Scoil Aireagail (Ballyhale) showed a lot of talent, and even more promise, when sweeping past Col Naomh Cormac (Offaly) in this lively and always engaging Leinster Vocational Schools senior hurling quarter-final, winning by 1-9 to 1-5.
While the winners needed two late points to secure passage through to the semi-finals and a meeting with Borris VS, who beat them in an earlier round, they might have won by more had they taken all their chances. Their inside line of attack involving Kevin Farrell, Andy Fitzpatrick and Ronan Coffey showed some lovely touches and plenty of promise, but their finishing on the day was off and they produced just one score between them.
On a different day things could have been so, so different for them.
Col Naomh Cormac were hurt by injuries to three players, and their goalie and under-16 long puck champion, Cillian Kiely lined out with an injury. For the second half he moved to full-forward when the man there, Harley Dazell could do no more out the field because of a knee injury and he moved between the sticks.
There was an impressive energy about the winners play from the start, and they led all the way after Colin Phelan posted the first point in the early minutes. They put two more on the ’board through Ronan Corcoran before the opposition opened their account with a minor from Dillon Murray in the 15th minute.
Scoil Aireagail were unlucky not to grab a goal through Andy Fitzpatrick before that. Fitzpatrick did find the net, and in style too, in the 25th minute. He turned his man well by using his body smartly when awaiting the delivery of a clearance from wing-back, Paul Kirwan, before racing away and shooting to the net from 14 metres.
That score was the main difference between the teams at the break, when Scoil Aireagail led by 1-4 to 0-3.
The visitors to Ballyhale turned up the heat big time after the break when they grabbed an early goal. Dan Mahon lashed a ground shot to the net from 14 metres after a long free by Dylan Murray had been batted out by a defender.
The winners, who were backed by the wind, hit back for a point from a difficult free from Ronan Corcoran and Kevin Farrell has been pushed to the ground. A minute later Colm Phelan flashed a shot across the face of the goal, but the ball went wide.
Ronan Corcoran did well to steal possession off a defender before shooting his side 1-6 to 1-3 clear in the 38th minute, and for a while it looked as if the winners would sweep to a handsome win.
However, Col Naomh Cormac hung on. They brought the divide back to two points in the 55th minute after Dylan Murray was tumbled to the ground and he converted the free.
Scoil Aireagail has one big card to play. With four minutes remaining sub Eamon Power pointed with his first real chance of the match. The puck-out was taken from the sky by Michael Jones before he shot a terrific minor.
The big finish by the home side gave us a glimpse at the real promise that is within the team. To do what they did under pressure was a significant sign. There is more in everyone, including stars of this show Paul Kirwan, James Grace, Michael Jones, Ronan Corcoran and Brian Phelan.
Good for the losers were the huge striking Cillian Kiely, James Kilmartin, Shane Guinan and Dylan Murray.
Scorers: Scoil Aireagail - Ronan Corcoran (0-5, three frees); Andy Fitzpatrick (1-0); Paddy Delaney, Michael Jones, Colm Phelan, Eamon Power (0-1 each). Col Naomh Cormac - Dylan Murray (0-4, frees); Dan Mahon (1-0); Cillian Kiely (0-1).
Scoil Aireagail - Aaron Roche (Carrickshock); Jack Kenneally (Shamrocks), Eugene Aylward (Shamrocks), Dylan Halligan (Carrickshock); Paul Kirwan (Dunnamaggin), James Grace (Carrickshock), Aaron Doherty (Dunnamaggin); Paddy Delaney (Dunnamaggin), Brian Phelan (Mullinavat); Michael Jones (Mullinavat), Colm Phelan (Danesfort), Ronan Corcoran (Shamrocks); Kevin Farrell (Carrickshock), Andy Fitzpatrick (Dunnamaggin), Ronan Coffey (Dunnamaggin). Subs used - Eamon Power (Carrickshock), Dylan Doran (Shamrocks).#
Col Naomh Cormac - C. Kiely, K. Ryan, O. Mahon, A. Kilmartin, D. Young, J. Kilmartin, S. Lowry, S. Guinan, A. Spain, D. Mahon, D. Murray, P. Troy, C. Dooley, H. Dazell, C. Gath. Sub - K. Bracken.
Referee - John Bennett (Kilkenny).