If a report card were to be sent to the players on the CBS team after this match it would probably read: “Good effort, but can and must do better.”
While Kilkenny CBS, the defending champions, did the expected and beat Good Counsel (New Ross) by 1-16 to 0-13 in this Leinster post primary schools senior hurling championship semi-final they didn’t bare their teeth and produce the best that is in them.
Fair enough, that will do the next day and beyond, but things must be put in perspective, writes John Knox. The ‘next day’ will be a tough engagement against League champions, St Kieran’s College in the provincial final on Saturday, March 8, when the CBS will have to play better if they are to retain the title.
The Leinster final comes with a ‘safety net’, however, because the winners and losers go through to the All-Ireland series.
“We dug out the win,” suggested CBS selector, Niall Grogan after Saturday’s win. “It’s nice to be in a Leinster final, but we couldn’t be happy with the performance. That said, we came into the game with five or six players restricted in their training because they were carrying knocks.
“Preparations weren’t ideal. At the end of the day it was all about getting to the final, and we did that. We know we have an awful lot of work to do to even compete in the final. We will have to raise our game massively.
“St Kieran’s beat us in the League final. They are a good team, and they ran up a big score when winning the second semi-final. Our total focus will be on winning the final.”
Comforting for the CBS has to be the fact that they produced their best when the pressure was really on them. Good Counsel opened backed by the strong wind blowing right down the Waterford IT pitch, and when they reached half-time on level terms of 0-8 each they looked in trouble.
They reshaped their team, and with a dynamic new half back trio of Pat Lyng, Liam Hennessy and Brian Quigley they actually got on top for a while. That was after conceding an excellent goal to Robbie Buckley, which looked to have really hurt them when it dumped them 1-8 to 0-8 behind.
Not so! The Slaneysiders bounced back to shoot the next three scores per Cian O’Donoghue, Darragh Barden, after a lovely delivery form Hennessy, and free taker Sean Ryan to draw level at 1-8 to 0-11 in the 38th minute.
Things looked to be going really well for the ’Counsel when Cathal Bolger grabbed their fourth score on bounce to edge them 0-12 to 1-8 in front.
If the CBS felt they were being edged into a corner, the response was good. They hit back for a lovely levelling point from top scorer, Andrew Gaffney. Each side of the lead point from Gaffney that followed (1-10 to 0-12) Good Counsel’s Liam Fennelly tested CBS goalie, Darragh Holohan, from close range and the ’keeper stood firm.
Niall Mullins, who was inspiring in the testing finishing straight, and Robbie Buckley clipped over lovely points to strengthen the growing the CBS effort (1-12 to 0-12). The Counsel’s Sean Ryan pulled back a minor via a 30 metre free to maintain momentum to the chase.
A jersey pull on Gaffney, and a foul on Buckley, brought the reward of two points from frees by the former to edge the CBS 1-14 to 0-13 clear four minutes from the end.
The business of the day was completed there and then really, although the CBS endured a late scare when a close in free by John Walsh stayed out of with the help of the cross-bar. Into injury time the losers had a player sent off, but by then the CBS were on their way.
When the figures were tallied, it emerged that the CBS out-scored the opposition by 0-8 to 0-1 during the closing 20 minutes. That was good going, and proved that when push came to shove - because their mettle was tested - they had something big to offer.
Their defence was generally solid, and especially so during the opening half when all the losers eight scores came by way of frees, Sean Ryan (5), Cian O’Donoghue and John Walsh. At the other end free taker Andrew Gaffney snatched six for the CBS, with Niall Mullins and a somewhat unlucky Jamie Byrne - he might have scored a few goals, but he was crowded out - making up the balance.
The CBS opened the new half with a beautifully executed goal. Paul Delahanty crossed from the right. Robbie Buckley sprinted from the far corner to gather the ball on the near side of the square before swivelling and lashing it into the net.
The promise of that score wasn’t realise for a while, but the CBS worked hard to get their game right. Paddy Deegan, Cathal McGrath, a terrific Niall Mullins, Andrew Gaffney, Luke Scanlon, Darragh Holohan and an inventive and clinical finishing Robbie Buckley achieved most as a place in the decider was booked.
An all city final awaits.
SCORERS: Kilkenny CBS - Andrew Gaffney (0-11, nine frees); Robbie Buckley (1-1); Niall Mullins (0-3); Jamie Byrne (0-1). Good Counsel - Sean Ryan (0-7, six frees); Cian O’Donoghue (0-3, one free, one 65); Darragh Barden, Cathal Bolger (0-1 each); John Walsh (0-1, free).
Kilkenny CBS - Darragh Holohan (Dicksboro), Kevin Galvin (Clara), Cathal McGrath (John Lockes), Dylan Scott (Dicksboro), J.P. Treacy (Young Irelands), Paddy Deegan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Gary Bryan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Niall Mullins (James Stephens), James Lenehan (O’Loughlin Gaels), Danny Bolger (O’Loughlin Gaels), Luke Scanlon (James Stephens), Andrew Gaffney (Dicksboro), Robbie Buckley (O’Loughlin Gaels), James Byrne (James Stephens), Paul Delahanty (Young Irelands). Subs: Robbie Murphy (Dicksboro) for Bolger, Matthew McWey (James Stephens) for Delahanty, Huw Lawlor (O’Loughlin Gaels) for Byrne.
Good Counsel (Kilkenny clubs named) - Ciaran O’Connor, Darragh Brennan (Carrickshock), Donagh O’Connor (Tullogher-Rosbercon), Ian Carthy, Pat Lyng (Rower-Inistioge), Darragh Barden, Brian Quigley, Sean Ryan, Bob Whitley, Cian O’Donoghue (Tullogher-Rosbercon), Liam Hennessy (Glenmore), Adam Diskin, Cathal Bolger (Rower-Inistioge), John Walsh (Mullinavat), Stephen O’Gorman. Subs: Conor Duggan (Mullinavat) for Carthy, Shane Ryan (Rower-Inistioge) for Whitley, Liam Fennelly (Mullinavat) for Diskin, Dylan Kehoe (Rower-Inistioge) for Quigley.
Referee - Brochan O’Reilly (Laois).