THE FINAL may have been played on April 1, but the boys from Grennan College were nobody’s fools as they tasted Leinster glory.
The team from Thomastown wrote a new chapter in Tullow, becoming the first team from outside Dublin to lift the Leinster under-16 Division Two title. Grennan grabbed the silverware thanks to a powerful performance, beating Tallaght’s St Aidan’s Community School in a thrilling final.
St Aidan’s started brightly and dominated the opening exchanges, with Grennan goalkeeper Dylan Caulfield pulling off a string of fine saves to keep his team in the game. Then, just when it looked like the Dubliners were going to take control of the game, Grennan left them reeling. Bobby Joe Walsh created the opening when his fiercely struck free-kick was only half-saved, before Ethan Corr pounced to tap in the rebound.
Grennan were buoyed by that strike, but their lead didn’t last long. Stung into action St Aidan’s scored within minutes to leave the game delicately poised at 1-1 going into half-time.
The second half saw the game transform into an incredible encounter for the Grennan side. They were back in front within minutes of the restart, Finn Wilkinson turning a superb Marc Sherry free-kick into the Tallaght net to put Grennan back into the lead. Then, in the 55th minute, team captain Neil O’Mara blasted a free-kick into the top corner to give the Thomastown team a two goal cushion.
Grennan were in dreamland now but their day got even better when, with 15 minutes to go, Ethan Corr capitalised on a goalkeeping error to score his second of the game and leave the College in the driving seat. The Kilkenny school had one hand on the title, but St Aidan’s came back into the game with a second goal.
All this meant a very nervous last few minutes for Thomastown but the Grennan defence, which was brilliantly marshalled all day by Stefen Mesquita, held firm to ensure victory.
Grennan College: Dylan Caulfield, Tony Whelan, Stefen Mesquita, Jack Quarrel, Craig Butler, Ethan Corr, Brian Donnelly, Marc Sherry, Bobby Joe Walsh, Finn Wilkinson, Neil O’Mara, Danny Monks, Andrew Walsh, Jamie Lanigan, Adrian Burke, Tim Cummins, Eddie Corrway, Cian O’Mara, Jason Cummins.