Late winner signals final disappointment for SPSL Rathmore

All-Ireland Schools SFC 'B' (Paddy Drummond Cup) Final: SPSL Rathmore 1-11 Roscommon CBS 1-12

Jason O'Connor

Mixed feelings arguably at the final whistle of a crazy finish. Roscommon CBS were the better side in cold analysis, but no one would have begrudged Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra Rathmore extra-time for the way they came back in the last 10 minutes of the second-half. Especially so when the game appeared to be over at the three-quarter mark.

If SPSL had won, it would have been off the back of the strength of their defending in the first period as they were well marshalled by full-back Alan Dineen in particular, the no.3 preventing Roscommon CBS from accruing three goal chances in the first period. Ultimately, with the breeze, the East Kerry school failed to get enough of an advantage on the scoreboard to cope with a strong CBS surge after half-time. Anthony Darmody was having a strong game around the middle as their opponents were leaving scoring chances after them through a combination of the breeze and SPSL's tenacity.

Rathmore led by 0-3 to 0-2 after the first quarter but did manage to double their scoring total soon as a David Dineen free and points from Eoghan Rahilly made it 0-6 to 0-2 approaching half-time.

CBS's Cian Murray scored their first score in 18 minutes before the break, however. Indeed, it was almost a foreboding of the contribution of the same player amongst others to CBS' much changed threat with the elements in their favour despite SPSL captain Owen Fitzgerald making another important interception before the short whistle was blown.

It took only 30 seconds for Roscommon to get on the scoreboard in the second-half, Liam Ormsby putting over a free. They were ahead for the first time by the 33rd minute with two points from eventual Man-of-the-Match Keith Doyle, a Ciaran Lawless effort and a second point from Murray making it 0-8 to 0-6 after 36 minutes.

Darragh Rahilly did get Rathmore on the board for the second period but it looked to be slipping away from Rathmore in the 41st minute when a ball slipped through their path and into corner-forward Jack McGahon's hands as he laid off to Cian Murray for a low finish past Ian O'Connor and what appeared a commanding 1-10 to 0-7 advantage.

David Dineen did put over another free in the 44th minute but it was only with a lengthy delay for an injury to CBS centre-back Jack Lohan that SPSL had a chance to gather themselves and take advantage of the tempo of the game being slowed down somewhat. Darragh Rahilly gained possession of the ball into the 54th minute and both Anthony Darmody and David Dineen were involved into the move that saw substitute Aaron Cronin around the Hill 16 goalmouth and somehow find a way passed a packed Roscommon CBS defence for a goal and 1-10 to 1-8 scoreline.

A lengthy period of additional time was to be expected as two further frees from Dineen made it 1-10 apiece after 57 minutes. Lawless put over a free on the stroke of 60 to give Roscommon a one-point lead again although with eight minutes to be added on anything could still happen. Dineen's sixth and final free in the sixth of those additional minutes looked like producing extra-time as matters started to get frantic for both.

Instead of playing for extra-time, Roscommon pushed for a winner and they got it thanks to the composure of their full-forward James Fitzpatrick in putting over the winning score of a see-saw encounter to say the least.

There was no guarantees that the result would have been any different had SPSL managed to get two additional periods of 10 minutes, but it would have been a fair award for their bravery in battling back from six points down with the game seemingly out of sight.

The honour of being the first Kerry school to reach the Paddy Drummond Final as a Hogan Cup curtain-raiser is still theirs though as four years after losing the 2015 Hogan Cup decider to Pobalscoil Corcha Dhuibhne, Roscommon CBS were able to get the better of another Kingdom outfit a grade lower this time.

SPSL Rathmore: Ian O'Connor (Rathmore); Patrick Brosnan (Gneeveguilla), Alan Dineen (Rathmore), Damien Cronin (Gneeveguilla); Eoghan O'Rahilly (Gneeveguilla) 0-1, Owen Fitzgerald (Gneeveguilla), Paul O'Leary (Gneeveguilla); Ronan Collins (Gneeveguilla), Sean O'Keeffe(Gneeveguilla), Anthony Darmody (Rathmore), Dan Murphy (Rathmore), Darragh Rahilly (Rathmore) 0-1; Cathal Ryan (Rathmore) 0-2 (1f), David Dineen (Rathmore) 0-6f, Denis O'Connor (Knocknagree) 0-1. Subs: James Darmody (Rathmore) for Eoghan O'Rahilly, Aaron Cronin (Rathmore) 1-0 for O'Leary.

Roscommon CBS: Gustavo Rodrigues; James Browne, Colin Walsh, John Martin; Cian Glennon, Jack Lohan, Cian Murray 1-2; Albert Looby 0-1, Keith Doyle 0-2; Tim Lambe, Ciaran Lawless 0-2 (1f), Richard Walsh; Liam Ormsby 0-4 (3f), James Fitzpatrick, Jack McGahon. Subs: Charlie Carthy for Richard Walsh, Orin Walsh for Lohan.

Referee: Martin McNally (Monaghan)


The Game in 60 seconds

Main man

When Keith Doyle got a grip on the game at midfield for CBS it was hard to argue with him getting the official Man-of-the-Match award but if SPSL Rathmore had managed to win Alan Dineen would have been a deserving winner for his defensive prowess not just on Saturday but during the campaign for them.

Key moment

David McCarthy reflected on a period for Roscommon CBS after half-time where they outscored SPSL 1-7 to 0-2 until the three-quarter mark as being decisive and its hard to disagree with such a view as there was no real scoring chance when the game was in the melting point that SPSL left after them.

Talking Point

Strange that both Schools Finals finished with the same scoreline of 1-12 to 1-11, St Michaels Enniskillen defeating Pobalscoil Corcha Dhuibhne's conquerors Naas CBS in the Hogan Cup Final afterwards. Should all All-Ireland Schools Finals be played in Croke Park regardless of grade? Might be something worth considering in terms of promoting Post-Primary GAA better.