Six-minute sucker punch ends Bridgetown bid
St. Fergal's 4-12 Bridgetown V.C. 1-9
Bridgetown Vocational College were hit by a six-minute sucker punch after the break as St. Fergal's (Rathdowney) comfortably advanced to the final of the Top Oil Leinster Schools Senior hurling 'C' championship with a 4-12 to 1-9 victory at a bright but blustery Carlow Town Hurling Club.
In fact, the Laois school looked to be there for the taking when Bridgetown had pulled to within 2-6 to 1-7 by half-time with an unanswered run of 1-5 from the 18th minute onwards.
But whatever was said in the confines of the Rathdowney dressing-room during the interval clearly had its desired outcome as they played with a renewed pep in the step to put paid to Bridgetown's determined challenge thereafter.
Stylish centre-forward Christopher Rafter began the siege when he made an incision through the heart of the defence to feed Gavin Delaney who in turn drove low to the bottom corner of the net, while Michael Shortt caught the puck-out that followed and returned it with interest over the bar as the gap suddenly swelled to 3-7 to 1-7.
Thep Fitzpatrick converted his second long-range free of the day in the 34th minute before Rafter showed some neat individual skill to lift and strike to the net less than two minutes later.
His opposite number, Kyle Kennedy, pegged a point back for Bridgetown but they really needed a goal to give themselves a chance and didn't fashion anything clearcut to ask questions of their opponents from the midlands.
Their frustrations threatened to boil over on occasion in the final quarter as St. Fergal's cutely played down the clock, and the leaders nevertheless outscored Bridgetown 3-1 before the end to cap a good day's work.
The narrative of the first quarter more or less played out in a similar pattern to the third as the eventual winners had compiled 2-5 by the 16th minute.
Their first goal arrived via Cillian Maher when he beat his man on the second attempt before lashing home on five minutes, and the same player was celebrating again when a free from Rafter hit the post and the ball was re-cycled to the menacing full-forward.
But Bridgetown then embarked on a heartening comeback trail, with Reece Broaders knocking over some wind-assisted frees, and his colleague Darragh Furlong doing likewise from just to the left of his centre-back berth.
Kennedy played a crucial part in the goal that altered the complexion of the game two minutes shy of half-time when he made inroads before Jordan Hayes eventually turned it home to really give Bridgetown some hope ahead of the second-half.
But that was shortlived as St. Fergal's exploded back into life to deny a gallant attempt from the south county school, who counted among their mentors Wexford legend Redmond Barry.
Bridgetown Vocational College: Jake Doyle (Kilmore); Dean Corish (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's), Andrew Walsh (St. Anne's, capt.), Eoin Goff (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's); Barry Roche (St. Anne's), Darragh Furlong (St. Anne's, 0-1 free), Gary Sinnott (St. Anne's); Kevin Breen (St. Anne's), Páraic Reville (Kilmore); Criostóir Reville (Kilmore), Kyle Kennedy (St. Anne's, 0-3), Aaron Hanley (Taghmon-Camross); Reece Broaders (St. Mary's Rosslare, 0-5 frees), Dylan O'Brien (St. Anne's), Jordan Hayes (St. Martin's, 1-0). Subs. - Jake Walsh (St. Anne's) for Goff (35), Karim Byrne (St. Anne's) for Sinnott (58), Jack Meyler (St. Mary's, Rosslare) for Hayes (58).
St. Fergal's (Rathdowney): Cathal Dunne; Niall Coss, Dylan Delaney, Oisín Campion; Dylan Doyle (0-1), Thep Fitzpatrick (0-3, 2 frees, 1 '65), Ben Delaney; Diarmuid Conway (capt., 0-1), Kevin Mulhall; Michael Shortt (0-1), Christopher Rafter (1-3, 0-2 frees), Evan Hawkes (0-1); Mark Hennessy, Cillian Maher (2-0), Gavin Delaney (1-2).
Referee: Dave Coady (Kildare).
New Ross Standard