Bad luck denies Johnstown a Leinster berth

Borris VS 3-10

Borris VS 3-10

Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown 2-10

THE WIDTH of a post, plus the concession of a goal either side of the break, ended Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown’s hopes of making the Leinster Vocational Schools senior hurling final.

The North Kilkenny school recovered from a slow start and the concession of a quick goal, and looked like they had started to turn the game their way until fate intervened at a brilliantly sunny Thomastown on Saturday.

Pressing on in the dying seconds of first half normal time, sub Liam Hickey dropped in a teasing ball. Shane Donnelly was quickest to react, rising the sliotar before connecting with a clean strike, but his shot clipped the outside of netminder Dion Wall’s left post.

A relieved Borris scrambled the ball to safety, Darren Dalton and Jack Kavanagh working it upfield for Craig Wall to score a point.

Another hammer blow came two minutes into stoppage time, when Diarmuid Byrne tried to point a long range free. His effort dropped short, but disappointment was averted as Emmet Foley followed the bouncing loose sliotar, instinctively reaching out to flick it inside the near post.

Late flurry

That late flurry left Johnstown four points behind (2-4 to 0-6), but worse was to follow. The new half was just two minutes old when Jack Kavanagh’s low shot spin awkwardly off Shane Moriarty’s hurley, the sliotar looping over the ’keeper’s shoulder and into the net.

Swiftly followed by Michael Malone’s point, in little over six minutes Johnstown had gone from all square to eight points down and in some trouble (3-5 to 0-6).

The Carlow side had been quick off the goal mark in the first half too, with the unmarked Emmet Foley netting from close range after he was sent on his way by Martin Kavanagh’s telling hand-pass. Johnstown battled their way back into the game thanks to five Kevin Sweeney points and a Conor Martin free, but they had a tough job against a Borris side driven on by Darren Dalton and Martin Kavanagh.

Despite conceding those goals Johnstown upped their game. Determined to prove they weren’t out of the game they rocked the leaders, plundering two goals in four minutes to revive their hopes.

Conor Martin - moved from centre-back to full-forward in a straight swap with Jason Stanley - grabbed the first, somehow finding enough room to drill a 21 yard free past the eight Borris men posted on the goal line. Sub Liam Hickey hit an even more impressive second, going on a blistering solo run before cracking a bullet-like drive past ’keeper Dion Wall.

Chasing gap

That goal left Johnstown chasing a two-point gap (3-5 to 2-6) with 19 minutes to play, but Borris’s cool heads prevailed when they needed them most. Craig Wall drove a long-range point over the bar to relieve the pressure, with two more Martin Kavanagh frees stretching the gap to five again with a quarter of the game to play.

Those points bent Johnstown’s spirit, but didn’t break it. Kevin Sweeney picked off a fine point following Willie Brennan’s excellent sideline cut, while Conor Martin also tacked on a 65. However, Borris had the scent of victory in their nostrils, forcing their way across the finish line thanks to late points from Seanie Whelan and Kavanagh.

Johnstown did close the gap again, with another Sweeney free before corner-forward Donnelly was felled in the square in the 60th minute. Such was Johnstown’s luck, Conor Martin’s fiercely struck penalty went over the bar - and with it his side’s hopes of a late reprieve.

SCORERS: Borris VS - Emmet Foley (2-0); Martin Kavanagh (0-4, 0-3 frees); Jack Kavanagh (1-0); Craig Wall (0-2); Diarmuid Byrne (0-1, free); Ciaran Canavan, Michael Malone, Sean Whelan (0-1 each). Colaiste Mhuire - Kevin Sweeney (0-7, 0-4 frees); Conor Martin (1-2, 1-0 free, 0-1 pen, 65); Liam Hickey (1-0); Shane Donnelly (0-1).

Colaiste Mhuire Johnstown - S. Moriarty, N. O’Gorman, T. Moriarty, M. Drennan, D. O’Gorman, C. Martin, S. Quinlan, W. Brennan, F. Phelan, J. Kenny, P. Duggan, K. Sweeney, E. Vaughan, J. Stanley, S. Donnelly. Subs: L. Hickey for Phelan (inj), L. Hughes for Duggan.

Borris VS - D. Wall, S. Whelan, J. Kelly, B. Nolan, D. Byrne, T. Joyce, B. Barcoe, C. Wall, D. Dalton, M. Malone, M. Kavanagh, M. Walsh, J. Kavanagh, E. Foley, C. Canavan. Sub: M. Kelly for Walsh.

Referee - S. Whelan (Wexford).