ST FLANNAN’S stayed alive in the Harty Cup by the skin of their teeth on Wednesday as their never-say- die attitude saw them dig out a draw against Ard Scoil Ris at the refixed venue of the LIT grounds. In truth, in what was a nervy final quarter, the Ennis school’s survival instincts and character alone to keep their heads up despite having to repeatedly fight for parity earned them their second bite at the tie. However, they were extremely fortunate as Niall Arthur’s free in the 63rd minute to level it up for the fifth time in 20 minutes could have gone the other way as the Inagh/Kilnamona player appeared to pick the ball off the ground and then in a last gasp attack to steal vic- tory, Ard Scoil Ris subtitute Brendan O’Connor made a great catch from Kevin Downes’ pass and looked to be wrestled to the ground as he turned for goal only for referee Wil- lie Barrett to allow play to continue and a relieved Flannan’s cleared the ball to the welcoming sound of the nUOT-U MAYA euKialoe
On the flip side, it was a disappoint- ing result for the Limerick school, who were never behind once St Flan- nan’s conceded an extremely soft goal in the 11th minute, scored by Cratloe’s Conor Ryan. Captain Ryan and fellow clubmate Cathal MclIner- ney were instrumental in building up Ard Scoil Ris’ first half lead along with Meelick’s Eanna Mulvihill and the stylish 16 year old Declan Han- non at centre-back. For Flannan’s, Niall Arthur’s unerring freetaking
was a major factor in their survival along with a solid defensive unit and midfield.
Indeed, St Flannan’s had made a positive start hitting three succes- sive wides before opening up a O-3 to Q-1 lead by the 9th minute, all from the stick of Arthur, who was equally impressive from frees as he was as a P-NEXoL BOUT TIS URC MN YCO)IM LOMO) mr DUMN Slo DE endevour were finding it difficult to penetrate the Flannan’s defence, only scoring from a Declan Hannon free from half-way in that period.
The goal though changed the pat- tern of the game, coming from a hopeful punt from halfway by cap- tain Ryan, whose effort caught goal- keeper Niall Woods wrongtooted and the ball slipped from his grasp into the net.
Bouyed by this, the Limerick side took up the ascendancy, although they didn’t score for twelve minutes due to some dogged defending by the Ennis side. First, a superb hook by wing-back Stephen O’Halloran denied a goalscoring opportunity for Kevin Downes who was baring down on goal and then an outstanding re- deeming save from Woods from a Pat McCarthy bullet kept Ard Scoil Ris from building up an command- ing lead.
However, a much more physically strong Ard Scoil Ris side did receive a further boost before half-time, af- ter Downes and Arthur had swapped points, when a Niall Kennedy ball in- side was broke and flicked to the net by centre-forward James O’Brien. Niall Arthur, St Flannan’s only first half scorer, did add another free in
injury time to leave the half-time OKs KO One
A retvitalised St Flannan’s side emerged for the second period and in fact, opened the scoring through mid- fielder Alan Leamy after only 35 sec- onds, only to see that score rebuffed by points from substitute Kevin Keane and Robert Henehan to open up a four point advantage. However, not content to lie down, St Flannan’s regrouped and found some success when driving at the Ard Scoil Ris’ defence with successive scores from Arthur, Leamy and Conor O’ Donnell by the 39th minute. James O’Brien did reply only a minute later but by now, the Ennis side could smell blood and two Arthur frees cancelled out the lead by the 43rd minute.
Still, they couldn’t seem to grab a leading score and on four more occa- sions, Ard Scoil Ris pushed slightly ahead only to be dragged back on each occasion. That the Limerick side didn’t cement victory was par- tially due to the amount of wides hit in the second half, a obvious sign of nerves in what was an exceedingly tense finish. Arthur, again was the rock for St Flannan’s hitting three of those equalising scores along with one from Clarecastle’s Aaron Consi- dine. There were some controversial moments towards the finish also with David O’Halloran seemingly taken down in front of goal for St Flan- nan’s while the Limerick side will feel aggrieved to have conceded the last free to Arthur as well as ‘the foul that never was’ on substitute Brendan O’Connor at the death.
All-in-all, a draw was probably the
fairest way to end it as neither side really deserved to lose such a capti- vating tie. In saying that, improving their firepower up front has to be a priority for St Flannan’s manager Jamesie O’Connor while Ard Scoil Ris’ inability to kill off the game certainly cost them a second semi-fi- nal place. Plenty of food for thought ahead of Wednesday’s crunch re-