Wednesday 16 October 2019

Pure joy for Morris

Kevin praises his band of brothers

Jim Murphy presents Coláiste Bhríde’s Owen Young with the South Leinster ‘C’ trophy after their win over Wexford CBS
Jim Murphy presents Coláiste Bhríde’s Owen Young with the South Leinster ‘C’ trophy after their win over Wexford CBS

Brendan Lawrence, Sports Editor

The Coláiste Bhríde management team of Kevin Morris and Pat Nolan were more than happy campers last Friday afternoon after their Junior hurlers had toppled Wexford CBS in the South Leinster 'C' final replay.

Both men have known some wonderful days as managers of hurling and football teams in the thriving school and both men shared the joy of seeing of stiff Wexford competition to claim this South Leinster crown.

We caught up with Kevin Morris on Monday evening last and he said the key thing in relation to the victory was that the team performed just as well if not better than the first day.

'It was a good feeling; these days don't come around too often for us against a strong Wexford school in a South Leinster final, so it was a big release. I suppose the main thing was that we performed just as well as the first day, maybe even a little bit better when it really mattered. That was great to see. There were probably two or three lads who weren't happy with their performance the first day really upped it the second day and that was probably the difference.

'From one to 15 I'd be delighted with them, but the lads who don't get the credit are the lads wearing 16 to 28 who didn't get on the field, who trained just as hard and some of them would have played a big part of getting to the final in different games. Those lads were important as well. This was a real, real group effort. It was great to see. Even the likes of young Shane Browne there in the middle of the field, his first year in the school, he would have transferred to us there, and for him to be involved with that and to get really in with the lads in transition year, I suppose it's a great boost for him,' he added.

That's two South Leinster crowns in a row at under-16 for Coláiste Bhríde Carnew now after victory over Bagenalstown. This will undoubtedly give hurling in the area a boost. Another important factor for Kevin Morris was that the reliance on Joe Conry and Owen Young the first day wasn't there in the replay.

'We've two in a row at under-16 now, we beat Bagenalstown last year in the final, and to win this after the replay, maybe people might have thought the first day we might have got a bit lucky, might have caught them on the hop.

'After the first day I wouldn't have had a few friends there at the game and they were saying that maybe we were a little bit reliant on Joe Conroy the first day, he got three goals on his own, and Owen Young got the points, and maybe lads were saying we were a one-man or a two-man team.

'And Joe had a brilliant game in the replay, don't get me, he had a brilliant game, but I don't think we were as reliant on him, the whole team performed well, they stood up.

'Obviously, Wexford CBS were going to come out with a plan to stop Joe the second day, but I thought the other players around the field really stood up on Friday.

'Owen Young, in fairness to the chap, to hit 11 frees in a South Leinster final in that wind that was swirling around Ferns was just unbelievable. 10 frees and a 65, he missed one free out of 12. Fantastic. And none of those frees were gimmes. He was hitting those frees from inside his own half at 16 years of age,' he said.

One man who came in for special praise for his performance when his side were under the kosh was Carnew's Eoin Kavanagh. Mr Morris agrees.

'Look, the thing is with Kav, a lot of people will tell you he's a Wicklow hurler and all this. There wouldn't be many inter-county Minor teams that Eoin Kavanagh wouldn't walk on to. He's an animal. He's built like a man. He's strong. He's very good on both sides, he can hurl off left he can hurl off right. If you want it hard, he'll give it to you hard. He's got pace.

'He ticks about every box but he's a real leader too. There would be a lot of young lads looking up to him.

'I thought that it was when the pressure came on that Eoin really stood up.

'When the ball was landing in on the top of that half-back line and they were getting closer and closer and time was getting short and the score was getting tighter and tighter after each passing minute it was Eoin that was coming ot with ball after ball after ball.

'I had a word with him after the first day that maybe he was trying too hard and to just relax and enjoy his hurling. And when he gets his head up and delivers that ball, he delivered the ball to Joe after 90 seconds for the goal for an unreal start, but, again, it's off a Kavanagh ball off his left hand inside his own 45 straight into Joe,' said Kevin.

The Coláiste Bhríde side were carrying plenty of knocks into the replay and they were also hit with the news that their goalkeeper was struck down with illness the morning of the game.

'Another thing that not a lot of people knew was, the goalkeeper, young Adam O'Donoghue, his mother had rang me at 8pm in the morning of the final to say that Adam was very sick and that there was a strong chance that he wouldn't be able to play and that she was going to keep him at home.

'I actually had to go, there was only one member of the panel that knew and that was Cormac Redmond who was down to play corner-back.

'I went to Cormac and said there's a chance here that if Adam doesn't make it you're going to have to stand in goal.

'Cormac never played in goal in his life, and when I told Ken, who drives the bus, Cormac's father, he nearly dropped as well. But I told him that we don't have a recognised sub goalkeeper and I just went to Cormac and told him he might be needed.

'But Adam, in fairness to him, he came, and he had a super performance, put in two fine saves, played against what any doctor would have told him to do.

'And we had Cian Ó Túama playing in corner-forward who came back from a serious knee injury, he done ligament damage in the first game, he played corner-forward with a strapped knee.

'Young Brendan Tobin got his shoulder strapped before the game, he had a serious shoulder injury, and he played as well.

'And one person I have to mention, William O'Neill, the physio, he came and offered his services to us free of charge. That was off his own back. He contacted me to say he was coming to see one of the players but that he was more than happy to stay and look after the team,' said Kevin Morris.

The attitude to training and the dedication to the game were there to be seen on both days. Kevin Morris says that Coláiste Bhríde were just the better team on the day.

'The one thing, the whole training aspect of it has been unreal. They've trained in Craanford and in Carnew, numbers have been up and 26 and 27 lads on a Sunday evening. It was brilliant.

'I really thought we were a better team, and that's saying something because Wexford CBS would have four lads on the Wexford Minor panel, so we knew coming up along that they'd be ready for us.

'I suppose we backed our forwards a bit more. There were a few positional changes from the first day, maybe we pushed up a little more and backed our lads to do damage at the other end and if they were going to score at our end, we were willing to back our lads to score more.

'To be honest, in my wildest dreams I couldn't have seen the start we got. Joe scored a goal after a matter of seconds. The first ball he got. Obviously, we had targeted that, but we knew that they would be trying to counteract that.

Cian Ó Túama and Stephen Kenny in the corners, they mightn't have got then scores but the amount of damage they did, they caused the frees that Owen Young punished. And young Thomas Hayden is a real unsung hero. He was hurling off a lad from Glynn-Barntown, coming out of a Senior club in Wexford, and Tom is more of a natural back and I asked him to do a job at half forward and that was probably the biggest match he ever played in and he gave a great performance.

'I thought the full-back line were brilliant with Adam (in goals). I thought Cormac Redmond and Wafer in the middle, they plated ina Leinster final last year so they would have a bit of experience. Young James Doyle from Craanford was in the other corner, he would have been very hard on himself from the first day, the corner-forward got in behind him once and he was very hard on himself. He came back into the game on the second day and he really got stuck in, he's a real natural corner-back,' he added.

'And young Séan Hughes, I want to mention him, 14 years old in the middle of the field. We were putting him on a chap on the Wexford Minor panel this summer and he more than matched his man,' he said.

Kevin Morris says that the schools will now have to organise the Leinster semi-final themselves as Leinster GAA don't organise beyond the South Leinster decider but that it should be happening in the coming weeks.

There was one man that Kevin Morris could go without mentioning and that was his partner in crime, the Cagney to his Lacey, his Starsky to Hutch, the Podge to his Rodge.

'There's one man definitely needs a mention in this and that's Pat Nolan, I couldn't do any of this without him.

'Pat keeps the lads calm, and maybe keeps me calm as well. In some ways we're opposites. I'm the kind of fiery one and Pat keeps it calm. I'de have huge repsect for what Pat would do and Joan Lancaster, Anthony Holly, Denis Finn. And nthen you've younger lads coming in, Conor Lambert, Bob Fitz.

'They're the lads who are pushing the whole thing,' he added.

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