A FRUSTRATING first-half that left them 16 points adrift at the break proved too much for Good Counsel as, despite an excellent recovery they were unable to rein in a skilful Mullingar CBS side in this Leinster Schools first year ‘A’ football final in Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow on Monday.
Counsel struggled with their game through the opening 30 minutes as the midlanders held a decisive midfield advantage. And with the Westmeath forwards clinical in front of goal, they punished every indiscretion in the New Ross side’s defence.
Good Counsel looked a much more organised and composed outfit on the resumption, so much so that the final scoreline does not do them justice.
One of their goalbound shots crashed off the underside of the crossbar, while desperate defending by the Mullingar defence saw them clear two further efforts off the line.
The New Ross lads were left to rue that opening half when they allowed the eventual winners – who had first advantage of the slight breeze – far too much space in which to create their scoring opportunities.
Good Counsel were rocked right back on their heels as early as the fourth minute when the Mullingar centre-forward, Will Scahill, was allowed space and time to carry the ball through the centre of the defence before finishing with a fine shot to the corner of the net.
With the pressure increasing, Pádraig Monaghan added a point, to be followed by a ninth-minute goal from fine midfielder Aaron Connaire, leaving them with a 2-1 to nil lead.
Good Counsel missed out on a couple of scoring opportunities in their isolated counter-attacks through wayward finishing. Mullingar kicked over some fine points, and they went on to add further goals through Pádraig Monaghan and Darragh Riordan to lead by 4-6 to nil after 28 minutes.
Good Counsel managed to finish the opening period with points from James Reburn and Seán Hanrahan to trail by 4-6 to 0-2 at the interval.
In fairness to the Barrowside boys, they raised their game on the resumption as Pádraig Devereux and Seán Hanrahan began to win more midfield possession, while Seán O’Brien and James Reburn were becoming a consistent threat in attack.
Within 60 seconds of the restart, O’Brien saw his low left-footed shot drift across goal and go just wide, but within a further two minutes they got their opening goal when Reburn blasted to the net from 14 metres.
Seán O’Brien followed with two points, one from a free, with Darragh Riordan managing one in between for the opposition.
Despite their best efforts which saw goal attempts from O’Brien and Reburn cleared off the line, Counsel were still trailing by 5-10 to 1-5 at the end of the third quarter. O’Brien then created space and finished with a great shot high into the corner of the net, and he followed with two further pointed frees to reduce the deficit to 5-11 to 2-8.
In this period of supremacy full-forward Reburn saw a dipping shot that looked destined for goal rebound off the underside of the bar, with Leon Whitty pointing in the follow-up.
While Good Counsel produced a fine second-half display, they were left to regret that opening period that left themselves with a real mountain to climb.
Good Counsel: Kyle Murphy; Tom McDonald, James Furlong, Daniel Blyth; Seán Óg Murphy, Joe McCarthy, Ciarán Cummins; Pádraig Devereux, Seán Hanrahan (0-2); Jack Furlong (0-1), Seán O’Brien (1-4, 0-3 frees), Lee Whitty (0-1); Kevin Whelan, James Reburn (1-2), Barry Furlong. Subs. - Michael O’Sullivan for B. Furlong, also Ben Chapman, Billy Martin, Conor Kehoe, Eoin Rice, Jake Sutton, James Furlong, Liam Murphy, Luke Vereker, Michael Sydney, Patrick Dunleavy, Sam Bolger, Tristan Martin-Newsome, T.J. Currid.
Mullingar CBS: Seamus O’Brien; Seán Hickey, Jimmy Ryan, Tristan Jordan; Cian O’Mara, Zak Coyne, Jake O’Brien (0-1); Aaron Connaire (0-3), Conor Casey; Seán Byrne, Will Scahill (1-4, 0-4 frees), Ted Aherne (0-1); Conor Meleady (0-1), Pádraig Monaghan (2-1), Darragh Riordan (2-1).
Referee: Eamonn Kelly (Kildare).