Failure to take chances left Scoil climbing a mountain

St Fergal’s 0-13

St Fergal’s 0-13

Scoil Aireagail 1-3

ST FERGAL’S (Rathdowney) were the better team, but the failure to take chances when they presented themselves made life difficult for Scoil Aireagail (Ballyhale) in this Leinster vocational schools senior hurling Roinn A semi-final in Castlecomer on Saturday.

The winners had the stand out player in wing-forward, Tadhg Dowling, who from the throw-in arrowed over points from all angles and distances. Indeed, Dowling was the main difference between the sides as St Fergal’s stayed on the road of a possible Leinster junior/senior double.

Scoil Aireagail can have few regrets. However, if they did have regrets they would centre on the failure to put away chances early in both halves.

Only five minutes in, when Fergal’s had a mere point on the ’board, Andy Fitzpatrick had a one-handed strike from the edge of the square saved following a cross from the left by Colm Phelan. Had the big full-forward been able to get a stronger strike on the ball he might have beaten goalie, Eoin Fleming, who, it must be admitted, went on to prove to be a fair performer.

Then at the start of the second half when Scoil Aireagail were trying to force open the door back into the match after going in 0-2 to 0-9 down at the break they threw away a number of chances. With Paddy Dowling, Paul Kirwan and Eoin Doyle driving on the team the losers applied strong pressure, but three wides in-a-row were registered as they sought to pile the pressure on the opposition.

Applied the brakes

Inevitably it was Tadhg Dowling who applied the brakes, or at least slowed down, the losers drive. In the 41st minute he landed St Fergal’s first point of the second period, a score from a free following a foul on driving centre-forward, Sean Corby (0-10 to 0-2).

The trio mentioned above, along with Brian Phelan, James Grace and Ronan Corcoran continued to drive on Scoil Aireagail, but they got little change out of a tight and disciplined Fergal’s defence.

The only scores they got during the half were a point from a Ronan Corcoran free from near midfield and a 56th minute goal from Paddy Delaney, a terrific effort from a bullet like drive from 10-metres that nearly burst the net, but by then the contest was well decided.

It was Dowling who opened the scoring with a point from 20-metres in the third minute. He quickly showed that he was not only good at winning possession, but also at striking and finding the target, as he lashed over two more from huge distances with one reply from Paddy Delaney squeezed in between (0-3 to 0-1).

The main man

Throughout the half Dowling was the main man. By the time the break was reached he already had seven points in his scoring account. With two more from another handy operator, Aidan Corby, St Fergal’s led by 0-9 to 0-2.

The losers, to their credit, let rip after the turn, but three wides during a period of dominance prevented them from really turning the screws on the opposition. When the difference was 0-10 to 0-3 turning into the last quarter, it was obvious Scoil Aireagail needed a goal, or goals, to get back into the match.

While the goal they eventually scored was a great effort, it came too late to save the day. Fergal’s stars, Dowling, Sean and Aidan Corby, Bill Meade, Damien Hogan and agile goalie Eoin Fleming got their just rewards it would have to be said.

Scorers: St Fergal’s – Tadhg Dowling (0-10, six frees); Aidan Corby (0-3). Scoil Aireagail – Paddy Delaney (1-1); Eoin Doyle (0-1, free); Ronan Corcoran (0-1, free).

Scoil Aireagail – Stephen Farrell (Carrickshock), Dylan Halligan (Carrickshock), James Grace (Carrickshock), Jack Kenneally (Shamrocks), Paul Kirwan (Dunnamaggin), Eoin Doyle (Shamrocks), Brian Phelan (Mullinavat), Ronan Corcoran (Shamrocks), Paddy Delaney (Dunnamaggin), Michael Jones (Mullinavat), Eamon Power (Carrickshock), Darren Walters (Mullinavat), Stephen Donnelly (Shamrocks), Andy Fitzpatrick (Dunnamaggin), Colm Phelan (Danesfort). Subs – Richie Phelan (Carrickshock) for M. Jones; Aaron Roche for C. Phelan; Aaron Doherty (Dunnamaggin) for D. Walters.

St Fergal’s – E. Fleming, C. Quinlan, E. Doyle, C. Stapleton, B. Meade, D. Fitzpatrick, S. Finan, D. Hogan, M. Daly, W. Whelan, S. Corby, T. Dowling, A. Corby, S. Cleere, P. Whelan. Subs – R. Bowe for P. Whelan; S. Bergin for W. Whelan.

Referee – P. Kehoe (Carlow).