A superb scoring spree from Billy Morrissey saw Castlecomer Communty School ease past Borris VS in the Leinster Colleges championship.
With their full-forward hitting 3-7, ’Comer comfortably got over the first hurdle in the senior hurling championship to set up a meeting with St Kieran’s College.
The North Kilkenny school were too slick and sharp for their Carlow counterparts to cope with - but they showed some shrewdness about their play too.
While the Kilkenny side used the elements to help build up what proved to be an unassailable lead by half-time, to put their victory down to this would be a disservice to Castlecomer, who fought hard over the hour.
While they conceded the first score to Borris, Kevin McDonald doing well to split the posts at the second attempt after his initial free was cleared, once Castlecomer got to grips with the tough conditions and sticky pitch they began to squeeze the opposition out of the game.
The half-back line of Andrew Dowd, Philly and Liam Cass were tested from the off, but came through the examination with flying colours. Helped by the hard-working midfield of Stephen Walsh and Conor Delaney, they began to close off the supply of ball going in to the Borris forwards.
Good as their defensive play was, ’Comer’s real prowess was up top.
Moved off the mark by Jamie Holohan, who intercepted Sean Whelan’s attempted hand-pass and notched up a fine point, once Castlecomer found their range they took control of the scoreboard.
It helped that they had a forward in such form as Morrissey. His first act was to convert a free, awarded after a foul on Holohan on five minutes. His next strike was even better, Morrissey punishing Borris for a foul on Ollie Feehan by blasting the eighth minute free past five Carlow men stationed on the goal line.
Swelling his tally with another free, Morrissey’s little run saw ’Comer move four points in front (1-3 to 0-2) by the tenth minute.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic; Borris made sure they stayed in contention, McDonald adding another free before Chris Nolan caught Darragh O’Neill’s long free and turned that into a point. Morrissey pulled one back from a placed ball, leaving the game nicely poised after 18 minutes.
Fighting a three-point gap (1-4 to 0-4) was manageable for Borris, but they were undone by a swift double whammy which ’Comer unleashed inside three minutes.
Castlecomer did get a little slice of luck when, in the 22nd minute, goalkeeper Jason Shore launched a booming free towards his opposite number. Corner-back Dara Tobin tried to clear the sliotar as it dipped towards the square, but he only succeeded in deflecting it inside his left hand post.
Spurred on by that goal, ’Comer went hunting for another. A lengthy clearance out of defence from Liam Cass provided the chance, Morrissey proving to be a handful as his firm shoulder challenge prevented Brian Kelly from clearing the danger.
When the sliotar spilled in front of Jamie Holohan, he didn’t hesitate. Spotting Curran off his line, the corner-forward delivered a deft lob, looping his shot into the top left corner.
Those two goals, picked off in three minutes, saw Castlecomer stretch their lead to nine points (3-4 to 0-4) by the 25th minute but they weren’t finished yet. With the bit between their teeth they pushed on until the half-time whistle, picking off more scores to race well ahead of their rivals.
Again, Morrissey was to the fore, converting a free and then a 65. He saved his best for last, pouncing to boot the sliotar home after Curran spilled possession after Conor Delaney’s point attempt dropped inside the square.
That goal was a hammer blow for Borris to take. Even though they still had 30 minutes to play, a 13-point gap left them in need of a big second half (4-6 to 0-5).
Forced to go at it from the off Borris started the second half by piling on the pressure. In an effort to force more ball in on the Comer backs they went with a two-man full-forward line, bringing the extra player out towards midfield in an effort to win more possession.
The move paid a quick dividend. Borris got a rub of the green when Kevin McDonald’s searing 34th minute sideline cut flashed into the net via a deflection.
The score lightened the Carlow side’s mood but not for long as two Billy Morrissey frees, followed by Ollie Feehan’s point, cancelled out the goal by the 45th minute.
Borris couldn’t build on that early goal, drawing a blank in their further efforts to close the big gap. Proof that it wasn’t to be their day arrived when ’Comer, who had been forced into a more defensive role, popped up and killed the game off.
Sparked by a long Shore free, the Kilkenny side put the game to bed when Morrissey reached up over a sea of players and flicked the sliotar to the net to complete his hat-trick.
Borris did get some late consolation, Chris Nolan bundling the sliotar home after Ger Coady’s 56th minute shot came back off a post, but it couldn’t stop Castlecomer from charging on.
SCORERS: Castlecomer CS - Billy Morrissey (3-7, 0-6 frees, 0-1 65); Jamie Holohan (1-1); Jason Shore (1-0, free); Ollie Feehan (0-1). Borris VS - Kevin McDonald (1-4, 0-3 frees); Chris Nolan (1-2).
Castlecomer CS - Jason Shore, Donal Cass, Niall McMahon, Shane Feehan, Andrew Dowd, Philly Cass, Liam Cass, Stephen Walsh, Conor Delaney, Shane Dowling, Martin Walsh, Ollie Feehan, Jamie Holohan, Billy Morrissey, Sean Buggy. Subs: David O’Neill for Dowling, 56 mins; David Walsh for Morrissey, 59 mins.
Borris VS - James Curran, James Hogan, Brian Kelly, Dara Tobin, Alex Doyle, Eddie Murphy, Sean Whelan, Martin Kelly, Kevin McDonald, Daragh O’Neill, Jamie Byrne, Sean Murphy, Paddy Nolan, Ger Cody, Chris Nolan. Subs: Conor Foley for B. Kelly, 31 mins; Eoin Redmond for Murphy, 49 mins; Niall Quirke for Nolan, 49 mins; Gary Lawton for Tobin, 55 mins.
Referee - Brochan O’Reilly (Laois).