A VERY fine game of football, indeed. Two well drilled sides going head to head, toe to toe in a clean, open, honest game of football.
Apart from fog threatening to – but never actually – enveloping Austin Stack Park the conditions were near perfect for football at this time of the year. Both teams took their cue from that. St Michaels were the more coherent outfit. The stronger outfit and with ten players from one club on the starting fifteen – Listowel Emmets not unsurprisingly – that was to be expected.
That's not to say that Gaelcholáiste Chiarraí weren't well drilled. They were and when they got a chance to open up and play ball they were arguably the more exciting side. That's how it played out in the first half. St Michaels dominated possession and with Cormac Mulvhill on song from the placed balls and Darragh Leahy playing well at centre-forward they were in the driving seat and yet Gaelcholáiste managed to hang on in there.
At one stage in the first half they trailed five points to one, by the time the halftime whistle blew it they trailed by just two (four points to St Michaels' six). That was some achievement considering their injuries – especially the injury to a man expected to be one of their star players, Kealan Ó Dubhlainnlan. In fairness the two players brought off the bench in the first half by Gaelcholáiste boss Eddie Murphy, Cian Cuirc and Neil Ó Coileán, excelled.
The second half was more nip and tuck in the initial stages, but gradually John Mulvihill and Liam Hassett's St Michaels reasserted the control they seemed to have in the first half. With about ten minutes to go in the half Rici Hanley and Mulvihill fired them four clear again. It was looking very good for the Listowel side. Gaelcholáiste rallied, however. Fionn Ó Caochlaoich fired them back to within three.
The brilliant Jordan Cuirc fired them to within two. A Brendán Caball free brought them to within one of St Michaels and then the substitute Darragh Ó Seannacháin got the all important goal. They led for just the second time in the match. For St Michaels to have lost out in such circumstances would have been a bitter pill to swallow. Fair play to them though they rallied and earned their draw. Darragh Leahy's late equalister summing up their defiance.
Extra-time was all about St Michaels. The won the first half two-one and the second half five-nil. Gaelcholáiste just couldn't handle extra-time. They had players down with cramp, while St Michaels seemed unaffected, by and large, by the added efforts of extratime. They deserved their victory, there's no doubt about that. They were the more solid side. They played good attractive football and scored a seriously impressive twenty points.
Most of the focus in the build-up to Wednesday's night's finals was on the O'Sullivan Cup final, but these two sides showed what good young footballers there are in the county outside of the Corn Uí Mhuirí schools.
ST MICHAELS COLLEGE LISTOWEL: Paul Kennedy (Listowel Emmets), Luke O'Donnell (Duagh), Darragh Broderick (Listowel Emmets), Kenneth Kelliher (Listowel Emmets), Jake Moriarty (Listowel Emmets), TJ Dowling (Ballydonoghue), Alan Kennelly (0-1) (St Senans), Luke Lynch (St Senans), Darragh Leahy (0-1) (Listowel Emmets), Bill O'Flynn (0-1) (Listowel Emmets), Darragh O'Shea (0-4) (Ballydonoghue), David Keane (0-4, 3f) (Listowel Emmets), Rici Hanley (0-1) (Listowel Emmets), Micheál Stack (Listowel Emmets), Cormac Mulvihill (0-8, 7f) (Listowel Emmets) Subs: Dara Hughes (Listowel Emmets) for M Stack GAELCHOLÁISTE CHIARRAÍ: Nathan de Róiste (Na Gaeil), Darragh Finn (Annascaul), Dónal Ó Fionnagáin (Kerins O'Rahillys), Eoin Ó Curraí (Annascaul), Liam Ó Nualláin (Ballyduff), Daithí Ó Murchu (Kerins O'Rahillys), Aaron Croidhean (Castlegregory), MacDara de Bhillis (Dr Crokes), Andrui Finn (Annascaul), Lucás Gleasure (Churchill), Kealan Ó Dubhlainnlan (0-1f) (Castlegregory), Ian MacAmhlaoibh (Finuge), Brendán Caball (0-7, 5f) (Austin Stacks), Jordan Cuirc (0-1) (Castlegregory), Fionn Ó Caochlaoich (0-2) (Annascaul) Subs: Cian Cuirc (Na Gaeil) for L Gleasure, Neil Ó Coileán (Churchill) for K Ó Dubhlainnlan, Darragh Ó Seannacháin (0-1) (Finuge) for I MacAmhlaoibh, Tadhg Ó Loingsigh (Churchill) for D Finn, Laim Ó Conchuir (Finuge) for B Caball, Dylan De Burca (Na Gaeil) for F Ó Caochlaoich
REFEREE: E Walsh (Rathmore)