Scintillating St Brendan’s Killarney see off Bandon to set up Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final with Mercy Mounthawk

With the all-Kerry semi-final scheduled for this Saturday, The Sem manager Kieran Herlihy doesn’t want his team playing a Munster semi-final three days after their quarter-final win

Alex Hennigan scored two goals in St Brendan's College's Corn Uí Mhuirí quarter-final win over Hamilton High School, Bandon

Jimmy DarcyKerryman


St. Brendans, Killarney 2-16

Hamilton HS, Bandon 0-11

St Brendan’s College Killarney and Hamiltom High School Bandon played an absolute thriller of a Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final last year, and a gripping first half contest in Thursday afternoon’s quarter-final in Banteer had all the makings of another one. But a blistering second half display by The Sem, which will have made plenty sit up and take notice, saw the Killarney school ease to an 11-point victory to set up a semi-final clash with fellow Kerry contenders Mercy Mounthawk, whom they defeated in the O’Sullivan Cup final earlier in the school year.

That all-Kerry Corn Ui Mhuirí semi-final clash is currently scheduled for this Saturday, but St. Brendans manager Kieran Herlihy is understandably hopeful of it being moved back at least a few days.

“I have three players just back from injury in Cian Lynch, Charlie Keating, and Luke Crowley, and I don’t want them playing another hard game in just three days time,” Herlihy told The Kerryman after his team’s win in Banteer. “I don’t think that’s really fair or safe on players. My understanding is that Bandon wouldn’t have been able to fulfil that fixture anyway because of a clash with the Munster Colleges B Hurling Final, so I’m hoping that the Munster Council will be reasonable and move it back, especially when there is room in the calendar, with the final taking place on February 11.”

The first half set the tone for an enthralling battle between two top quality sides. Olan Corcoran was deftly robbed by Jamie Moynihan just as he was about to pull the trigger, while the outstanding Charlie Keating set up John Kelliher for St Brendan’s first scoring effort, but the ball trailed just wide of the post. It fell to Bandon’s lively Michael Maguire to open the scoring from a tight angle.

Luke Crowley, just back from injury, was always dangerous on the edge of the square and he won and converted a free. More good work by Charlie Keating saw Keelan O’Shea send in a beautiful pass for Callum Cronin to take and score a mark. Olan Corcoran was narrowly wide at the other end, but playmaker Adam Casey fetched the kick-out and exchanged a one-two before splitting the posts for 0-2 apiece. Corcoran deftly added another himself to nudge Bandon ahead.

Charlie Keating on the burst won a free slotted over by Luke Crowley, but Niall Kelly replied with a real beauty and James Williams had to show great awareness to intercept a very dangerous pass from Seán Mac an tSaoí to Michael Maguire. St Brendan’s probably had a slight edge in possession at this stage, but were struggling to pierce Bandon’s sweeper system, while the Bandon forwards always looked very dangerous. Mac an tSaoí gathered from Adam Casey to put them two in front.

Good work by Callum Cronin found Luke Crowley, who went for goal when a point might have been the wiser option, with Eoin McSweeney gathering well. St Brendan’s were on top now, but Alex Hennigan was denied by a good block from Conor O’Sullivan and Aodhan O’Neill had a chance drop short – a tricky wind wasn’t doing the the Killarney students any favours.

At last a great intercept by Timmy Moynihan saw Callum Cronin double his own tally before he sent a great pass to Luke Crowley for an equaliser. Michael Maguire nudged Bandon back in front, but the Sem were getting on top now. Luke Crowley won and duly dispatched another free before Charlie Keating set up Cronin for a score to make the half-time score St. Brendans 0-7 Hamilton HS 0-6.

If the first half was a close and hard-fought affair, the third quarter couldn’t even be described as a contest. With those three St Brendan’s three players – Cian Lynch, Charlie Keating, and Luke Crowley – back from injury and all hitting top gear, along with the dominance of John Kelliher in the middle third, The Sem took complete control, and they had their shooting boots on now.

Timmy Moynihan finished off a great team move with a point. Aodhán O’Neill pounced sharply on the kick-out and teed up Luke Crowley for another. The Sem landed a real knock-out blow when Alex Hennigan’s pace took him past an unwary defence to exchange a one-two with Crowley and find the net to make it double scores, 1-9 to 0-6.

The truth is that Bandon were a pale shadow of themselves in this quarter, with the loss of full back Sean Ahern to injury really throwing them off their stride. The Sem, on the other hand, were sharp, decisive, and ravenous for the ball. Aodhán O’Neill swung over a great kick from distance. John Kelliher added two more. Timmy Moynihan kicked his second, as did Aodhán O’Neill.

In fairness, Bandon did have one superb player who showed brilliant defiance, with Olan Corcoran kicking their first score of the half in the 49th minute. He quickly added another before converting two frees. St. Brendans were hardly likely to panic with a seven-point lead, though, and John Kelliher killed off any lingering doubts with his third score of the day. Mac an tSaoí did get in to blast a rocket towards the St. Brendans goal but was denied by a majestic block by an alert Cian Lynch.

Luke Crowley picked off another free before the Sem finished with a real flourish, Alex Hennigan chasing a good through ball from John Kelliher and neatly flicking it past the helpless goalkeeper to leave them comfortably ahead at the final whistle.

ST BRENDAN’S KILLARNEY: Shay O’Meara, Maidhcí Lynch, Cian Lynch, James Williams, Charlie Keating, Keelan O’Shea, Seán Fitzgerald, John Kelliher (0-3), Darren Ryan, Timmy Moynihan (0-2), Aodhán O’Neill (0-2), Jamie Moynihan, Callum Cronin 0-3 (1m), Luke Crowley 0-6 (4f), Alex Hennigan (2-0). Subs: Eoghan Kelly for C Keating (45 mins), Cillian Courtney for J Moynihan (51 mins), Pádraic Moynihan for T Moynihan (57 mins), Cian O’Carroll for Darren Ryan (59 mins)

HAMILTON HS BANDON: Eoin McSweeney, Brian Lordan, Seán Ahern, Ruairí O’Donovan, James Burrows, Conor O’Sullivan, Jack Calnan, Cian Johnson, Jonathan O’Leary, Adam Casey, Niall Kelly (0-1), Paul Kelly, Michael Maguire (0-2), Olan Corcoran 0-6 (3f), Sean Mac an tSaoí (0-1). Subs: Jack Cullinane for S Ahern (20 mins), Hugh O’Mahony for P Kelly (40 mins), Kevin Dart O’Flynn for A Casey (45 mins)

Referee: Jonathan Hayes (Limerick)