With momentum and tradition, St Flannan's now look a Harty Cup force again

A big win over Castletroy College confirms the Clare school's emergence again as a Harty Cup contender
With momentum and tradition, St Flannan's now look a Harty Cup force again

Fred Hegarty, St Flannan's, trying to control the sliotar against Castletroy in the TUS Harty Cup in Meelick

Harty Cup preliminary quarter-final: St Flannan’s College Ennis 3-20 Castletroy College Limerick 1-7 

Call it culture, confidence or tradition but the longer the Harty Cup goes on, the better and stronger St Flannan’s always believe they become. The real business of this competition will be completed in the New Year but the Ennis side are at least trading in the kind of currency again that always makes them a powerful player in that market.

Not having got out of the group in the previous two seasons, that doomsday scenario was a possibility again after losing their opening game to Ardscoil Rís. Yet Flannan’s have responded to that threat with a level of improvement, fortitude and resolve that has given them serious traction and momentum.

There was devil in the detail of their previous campaigns, with Flannan’s having lost their four games by an aggregate of just 0-6, but the only bottom line for the Ennis side in the Harty Cup is success, or perceived progress. They edged out De La Salle in Round 2 by a single point and, while their last two victories may have come against sides that wouldn’t have been seen as a force in the competition, successive wins by an aggregate margin of 41 points underlines how well the machine is ramping up again.

It took it a while to get going in Meelick. Behind by one point midway through the first half, Flannan’s responded with an unanswered 1-3 to completely alter the tone and complexion of the match. Having played against the breeze in the first half, Flannan’s were completely ruthless and efficient after the break with a 71% conversion from 21 shots. At the other end, Castletroy were restricted to just five shots in that half.

The comparative efficiency levels neatly encapsulated the difference between the sides. Castletroy had more shots than their opponents in the first half (16-14) but they collapsed the platform they desperately needed through mass profligacy, converting just five of those chances.

Flannan’s led by 1-7 to 0-5 at the break, with the goal coming from Ronan Kilroy, but the Ennis side had consistently carried a more menacing look up front, especially a goal threat, throughout that half. Flannan’s were devastating in the third quarter, landing 0-7 from eight shots before the excellent Michael Power came off the bench to land 2-1.

The game was long over as a contest by then but Castletroy had made a real game of it for most of the first half. Flannan’s were just able to necklace their passing game better around the middle to create more clearcut openings while they physically dominated that sector of the pitch after the break.

Ten of the extended Clare minor panel which won the All-Ireland back in June featured here. With the squad being presented with their Munster and All-Ireland medals on Friday night, this was a good start to the week for that cohort. For Flannan’s though, they’ll feel that this is a potential new beginning. Qualifying for the quarter-finals was the only bottom line at the outset of the season. But now that they’re there, Flannan’s will feel they can profit in the market in which they’re most comfortable.

Scorers for St Flannan’s: M Power (2-1), T Boddy (0-6, 5 frees), F Hegarty (0-4), R Kilroy (1-0), J Hegarty (0-3, 3fs), H Doherty (0-2), J Casey, L Cleary, R Loftus, J Mescall (0-1 each)

Scorers for Castletroy College: D Ferland (0-3, 3fs), M Field (1-0), R O’Farrell (0-2, 2fs) D Carr, C O’Mara (0-1 each) 

ST FLANNAN’S: C Howard (Éire Óg Ennis); C Griffin (Clarecastle), F Ó Braoin (Sixmilebridge), P Nagle (St Joseph's Doora-Barefield); F Meaney (St Joseph's Doora-Barefield, capt), J Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona), E Price (Clarecastle); J Casey (Kilmaley), I Williams (St Joseph's Doora-Barefield); J Mescall (Inagh-Kilnamona), F Hegarty (Inagh-Kilnamona), R Kilroy (The Banner); T Boddy (Bruff), L Cleary (Éire Óg Ennis), H Doherty (Clarecastle).

Subs: M O’Connor (St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield) for Griffin (37), M Power (Newmarket-on-Fergus) for Doherty (42), K McDonnell (Ballyea) for Casey (50), D Costelloe (Ballyea) for Clearty (50), R Loftus (Éire Óg Ennis) for Mescall (54).

CASTLETROY COLLEGE (Monaleen unless stated): R Widger; J Doyle, P Canny, M Southern; T McCarthy, C Scully, D Blackwell (Ahane); M Fitzgerald, R O’Farrell (Kildimo Pallaskenry); C O’Mara (Ahane), D Ferland, D Carr (Ahane); L Ryan, W McCormack (Ahane), M Field.

Subs: J Rennison (Ahane) for Ryan (ht), B Griffin for Carr (47), T Darcy for Blackwell (53).

Referee: T Loughnane (Tipperary).

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