Dean Ryan Cup Under 16.5 A Hurling Quarter-Final
Thurles CBS 4-16 Midleton CBS 1-15
Report by Ed Donnelly
Holders Thurles CBS marched in to the semi-finals of the Dean Ryan Cup following a ten-point victory over Midleton CBS at a dry but windy Ardfinnan GAA grounds.
There was little to choose between the teams in the opening stages as space was at a premium early on. Stephen Ferncombe got Thurles off the mark with a point from play in the first minute before two quick points from Sean Walsh (1 free) put Midleton in front for the only time. Thurles played with wind assistance in the first half and following points from play by Edward Meagher and Jack Lillis, the first goal arrived in the 12th minute when Liam McCormack took advantage of uncertainty in the Midleton defence to strike the ball to the net. Midleton reacted immediately to this set-back and three points in as many minutes from Sean Walsh (2 from placed balls) left just one point between the teams at the end of the first quarter – 1-3 to 0-5.
Aside from the impressive Walsh, Midleton were struggling to gain possession up front and with the Thurles half-back line in particular getting on top, the second quarter saw Thurles dominate. After a Ferncombe free put Thurles two points up, Midleton goalkeeper Brion Saunderson produced a double save from Darragh Stakelum and Stephen Ferncombe in the 19th minute. Two minutes later however, Thurles would break through for their second goal. A Ferncombe ’65 dropped short as the Midleton defence failed to clear their lines and under serious pressure, David Fogarty managed to find the net with a one-handed strike. While Midleton’s initial response to the concession of the goal was positive as Sean Walsh replied with two points (one free), the overall dominance of Thurles eventually began to pay dividends on the scoreboard as they outscored their Cork opponents by 0-6 to 0-1 in the closing stages of the first half as Ferncombe (3), Lillis, Fogarty and Ryan Walsh found their range to leave Thurles in front by 2-10 to 0-8 at the interval.
The strength of the wind in Midleton’s favour in the second half dominated the interval discussion and a good start for the Cork school was essential to any successful comeback. Instead, it was Thurles who put the result beyond doubt in the opening stages of the second half. A Stephen Ferncombe rasper was saved by Midleton goalkeeper Brion Saunderson before Jack Leahy scored two points from play in a minute. In the 32nd minute, Liam McCormack scored his second goal to put Thurles in to a 13-point lead, 3-12 to 0-8.
Much of the intensity went out of the game at this stage and while Midleton were keeping the scoreboard ticking over with pointed frees, their lack of scoring power from open play and the absence of a goal threat meant that the closest which the Cork school came was within 10 points. With the game petering out to its inevitable conclusion, there were still time for a couple of goals. In the 56th minute, Edward Meagher set up substitute Sam Quinlan for a Thurles goal before a late consolation goal for Midleton rounded out the scoring leaving Thurles in front by 4-16 to 1-15.
Thurles CBS now await the winners of Nenagh CBS and Hamilton High School, scheduled to play on Wednesday at 12:30pm in Ballyhea, in the semi-final.
Thurles CBS: Jason O’Dwyer; Oisin Treacy, Darragh McCahey, Conor Horgan; Edward Connolly, Luke Shanahan, James Armstrong; Ryan Walsh (0-1), Edward Meagher (0-2); Stephen Ferncombe (0-8, 0-5 frees), Jack Leamy (0-2), Darragh Stakelum; Jack Lillis (0-2), David Fogarty (1-1), Liam McCormack (2-0)
Subs: James Griffin, Padraig Ryan, Robert Doyle, Sam Quinlan (1-0), Liam Hayes
Midleton CBS: Brion Saunderson; Ciarmhac Smyth, Jack Fitzgerald, Sam Walsh; Daire Sullivan, Alex Quirke (0-2 frees), George Walsh-Wallace; Justin Oke (0-1), Jamie Fogarty; Darragh McCarthy, Zak McAuliffe, Izaak Walsh (0-1); Andrew Kelly, James Ahern, Sean Walsh (0-11, 0-8 frees)