Shaky Saints book final shoot-out with city rivals

St Kieran’s College0-15

St Kieran’s College0-15

Colaiste Eoin1-8 (11 pts)

This was what you would class a ‘move on performance’ from stuttering defending Leinster and All-Ireland champions, St Kieran’s College, writes John Knox.

The Kilkenny school booked a place in the provincial final against city rivals, Kilkenny CBS in two weeks time, but the prize gained more than the performance put in against physically strong and determined Colaiste Eoin (Dublin) was the thing that will occupy the minds of the victors more than anything else.

To be honest, St Kieran’s will have to improve on this showing in Dr Cullen Park, Carlow, on Sunday.

“We have played better,” admitted St Kieran’s official, David McCormack, who will now see his charges face his alma mater. “We always knew Colaiste Eoin would be difficult, and it will be the same against the CBS. There is never much between us, and it will be the same in the final.”

Colaiste Eoin, who employed a seventh defender during most of the match, worked their socks off and they didn’t allow the champions build up any sort of momentum. Kieran’s best period was during the closing six minutes when lovely striker, Thomas O’Hanrahan, sub Jamie Maher, after combining with fellow sub David Burke, and deadly free taker Michael Donnelly at the double produced the points which divided the teams at the finish.

Showed character

“We showed real character during the closing 10 minutes or so to win,” was the summary of Mr McCormack.

It was the Dubliners, who were facing the fresh breeze blowing from the town end, who took hold of the game early on. They opened with a quick point from Jack Phelan. That was followed by a fifth minute goal from Colm Cronin, whose shot from eight metres on the right somehow found a hole in the far side of the net through which the ball sneaked out, forcing a quick repair job by local officials.

The losers were held to a pair of points from frees by Michael Donnelly during the opening 20 minutes, when the Dubs packed defence unsettled them. Indeed, were it not for some excellent play by the full-back trio of Robert O’Hanrahan, Robert Lennon and William Allen, plus the drive of Peter Kenneally in midfield and Donnelly further up, St Kieran’s could have slipped further back.

As it was they faced into the closing 10 minutes of the half facing a slight deficit (1-2 to 0-2). The Kilkenny lads eventually came to grips with the game plan of the opposition, and with free man on the half-back line, Aidan Cleere, hitting a lot of ball, the scores began to flow.

Donnelly and Chris Bolger nicked minors before a long free from Cleere was batted out by a defender to the waiting Thomas O’Hanrahan, who clipped over the equaliser (1-2 to 0-5).

The hat-trick of points from Kieran’s inside line was completed when Jack McGrath and Ciaran Prendergast hit the target to take them, somewhat against the run of play, into an interval lead of 0-7 to 1-2.

Dubs on top

Kieran’s lost centre-back, Emmet Byrne, through injury late in that half but after their big finish the expectation was that they would drive on.

The opposite happened. Colaiste Eoin took hold of the game from the restart. Within 90 seconds Oisin O’Rourke (free) and Kevin O’Doherty, a really good score, posted points to level again (0-7 to 1-4).

During the 20-odd minutes that followed the scores were level four times, the last being in the 53rd minute when Jack Phelan did very well to haul the losers back to terms (0-11 to 1-8).

When their backs were to the wall, St Kieran’s finally lifted their game. With subs Burke and Maher adding a bit of an edge to the attack that was largely carried by Donnelly and O’Hanrahan, and Diarmuid Cody a strong presence in defence after being moved there from the attack, they cobbled together a strong effort that got them through.

Scorers: St Kieran’s College – Michael Donnelly (0-8, six frees); Thomas O’Hanrahan (0-3); Chris Bolger, Jack McGrath, Ciaran Prendergast, Jamie Maher (0-1 each). Colaiste Eoin – Kevin Doherty (0-3); Colm Cronin (1-0); Oisin O’Rourke (0-2, frees); Jack Phelan (0-2); Ciaran Callaghan (0-1).

St Kieran’s College – Noel Kehoe (Clara); Robert O’Hanrahan (Thomastown), Robert Lennon (Bennettsbridge), William Allen (Rower-Inistioge); Eoin Gough (Dicksboro), Emmett Byrne (Young Irelands), Aidan Cleere (Bennettsbridge); Peter Kenneally (Dunnamaggin), Cormac Wafer (Bennettsbridge); Chris Bolger, Michael Donnelly (Thomastown), Diarmuid Cody (James Stephens); Jack McGrath (James Stephens), Thomas O’Hanrahan (Thomastown), Ciaran Prendergast (Clara). Subs – Enda Morrissey (Bennettsbridge) for Byrne (inj) 25th min; David Burke (O’Loughlin Gaels) for McGrath 48th min; Jamie Maher (St Lachtain’s) for Kenneally 56th minute.

Colaiste Eoin – K. Smith; C. O Siochain, R. Murphy, C. Farrell; J. Clinton, E. Doherty, F. Ryan Byrne; C. Callaghan, J. Phelan; C. Cronin, K. O’Doherty, C. O’Neill; O. O’Rourke, D. Keane, F. Motherway. Sub – M. MacDonnacha.

Referee – P. O’Dwyer (Carlow).