St. Mary's C.B.S. 0-13 Banagher C.S. 1-5
A defence as determined as they were skilful formed the solid foundation on which this Top Oil Rest of Leinster Schools Senior hurling 'B' semi-final win over Banagher Community School was built by St. Mary's C.B.S. (Enniscorthy) in Jenkinstown on Wednesday.
C.B.S. will now take on Coláiste Choilm (Tullamore) who defeated Coláiste Mhuire of Johnstown by 1-12 to 1-9 in Ratheniska on Saturday.
With heavy underfoot conditions, grit and a positive attitude contributed to this win as much as the skill and speed, although none of the latter two attributes were in any way lacking.
Played in very wintry, windswept conditions on the Conahy Shamrocks ground, the game opened very brightly for Banagher, with a goal and a point on the board within three minutes from dangerous full-forward Nathan Earner.
However, after that shaky start, the C.B.S. opened their shoulders and largely blunted the sharpness of the Banagher attack.
Points from Chris Lawless, Craig Foley and Niall Parker closed the gap considerably by midway through the half.
A long-range point from Banagher's Graham Mullery halted the C.B.S. progress, but with the half-back line of Craig Foley, Micheál Gahan and Mick Delaney hurling to their optimum, the opportunities for Banagher scores were becoming few and far between.
Meanwhile, with Jack Reck and Pádraig Walsh at midfield fighting for every ball, the C.B.S. forwards were putting the midlanders' defence under considerable pressure, most frequently resulting in the defenders conceding frees.
This allowed Craig Foley to punish them with his unerring accuracy, putting over five points in succession, one from play.
Banagher were held scoreless for the second quarter, thus leaving the half-time score standing at 0-8 to 1-2 in favour of St. Mary's.
Craig Foley continued his accurate shooting for the Slaneysiders from early in the second-half, putting over his first point in the first minute.
Conditions underfoot didn't encourage fast, open hurling but frequently led to scrummages, resulting in repeated throw-ins.
Nevertheless, both sides contested the outcome one hundred per cent, with the C.B.S. defence having the upper hand of the struggle in their half.
The tenacity, skill and never-say-die attitude of C.B.S. full-back, the tall, rangy Mike Kelly from Oylegate-Glenbrien, was a stand-out feature.
Jack Reck and Pádraig Walsh kept the ball moving forward, despite both of them coming in for some unwelcome attention from their opposite numbers.
The final ten minutes were tense and close, with only three points between the sides for most of that period. Tackles were bone-crunching, with both sides prepared to go to the limit for the victory.
Banagher were chasing the game, but were meeting with little success despite their football-like charges upfield.
At the other end, with continuous pressure from St. Mary's trio Jack Roche, Eanna Doyle and Niall Parker, the men from the Faithful county were forced to concede frees from which Craig Foley made no mistake, sending over two vital points in the closing minutes.
St. Mary's came through this tempering experience with flags flying. They were slow to get into their full stride, threatened with being swamped in the opening minutes.
However, when they settled into their game, they showed the character and spirit which has got them this far in the championship.
Having overcome F.C.J. (Bunclody), Gorey C.S., Abbey C.S. (Ferrybank) and Mountrath C.S. in the earlier stages, C.B.S. are now within 60 minutes of playing in a Leinster final.
St. Mary's C.B.S.: Kevin Cosgrave (Oylegate-Glenbrien); Rory Scallan (Ferns St. Aidan's), Mike Kelly (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Tomás Cosgrave (Oylegate-Glenbrien); Craig Foley (Rapparees, 0-10, 9 frees), Micheál Gahan (Monageer-Boolavogue), Mick Delaney (Rapparees); Pádraig Walsh (Monageer-Boolavogue), Jack Reck (Oylegate-Glenbrien); Jack Roche (Oulart-The Ballagh), Eanna Doyle (Cloughbawn), David Mernagh (Monageer-Boolavogue); Chris Lawless (Oulart-The Ballagh, 0-2), Niall Parker (Oylegate-Glenbrien, 0-1), Conor Nolan (Oylegate-Glenbrien). Subs. - Liam Flood (Cloughbawn) for Gahan, inj., Jack Doyle (Rapparees) for Mernagh, also Rob Foley (Oulart-The Ballagh), William Doyle (Rapparees), Gavin Murphy (Rapparees), James Flood (Cloughbawn), Cian Wickham (Ballyhogue), Kyle Murphy (Cloughbawn), Mark Quigley (Marshalstown-Castledockrell).
Banagher C.S.: Ciarán Flynn; Cillian Troy, Conor Butler, Seán Hanamy; Daire Dolan, Luke O'Connor (0-1 free), Brian Rigney; Dylan Duane, Graham Mullery (0-1); Darrel Gaughan, James Lyons, Darragh Kelly; Mark Kennedy, Nathan Earner (1-3, 0-2 frees), Barry Moylan.