abbey Community School (Ferrybank) promised a lot during a determined opening half, but they failed to deliver afterwards and St Fergal’s (Rathdowney) were good value in the end for what was their sixth win in the Leinster vocational schools junior hurling final in Thomastown.
The losers got within a point of the opposition with four minutes remaining, and with the wind in their backs, the advantage lay with them. However, St Fergal’s charged up the field, and a cross by Stephen Phelan from the left wing at the country end was claimed by sub Michael Purcell, who buried the ball in the top right corner of the net to decide the issue.
The winners qualified for an All-Ireland semi-final against the Connacht champions on Saturday week.
While they opened against the breeze, Abbey looked reasonably capable when keeping step with the opposition for most of the opening half. The power in their hurling came mainly from centre-back, M.J. Sutton, who was a storming influence, while Donnacha Griffin and Eoin Kenny, a great ball carrier, were also hugely influential figures.
The half-way mark was reached with St Fergal’s 0-8 to 0-5 in front. Goal chances were at a premium, but Abbey ’keeper, Jono Brown had one blinding moment in the 26th minute when he brought off a superb diving save from a blast by Mark Kavanagh, which had goal written all over it.
The losers had the opening score of the new half, a point from a free by Eoin Kenny, to suggest the promise of their opening half play was about to be delivered up. However, St Fergal’s, with wing-forward Aidan Corby taking the game by the scruff of the neck, powered on an maintained their slight edge on things.
They edged 0-12 to 0-8 in front with 10 minutes remaining when Abbey at last began to get their best game together. They were awarded a penalty in the 51st minute when Michael Cooke was dragged to the ground, but Eoin Kenny’s shot sailed over the bar.
While they might have done better in that instant, Abbey, were, nonetheless, energised and they charged back into the game. The next two scores fell to them through Kenny and M.J. Sutton, a mighty score from 70 metres, but they got caught for Purcell’s goal and that was it.
Scorers: St Fergal’s - Mark Kavangah (0-5, three frees); Aidan Corby (0-4, frees); Michael Purcell (1-0); Colin Fitzpatrick (0-2); Stephen Phelan (0-1). Abbey CC - Eoin Kenny (0-9, eight frees); Maurice Costello (0-1); M.J. Sutton (0-1, free).
St Fergal’s - D. Brennan, R. Phelan, C. Stapleton, C. Quinlan, C. Kilbane, L. O’Connell, J. Kelly, S. Bergin, E. Fitzpatrick, A. Corby, C. Fitzpatrick, L. cleere, M. Kavanagh, P. Phelan, S. Phelan. Sub - M. Purcell for P. Phelan.
Abbey CC - J. Brown, D. Irish (Slieverue), S. Harney (Kilmacow), D. Griffin (Slieverue), L. O’Donovasn (Slieverue), M.J. Sutton, R. O’Hanlon (Kilmacow), D. O’Dwyer (Kilmacow), M. Costello (Kilmacow), R. Carew, E. Kenny (Slieverue), J. Lawless, J. Ahearn, M. Cooke (Kilmacow), E. McKenna (Kilmacow). Sub - J. O’Brien (Slieverue) for Lawless.
Referee - P. Kehoe (Carlow).