Colaiste Mhuire (Johnstown)3-10
Colaiste Eamon Ris (Callan)2-10
THIS Kilkenny county Junior League final in Nowlan Park underlined exactly, as if one needed convincing, that the standards of under-age hurling, certainly at college level, is still at an exceptional level. Given the extenuating circumstances that it was a competition within the county brethren of schools, at under sixteen and a half level, and given that it catered for players graded a little less than the best team available to the college, this was an enthralling contest which went all the way to the wire.
Without the condescension of flattery, this contest was totally honest, well contested and adorned with a grand element of the skills we expect from all levels of Kilkenny hurling.
There were some terrific players on both sides, and if the victory was with the Johnstown College, one could make the case that it was deserved. On the other hand, a similar case could be made with the same conviction for the gallant Callan College, who were upsides with the winners all of the way to the wire.
Took the lead
A goal by Cillian Hughes in the 53rd minute gave Colaiste Mhuire a lead that they held on to, but they were subjected to a very strong Callan surge in the final seven minutes, a surge that they addressed with gusto, commitment and courage.
At half-time Eamon Ris led by 1-6 to 0-6. The Callan goal came in the final seconds of the half, when the excellent Keith Fitzpatrick knifed through the Johnstown defence to belt home for the only goal of the half.
One could not but be impressed with the abilities of the Johnstown defenders, Niall O’Gorman, Andrew Morgan, outstanding captain Michael Carroll and Luke Hughes. At the other end of the field, Callan’s Sean Tierney was inspirational, while Emmett Landy, Daniel Cahill and the stylish Ryan Bergin were terrific defenders during an exciting opening 30 minutes.
By the 35th minute the Callan College had stretched their led further with an unanswered Darren Brennan 65. Three minutes later, the same player - probably the best one on view - slammed home an equalising goal from a smart free.
Two minutes further on Brennan shot his side in front with a smashing goal, and the Callan lads were chasing the game from there on. But they never bowed the knee.
From number eight to 15 both teams had players with exceptional abilities. Johnstown had Brennan, of course, with Darragh Quinn was an able accomplice beside him. Eoin Vaughan was very good, and clever on the half forward line, as was Jamie Moriarty on the opposite wing, and substitute, Ciaran Hughes.
Sean Fitzgerald had a battle royal with Callan full-back, Sean Tierney, while William Kenny and Richard Saunders were great exponents of corner-forward play throughout.
For Callan, Geoff Maher and Philly Cahill nearly shared the midfield spoils with Brennan and Quinn, while Peter Hennessy had a stormer at centre-forward. The full-forward line of the Power twins, James and Sean was excellent, as was full-forward, Adam Phelan.
It was lively, exciting and an excellent exhibition of the skills of the game was witnessed.
Scorers: Colaiste Mhuire - Darren Brennan (2-5, 2-2 frees, one 65); Ciaran Costigan (1-2); Darragh Quinn, Eoin Vaughan, Jamie Moriarty (0-1 each). Colaiste Eamon Ris - Keith Fitzpatrick (1-3, three points frees); Brendan Power (1-0); Geoff Maher Peter Hennessy (0-2 each); Philly Cahill, Adam Phelan, Sean Power (0-1 each).
Colaiste Mhuire - Conor Bergin, Dean McCann, Niall O’Gorman, Andrew Morgan, Michael Carroll (capt), Luke Hughes, Jack Dunphy, Darragh Quinn, Darren Brennan, Eoin Vaughan, Paul Coss, Jamie Moriarty, Richard Saunders, Sean Fitzgerald, Willie Kenny. Subs - Cillian Hughes, Ciaran Costigan
Colaiste Eamon Ris - Dylan Roche, Peter Boland, Sean Tierney, Dara O’Shea, Emmett Landy, Dan Cahill, Ryan Bergin, Geoff Maher, Philly Cahill, Billy Bergin, Peter Hennessy, Keith Fitzpatrick, James Power, Adam Phelan, Sean Power. Sub - Brendan Power.
Referee - Eamonn Mansfield (Moneenroe).