Clarke top of the class in Belgrove triumph
Croke Park was the venue yesterday for day one of the annual Cumann na mBunscoil football finals, which are taking place this week.
The games were postponed before Christmas due to the cold snap, but it was worth the wait as eight finals meant there was a feast of football.
One of the stories of the day belongs to the Belgrove Senior Boys school from Clontarf who captured the Corn Kitterick after proving too strong for much-fancied fellow Dubliners St Brigid's, Castleknock.
Jack Barr, son of Dublin legend Keith, lined out for 'Knock, but despite his and his side's best efforts they were unable to match the physicality of the Belgrove lads.
The winners got off to a blistering start as they scored 3-5 before Brigid's managed to trouble the umpires.
Kevin Lillis found the net inside 30 seconds of the opening whistle. This was quickly followed by points from Patrick Smyth, Rory Clarke (two), Lillis and Sean O'Flaherty before goals by Clarke and Jack Polion gave them an unassailable 14-point lead.
Even though it was a team filled with star performers, there was little doubt who stole the show. Clarke, the golden-haired midfield machine, was simply irresistible for the entire game and finished with 1-5 from play.
To their credit, however, Brigid's showed tremendous spirit to keep fighting until the death. Centre-back David Hawkshaw drove forward with every opportunity and the introduction of Josh Connolly breathed new life into their attack.
But the damage had already been done and a brilliant second-half goal by Lillis dispelled any notion of a comeback.
Perhaps the game of the day was played out by the girls of Scoil Lorcain, Monkstown, and Loreto, Rathfarnham, in the final of the Corn Comhar Linn.
One point separated the teams at the end of a pulsating tie. Monkstown centre-forward Niamh Ni Shiochan was the heroine, her two brilliant second-half goals saw her side take home the silverware.
Elsewhere, three goals from Conn O'Riordan of St Joseph's, Terenure, laid the foundations for their win over rivals St Pius, Templeogue, in the day's curtain-raiser.
There were also memorable victories for St Brigid's, Killester; Guardian Angels, Blackrock; St Mary's, Lucan; Gaelscoil Naomh Padraig, Lucan and Star of the Sea, Sandymount.