Extra-time heartache for brave ’Comer

Coláiste Eoin 2-10

Coláiste Eoin 2-10

Castlecomer CS 1-12

(aet)

TWO evenly matched sides went to extra-time before Castlecomer Community School suffered the heartbreak of a one point defeat in an exciting Leinster colleges senior Division A hurling quarter-final at a wet and cold Carlow Hurling Club grounds on Saturday.

While the outcome could easily have gone in favour of the North Kilkenny side, in truth their lack of a sufficient cutting edge in attack was the fault line which cost them victory.

The losers had plenty of scoring chances throughout a hard-fought 80 minutes of play but the fact that none of the starting half forward line raised a flag, and that team captain Charles O’Dwyer scored 0-9 - 0-8 from placed balls – indicates how reliant the ’Comer side was on their skipper for scores.

Only four Castlecomer players made the scoresheet and, overall, too many good scoring chances went abegging - profligacy that would prove costly in the long run. Even allowing for the unsuitable hurling conditions, one would have expected greater accuracy at this level.

Outstanding

Coláiste Eoin, who harbour ambitions of a Leinster ‘A’ football and hurling double, matched the Kilkenny side in all aspects of play. They had the game’s outstanding player in right half forward Colm O’Croínín. Besides bagging 2-1, the sturdy No. 10 got through a mountain of hard graft. He led by example.

There was nothing to choose between the sides in the opening half, after which Castlecomer led by 0-6 to 0-4. The clearest goal chance fell to the Dublin side on 27 minutes, only for impressive ’Comer left full back Philip Cass to save on the line to prevent a certain green flag.

Castlecomer were solid in defence in that half, with all four points from Coláiste Eoin coming from impressive left full-forward Óisin O’Ruairc, three by way of frees. Both sides were guilty of faulty finish with ’Comer being the biggest offenders in this regard.

While that was so, full credit must go the vigilance of both sets of backs in keeping the scores to such a low level in that dour opening 30 minutes.

Six minutes into the second half the ’Comer defence was breached as O’Cróinín went on a mazy run in which he left a number of opponents floundering before finishing off the move by kicking the sliotar to the net (1-5 to 0-6).

No fluency

In a game where there was far too much play resembling a rugby ruck, leading to a series of throw-ins by referee Pat Moran, the ’Comer attack never showed any fluency, depending almost exclusively on O’Dwyer’s accuracy from frees to keep them afloat. They continued to struggle for scores and it took two late points from Charles O’Dwyer – one from a free, the other a 65 - to force extra-time.

The midfield exchanges were inconclusive, the ’Comer pairing of Andrew Carron and Padraigh (Podge) Delaney probably breaking even with opponents Cian O’Ceallacháin and Jack O’Faoláin, the latter being withdrawn early in the second half.

Midway through the opening half of extra-time O’Cróinín dropped a 40 metre free from near the right sideline under the ’Comer crossbar for a goal whichs saw Coláiste Eoin lead by 2-9 to 0-12. When O’Ruairc tacked on a neat point from play the lead was four points, the biggest advantage enjoyed by either team.

It was pretty desperate straits now for the Kilkenny side. They applied strong second half pressure but a well-struck goal from substitute Rian Holden was their only reward. In the final attack the ball came off the woodwork and stayed out as ’Comer sought a leveller that would have brought about a replay.

But, overall, it was hard to deny the all-Irish school from Stillorgan their win.

Dean Shortall, Philip Cass, Robert Moran, Séan McDermott, Luke Maher and Charles O’Dwyer were best for Castlecomer, who were left bitterly disappointed and dismayed at full time.

Scorers: Colaiste Eoin: C. O’Cróinin (2-1, 1-0 free, 0-1 65); O. O’Ruairc (0-6, 0-3 frees, 0-1 65); C. O’Conbhui (0-2, 0-1 65); F. Motherway (0-1). Castlecomer CS: C. O’Dwyer (0-9, eight frees); R. Holden (1-0); C. Brennan (0-2); A. Carron (0-1).

Colaiste Eoin - Cian MacGabhann; Cillian O’Seanán, Riobeard O’Murchú, Killian O’Ferghail; Jamie Cliúntún, Emmet O’Cochartaigh, Fionn O’Riain Broin; Cian O’ Ceallacháin, Jack O’ Faoláin; Colm O’Cróinín, Caolán O’Conbhuí, Conal O’Neill; Oisín O’Ruairc, Donal O’Catháin, Fionnán Motherway. Subs: Donal O’Gormlaigh for O’Faoláin (42); Mathias MacDonnacha for Gormley (60); Seamus O’Dúill for O’Cathain (76).

Castlecomer CS - David Breen (St Martin’s); Ciarán Wallace (Erin’s Own), Dean Shortall (Cloneen), Philip Cass (Conahy Shamrocks); Seán McDermott (Erin’s Own), Robert Moran (Erin’s Own), Shane Rice (Erin’s Own); Andrew Carron (Erin’s Own), Padraig Delaney (Cloneen); Luke Maher (St Martin’s), Gary Dunne (Conahy Shamrocks), Eoin Brennan (Erin’s Own); Ciarán Brennan (Erin’s Own), Charles O’Dwyer (Ballinakill), Eoin Bergin (St Patrick’s, Ballyragget). Subs: Conor Delaney (Erin’s Own) for Rice (35); Rian Holden (Erin’s Own) for P Delaney (65).

Referee - Pat Moran (Laois).