ARDSCOIL RATH IOMGHAIN 6-16, DRIMNAGH CASTLE 2-4
Despite a promising opening to the game, Drimnagh Castle ultimately came off second best in Blessington yesterday afternoon, as a 2-9 haul from half-forward Jimmy Hyland comfortably secured the Leinster Schools Juvenile Football 'C' title for an impressive Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin.
However, though the final scoreline might suggest otherwise, the south Dublin side were well in the contest during the first quarter, as Hyland's second-minute point from play for the Rathangan school was followed up four minutes later by a soccer-style goal from Drimnagh's Craig O'Connor, which gave his side an early two-point cushion.
Corner-forward Dylan Hersee followed this up almost immediately with a fine score from close-in, before a terrific individual goal from Rath Iomgháin's Joe Breen brought parity to the proceedings 13 minutes in.
Drimnagh were proving to be dangerous whenever they crossed into the opposition '45', though, and industrious forward Adam Fitzpatrick bagged his school's second major when he finished clinically past Conor Mulligan after a long ball-in by half-back Kevin O'Grady.
With the breeze at their backs, it was hoped that Drimnagh would push on for the rest of the half, but instead it was Ardscoil who found that extra gear, as a quick 1-1 salvo from Breen restored the Kildare side's lead by the 20-minute mark.
Breen's second goal of the contest helped re-energise Rathangan's challenge, as three more points from Hyland and Breen (two) were added to by Hyland's first goal of the game with a minute of normal time remaining.
Liam O'Reilly did kick over a stoppage-time free for Drimnagh, but they faced a tough task in the second period, with Rath Iomgháin having built up a six-point lead (3-5 to 2-2).
Matters became even more ominous for the metropolitan outfit after the re-start, as a quick 1-2 blitz from Hyland increased Ardscoil's lead to 11 by the 33rd minute.
Corner-forward Aaran Tehan also got in on the act with a fifth goal from the next attack, and this would be followed by quick-fire scores from Hyland (three), Breen and Daragh Malone as the decider moved into the final 20 minutes of play.
With the result pretty much beyond doubt at this stage, Rathangan did take the foot off the gas somewhat, though they did make it a 26-point game by the 55th minute, courtesy of a brace of points from Shane O'Brien and Hyland, along with a goal from the former, finished emphatically past Drimnagh netminder Shaquille Khan from close-range.
To Drimnagh's eternal credit, they did continue to work hard until the very end, and they tagged on a couple of deserved scores through midfielder Dylan Murtagh and Daniel Kenny, but there was to be no denying a highly skilful and well-drilled Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin brigade.
Scorers -- Ardscoil Rath Iomgháin: J Hyland 2-9, J Breen 2-4 (0-2f), S O'Brien 1-2, A Tehan 1-0, D Malone 0-1. Drimnagh Castle: C O'Connor, A Fitzpatrick 1-0 each, D Murtagh, D Hersee, D Kenny (f), L O'Reilly (f) 0-1 each.
ARDSCOIL RATH IOMGHAIN: C Mulligan; C Jameson, A Bolger Hinds, S Gleenon; S Geoghegan, C O'Neill, D Dunne; E Sinnott, C Maher; J Hyland, P Maloney, J Breen; D Malone, S O'Brien, A Tehan. Subs: R O'Neill for Jameson, M Fitzsimons for Malone, E Bennett for Geoghegan (all 51mins), D Kelly for C O'Neill (58).
DRIMNAGH CASTLE: S Khan; D McCurtin, N McMahon, R Colgan; K O'Grady, C Murray, L Murray; S Williams, D Murtagh; D Kenny, L O'Neill, A Fitzpatrick, C O'Connor, JR Williams, D Hersee. Subs: P McDermott for O'Connor (50), E Doherty for Fitzpatrick (53), L Keane for Williams (58).
Referee: P Kehoe (Carlow).