Walker's late winner lands St Francis their first crown
St Francis 1-0 Rice College
The coveted FAI Schools Tony O'Neill Cup is back in Cork following a five-year absence after Gordon Walker's late goal earned a maiden senior trophy for St Francis College of Rochestown yesterday.
With the senior decider at Whitehall locked in a stalemate and heading for extra-time, Walker atoned for a series of earlier missed chances by sinking an 87th-minute strike to see off 10-man Rice College from Westport.
The Mayo side enjoyed patches of dominance during the contest on a damp, slick pitch yet struggled to match the fitness of the Saints due to their numerical disadvantage.
Once Rice lost Cian McAllister to a second yellow card moments into the second-half, they were susceptible to being over-run in attack and that ultimately resulted in the decisive goal.
Walker managed to find room on the right side of the penalty area to receive a cross-field pass from Ross Slevin and he coolly tucked the ball beneath the onrushing Patrick O'Malley.
Earlier in the second-half, the Cobh Ramblers playmaker should have had the Leesiders ahead only for poor accuracy with a couple of headers he was able to get to from set-pieces.
Rice College, for all their possession, rarely troubled Matthew Collins in the opposition goal. With the game scoreless, Jack Murphy curled his effort a yard wide of the near post while, after conceding late on, Paul Doyle couldn't force extra-time with a shot which carried the power but not the accuracy to beat Collins.
The loss of McAllister proved to be a setback having been booked for handball, the midfielder then got himself into trouble for halting the run of Walker. The Munster champions can make it a double next Wednesday when they face St Eunan's in the Under-17 decider. Two of their heroes from yesterday's triumph, Ross Slevin and Rory Doyle, will be aiming for their second national title in a week.
ST FRANCIS, ROCHESTOWN: M Collins; G O'Mahoney, D Nason, Rob Slevin, J Sheehan; R Doyle, S Hilliard, G Walker, P Hickey (Ross Slevin 52); M O'Connell, D O'Sullivan.
RICE COLLEGE, WESTPORT: P O'Malley; M O'Brien, P Lambert, B O'Malley, E Conway; J Murphy, K Kilkelly, C McAllister, P Corcoran; E Rowley (L Tunney 79), P Doyle.
REF - Mark Whelan (Dublin).
FAI Schools Tony O'Neill final