FIERCELY committed Scoil Aireagail of Ballyhale claimed the Leinster schools senior hurling Division A title at Dr Cullen Park, Carlow on Saturday when a commendable overall team effort saw the south Kilkenny school dethrone the 2012 winners, St Fergal’s of Rathdowney, winning by 1-14 to 0-10.
Scoil Aireagail, narrow winners over Borris Vocational School in the semi-final, had to see off a huge challenge from the Laois side in defence of their title.
In Ronan Corcoran, Scoil Aireagal had the game’s outstanding player. His contribution of 0-10, three from play, was supplemented by his bravery on the ball throughout the game as he proved a real torment to the Fergal’s defence.
The Ballyhale side got off to the ideal start when, in their first genuine attack, right full-forward Kevin Farrell showed neat control as he cut in along the right wing before shooting the ball to the Fergal’s net.
Champs took lead
Darragh Quinlan had given the champions the lead from a pointed free in the second minute and it was very much score for score over the balance of the half. Neither side could claim any great advantage as the play swung from end to end.
As the game developed it became apparent that Ballyhale Shamrocks clubman, Ronan Corcoran, was the ‘go to man’ for Scoil Airegail. Although he missed successive frees from scorable positions in the first half they were the only blemishes on a hugely impressive personal showing.
By half-time it was 1-6 to 0-7 in favour of the challengers. The scoring highlight of the half was a beautiful point from a sideline cut by St Fergal’s No. 13, Mark Kavanagh.
Corcoran stretched the Aireagail lead further with a point from play early in the second half. But Fergal’s fought back and drew level with unanswered points from Mark Kavanagh and a brace from free taker Darragh Quinlan, one off a free and the other from a 65.
But Ronan Corcoran edged the Ballyhale side in front again from a free and then added another from play before again finding the mark from a placed ball.
A sweet point from play by Mark Kavanagh cut the arrears to two before the game’s turning point arrived. In the 35th minute Mark Kavanagh picked out Aidan Corby on an overlap, but the No 15’s attempt to find a free forward inside saw the ball brilliantly intercepted by Airegail full-back, Eugene Aylward, who prevented a certain goal.
The path to goal never opened up again for the Laois side in this manner as the Kilkenny lads took control of the game in a second half. The tie swung more dramatically in the Cats favour on 47 minutes when Fergal’s midfielder Colm Stapleton was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Aireagail’s impressive right half back Paul Kirwan.
From there there was no comeback for Fergal’s as Scoil Aireagail piled on the scores to eventually win by seven points, with substitute Ronan Coffey shooting two fine points from play and another substitute, Ray Coady, also raising a white flag. Goalie Aaron Roche made a smart late save also to keep his goal intact.
Deserved glory then for the Ballyhale lads, whose second half showing proved too much for their gallant opponents.
Best for the winners, besides the outstanding Ronan Corcoran, were Eugene Aylward, Paul Kirwan, team captain James Grace, midfielder Paddy Delaney and forwards Andrew Fitzpatrick and Ronan Coffey.
For St Fergal’s, Eoin Doyle, Robbie Phelan, Liam O’Connell, Mark Kavanagh and Darragh Quinlan did best.
Scorers: Scoil Aireagail - R. Corcoran (0-10, 0-7 frees); K. Farrell (1-0); R. Coffey (0-2); E. Power, R. Coady (0-1 each). St Fergal’s - D. Quinlan (0-6, 0-5 frees, 0-1 65); M. Kavanagh (0-2); S. Bergin, L. O’Connell (0-1 each).
Scoil Aireagail - A. Roche (Carrickshock); J. Kenneally (Ballyhale Shamrocks), E. Aylward (Ballyhale Shamrocks), D. Halligan (Carrickshock); P. Kirwan (Dunnamaggin), J. Grace (Carrickshock), A. Doherty (Carrickshock); P. Delaney (Dunnamaggin), B. Phelan (Mullinavat); M. Jones (Mullinavat), E. Power (Carrickshock), C. Phelan (Danesfort); K. Farrell (Carrickshock), R. Corcoran (Ballyhale Shamrocks), A. Fitpatrick (Dunnamaggin). Subs - R. Coffey (Dunnamaggin) for Power 42nd min; R. Coady (Dunnamaggin) for Farrell 45th min; D. Waters (Mullinavat) for B. Phelan 58th min.
St Fergal’s - D. Brennan; C. Quinlan, E. Doyle, C. Kilbane; R. Phelan, G. Dunne, B. Meade; C. Stapleton, L. O’Connell; L. Cleere, P. Whelan, S. Bergin; M. Kavanagh, D. Quinlan, A. Corby. Subs - D. Hogan for Whelan 38th min; E. Fitpatrick for Cleere 51st min.
Referee: Brian Deering (Carlow).