Scoil Aireagail, Ballyhale qualified for the South Leinster schools senior football final after scoring an impressive 11 point win over Ramsgrange Community School, winning by 1-12 to 0-4.
Aided by a slight breeze Scoil Aireagail got off to the perfect start when Brian Phelan caught the throw-in and his first time delivery allowed Ronan Coffey to open his account with a point from an acute angle. The winners continued to press home the advantage but wasted scoring opportunities meant that by the 12th minute only a Ronan Corcoran point was added to the score.
Liam Glynn from Ramsgrange threatened the Ballyhale goal, but his two efforts went narrowly wide of Darren Watter’s upright. In the 17th minute a rasping shot from Aireagail’s Colm Phelan hit the underside of the crossbar and the ball was cleared to safety by impressive full-back John Furlong.
Additional points from Ray Cody and Roan Coffey extended Scoil Aireagail’s lead to four.
A lapse in concentration in the Ballyhale defence allowed Ramsgrange to counter attack and the industrious David Forde halved the Ballyhale lead with two well taken frees. Even though the teams threatened each others defence, neither could add to their scores.
The half time score was Scoil Aireagail 0-4, Ramsgrange 0-2.
The second half exchanges started evenly with both sides trading early points. Brian Phelan and Patrick Delaney began to dominate midfield with both providing excellent scoring opportunities to the inside forwards of Kevin Farrell and Aaron Roche.
Two pointed frees from Colin Phelan extended Scoil Aireagail’s lead. The turning point came when a perfectly executed pass from Michael Jones found Aaron Roche on the edge of the square, and he coolly slotted the ball past James Kavanagh in the Ramsgrange goal.
Brian Phelan added a point and additional points from Colm Phelan, Kevin Farrell (2) and Andrew Fitzpatrick saw the South Kilkenny school qualify for the final against either Piperhill College, Naas or Avondale Community College. On this showing Scoil Aireagail have a good chance of qualifying for the penultimate stages of the Leinster championship.
Scoil Aireagail - Darren Watters (Mullinavat), Dylan Halligan (Carrickshock), Eugene Alyward, (Shamrocks), Aaron Doherty (Dunnamaggin), Michael Jones (Mullinavat), Andrew Fitzpatrick (Dunnamaggin), Patrick Delaney (Dunnamaggin), Brian Phelan (Mullinavat), Paul Kirwan (Dunnamaggin), Ronan Coffey (Dunnamaggin), Colm Phealn (Danesfort), Ronan Corcoran (Shamrocks), Ray Cody (Carrickshock), Aaron Roche (Carrickshock), Kevin Farrell (Carrickshock). Subs - Dylan Doran (Shamrocks), Eamonn Power (Carrickshock), Shaun Donnelly (Shamrocks).
Referee - John Bennett.
On Saturday in the Eire Og ground, Carlow, Scoil Aireagail qualified for the Leinster vocational schools Roinn A hurling senior final by beating Borris VC by a goal after a hard-fought encounter in which the Carlow side started brilliantly when aided by the stiff breeze.
This was a tremendous win for the Ballyhale School, and it affords them the distinction of contesting their first Leinster final against Rathdowney since last they won it in 1998.
The last time these two teams met the Borris lads had a whopping 13-point advantage at the finish. It looked early on as if history would repeat itself as the Borris lads again swept into a half time lead of 1-8 to 1-3.
Carlow senior player, Marty Kavanagh had clattered home their goal from a 20-metre free early in the half. But Ronan Corcoran had nullified the advantage that goal afforded some 10 minutes before the break with a cracker of his own.
The Ballyhale men set their stall out early in the second half and a brilliantly crafted goal by Michael Jones saw Andrew Fitzpatrick slam home a marvellous goal in the 41st minute.
Tremendous work by the likes of Dylan Halligan, Jack Kenneally, Paddy Delaney, James Grace, Jones and Fitzpatrick insured that the industrious Kavanagh and company were afforded little latitude in their attempts for scores. It is now onto the final on March 2 and it will take a decent team to deny this Ballyhale outfit, who are only buzzing to get a crack at the provincial title.
Scorers: Scoil Aireagail - Ronan Corcoran (1-9); Andrew Fitzpatrick (1-0); C.Phelan (0-1). Borris - M. Kavanagh (1-8); J. Kavanagh (0-1); M. Malone (0-1).
Scoil Aireagail - A. Roche, J. Kenneally, E. Alyward, D. Halligan, P. Kirwan, J. Grace, A. Doherty, P. Delaney,
B. Phelan, C. Phelan, R. Corcoran, M. Jones, K. Farrell, A. Fitzpatrick, E. Power. Subs - Ronan Coffee, Ray Cody.