thurles corner back Enda Heffernan pulled off a diving block.
Twice down the home straight, Thurles reduced the gap to three points but they could never fashion a genuine goal chance and brilliant late points from Dolan and Kingston sealed a landmark win.
Heffernan, Brendan Larkin and Chris McCullagh enjoyed solid outings for Thurles CBS and while Mikey Connors picked off three points from play, there was a general lack of firepower, aggression and ball winning ability in the Thurles attack.
Some of the ball going into the Thurles forwards was not ‘forward friendly’ either but Rochestown had players capable of out-muscling their opponents.
Thurles CBS: Gavin Ryan (Upperchurch-Drombane); Raymie Nally (Holycross-Ballycahill), Conor Ryan (Holycross-Ballycahill), Enda Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore); Brendan Larkin (Drom & Inch), Chris McCullagh (Moycarkey-Borris), Jack Skehan (Holycross-Ballycahill); Matthew Stakelum (Holycross-Ballycahill) (0-1), Ronan Heffernan (Clonoulty-Rossmore) (0-1); Niall Heffernan (Moycarkey-Borris), Tom Tierney (Thurles Sarsfields), Billy McCarthy (Thurles Sarsfields); Mikey Connors (Drom & Inch) (0-3), Liam Moloney (Holycross-Ballycahill, captain) (0-2, 1f), Jamie Woods (Holycross-Ballycahill) (0-3f). Subs: Robbie Long (Drom & Inch) (0-1) for N Heffernan (53), Ronan Teehan (Gortnahoe-Glengoole) for Woods (54), Eric Fanning (Moycarkey-Borris) for Tierney (56).
St Francis College, Rochestown: G Connolly; D O’Connor, J Cashman, D Kelleher; D Griffin, N Cashman, D Long; D Meaney, A Ward (0-2); C Cormack (0-1), C Kingston, S Kingston (0-3); P Lynch, M Dolan (1-6, 0-5f), C Sheehan. Sub: L O’Sullivan (0-1) for Sheehan (46).
Referee: T O’Sullivan (Waterford).