A brave second-half Coláiste Eoin comeback proved in vain as they finally succumbed to Kilkenny CBS by 3-15 to 2-16 in a cracking Leinster Colleges SH 'A' semi-final played in Athy yesterday afternoon.
The Booterstown Gaelscoil will have to content themselves with a place in the football decider early next month but the disappointment at coming so close to emulating the big ball exponents will compound their devastation after falling at the penultimate hurdle.
Ultimately, it was the concession of three superbly taken goals from corner-forward Peter Vickery that proved their undoing and, although they managed to recover from two of his opportunistic efforts, his third after 10 minutes of extra-time provided the knockout blow.
Coláiste Eoin, perhaps showing their more illustrious opponents too much respect, made a sluggish start and, although Seán Mac Craith opened the scoring on three minutes with a 65, they were punished for their initial lethargy with Matthew Holohan, Conor Kenny and Ollie Walsh all knocking over long-range points for CBS.
Their situation deteriorated after 13 minutes when Cathal Kenny's solo run was taken on by namesake Conor Kenny and his shot was parried by Eoin Daltúin, with Vickery quickest to react to bury home the rebound.
Two Mac Craith frees kept Coláiste Eoin in the hunt as they began to enjoy a decent amount of possession, with Donal Sutcliffe and Jude Mac Suibhne particularly prominent, and, after Stephen Farrell and Mac Craith exchanged frees, Alex Pilkington knocked over a glorious point after 23 minutes to register the Dublin side's first point from play.
However, CBS upped the ante approaching half-time and four successive points from Brian Kennedy, Cathal Kenny, Gary Gaule and another from Kenny ensured they entered the break seven points (1-9 to 0-5) to the good.
Another Mac Craith free early in the second-half briefly raised Coláiste Eoin's spirits but they suffered a serious setback when an innocuous looking ball from Gaule deceived Daltúin and Vickery, who showed impeccable timing throughout, was on hand to sweep into an empty net.
Walsh added a superb point from the resultant puck-out to leave 10 points between the sides, and the game looked over as a contest despite another Mac Craith free and a Mark Schutte point which briefly reduced the Dublin school's seemingly insurmountable deficit.
Vickery, apparently bored with goals at this stage, added a tidy point to extend the gap to nine points prior to Coláiste Eoin producing an inspired ensuing 15 minutes in which they hit an unanswered 2-4 to turn the game on its head.
The catalyst for their comeback was a 20-metre free from Mac Craith which ripped into the net on 40 minutes and, with the defence tightening up with Sutcliffe, Jesse Ó Cinnéide and Brian Ó Murchú all excelling, their hurling was a contrast to their timid first-half showing.
With substitute Dónal Ó Gormlaí having a huge influence in the middle third, Coláiste Eoin narrowed the gap further with points from Aran Ó Murchú, Seán Ó Móráin and Oisín Ó Ruairc before Schutte embarked on a run from midfield, leaving defenders in his wake, before lofting the ball over full-back Anthony Forristal to crash home first-time from 10 metres.
Points from Ó Ruairc and Mac Craith had the Gaelscoil briefly ahead, but scores from Farrell and the excellent Cathal Kenny pushed CBS in front entering injury-time. But Ó Ruairc showed extreme promise in the nerveless manner he popped over a last-gasp 65 to ensure the sides finished level at 2-14 apiece.
Deprived of the injured Mac Craith and showing signs of fatigue, Coláiste Eoin struggled in extra-time and Vickery pounced for an opportunistic goal at the end of the first period. And although Sutcliffe pointed two frees it proved too little too late as CBS held on for a two-point win and a final date with near neighbours St Kieran's.
Scorers -- Kilkenny CBS: P Vickery 3-1, S Farrell 0-4 (3f), Cathal Kenny 0-3, O Walsh, Conor Kenny 0-2, G Gaule, M Holohan, B Kennedy 0-1 each. Coláiste Eoin: S Mac Craith 1-7 (1-6 f, '65'), M Schutte 1-1, O Ó Ruairc 0-3 (1 '65'), D Sutcliffe 0-2 (f, '65'), A Ó Murchú, A Pilkington, S Ó Móráin 0-1 each.
Kilkenny CBS: E Burke; J Lynch, A Forristal, S Cassin; O McGrath, R Doyle, G Gaule; O Walsh, M Holohan; Cathal Kenny, Conor Kenny, S Glynn; P Vickery, S Farrell, B Kennedy. Subs: C Roche for Cassin (40), P Moore for Glynn (40), Glynn for Holohan (75).
Coláiste Eoin: E Daltún; F MacGabhann, B Ó Murchú, J Mac Cionnaith; J Ó Cinnéide, D Sutcliffe, E Ó Loinsigh; J Mac Suibhne, E Ó Braonáin; A Ó Murchú, M Schutte, A Pilkington; S Ó Móráin, S Mac Craith, O Ó Ruairc. Subs: D Ó Gormlai for Ó Braonáin (half-time), S Mac Aoidh for Mac Craith (61), E Ó Dochartaigh for Mac Aoidh (70).
Referee: John Lawlor (Laois).