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Eoin up for a final fling

Coláiste Eoin produced a composed performance to progress to the Leinster Colleges SF 'A' Final after a battling 1-8 to 1-6 semi-final victory over an ill-disciplined Ardscoil na Tríonóide, Athy in Blessington last Saturday afternoon.

In a high-intensity but low-scoring tie, Colásite Eoin were indebted to the free-taking of Colm Mac Gearailt, with the Kerry native kicking six crucial placed balls over the hour.

In addition, goalkeeper Daniel Ó Caoimh made two superb saves, the latter deep into injury-time in the second-half to deny Kildare minor star Darragh Mulhall, while ahead him, Aran Ó Murchú once again gave a near flawless template of effective centre-back play.

With nerves a contributing factor to an uneasy start on both sides, it was the Stillorgan side who settled sooner and two Mac Gearailt frees inside the opening five minutes were just reward for their early dominance.


A Mulhall free on seven minutes looked to have becalmed the Athy school but within a minute an ill-judged challenge by their goalkeeper Padraig Walsh on Brian Ó Murchú belied that impression and corner-back Dara Ó hAodha hammered the resultant penalty beyond Walsh to open up a healthy four-point lead for the Gaelscoil.

With Ardscoil on the ropes, Eoin looked to press home their lead but they lacked the precision of their early attacks, with Mark Schutte and Mac Gearailt guilty of poor wides prior to their battling opponents working their way back into contention.

Three unanswered points, two from Niall Kelly and the other from John Lawlor arrived as the game became increasingly fractious with both sets of players involved in petty off-the-ball exchanges as referee Damien Brazil issued yellow cards to two players from either side.

Coláiste Eoin, vitally, regained their composure with half-time approaching and two further Mac Gearailt frees in addition to a superb point from substitute Alex Ó Maoilmhiaigh helped restore their four-point lead (1-5 to 0-4) at the interval.

With Tríonóide's centre-back Tony Gibbons becoming progressively influential after the break, Coláiste Eoin began to sit back further allowing their opponents to seize the initiative and from one of numerous breaks, Gibbons kicked a glorious point on 38 minutes to leave just a goal between the sides. However, their dominance was undermined by questionable shot selection and an outstanding Ó Caoimh save from Mulhall after Jamie Farrell had carved the Gaelscoil's rearguard open.

It proved Farrell's last positive contribution as he was shown the line for an unnecessary challenge on Donal Sutcliffe after 47 minutes and Mac Gearailt popped over another free soon after as the pendulum swung back in favour of the Dublin school.

Ardscoil weren't finished, however, and Gibbons rejoined the attack to great effect on 54 minutes as his low shot avoided Ó Caoimh's despairing dive to leave just a point between the sides and the prospect of extra-time a distinct possibility.

It wasn't required in the end, though, as Brian Ó Murchú calmly slotted over only Coláiste Eoin's second score from play a minute later and although Cian Reynolds replied for Ardscoil, Mac Gearailt kicked an insurance free entering injury-time.

It was left to Ó Caoimh to confirm their progression to the final with an unorthodox save from Mulhall with virtually the last kick of the game as Coláiste Eoin nervously held on for a deserved two-point victory.

Scorers -- Coláiste Eoin: C Mac Gearailt 0-6 (6f), D Ó hAodha 1-0 (pen), A Ó Maoilmhiaigh, B Ó Murchú 0-1 each.

Ardscoil na Tríonóide: T Gibbons 1-1, N Kelly 0-2 (1f), J Lawlor, D Mulhall (f), C Reynolds 0-1 each.

Coláiste Eoin: D Ó Caoimh; S Ó Seasnáin, E Ó Loinsigh, D Ó hAodha; G Ó Fógartaigh, A Ó Murchú, J Mac Cionnaith; J Mac Suibhne, D Sutcliffe; M Schutte, P Ó Dálaigh, C Mac Gearlait; B Ó Murchú, S Mac Craith, P Ó Fógartaigh. Subs: A Ó Maoilmhiaigh for Mac Suibhne (26-31), Ó Maoilmhiaigh for Ó Dálaigh (40).

Ardscoil na Tríonóide, Athy: P Walsh; B Purcell, L Thomas, D O'Toole; D Hyland, T Gibbons, B Kenna; K Feely, J Farrell; L McGovern, C Reynolds, J Lawlor; S Doyle, N Kelly, D Mulhall.

Subs: K Bolger for Doyle (47), M Behan for O'Toole (54).

Referee: Damien Brazil (Offaly).