St. Kieran's 2-13 St. Peter's 2-8
The denizens of St. Peter’s College holding the game of hurling close to their hearts must be thoroughly sick of the sight of the black and white St. Kieran’s jersey at this stage.
Saturday’s Top Oil Leinster Schools Corn Uí Dhúill Senior hurling ‘A’ championship semi-final in St. Patrick’s Park, Enniscorthy, had an all too familiar pattern as the Summerhill side’s nemesis maintained the indian sign over their long-time rivals.
St. Peter’s were competitive until the end, although they never looked like closing the gap after an unanswered 1-4 from the Noresiders in the 19 minutes after half-time put them emphatically in the driving seat.
The goal that kick-started that dominance will haunt the losers, because it was fashioned from such an unlikely situation.
St. Peter’s had matched the All-Ireland finalists of the last four years, and three-in-a-row champions from 2014 to 2016, every step of the way before the break, with the sides deadlocked at the change of ends (1-6 each).
The game started to swing in the direction of the favourites just 49 seconds into the new half after a throw-in directly in front of the Peter’s goal was seized upon with glee by the best-known Kieran’s forward.
Somehow Adrian Mullen managed to dribble the sliothar hockey-style before forcing it home from close range, but it was a very soft and sloppy goal to concede.
And St. Kieran’s had extended their lead to 2-9 to 1-6 by the 41st minute, with Mullen setting up David O’Carroll for a point before Eoin Cody added a brace from placed balls.
St. Peter’s had their chances all the same, with Ross Banville missing a couple of frees after accounting for an impressive 1-5 of their first-half tally, including 1-2 from play.
Kieran’s also came close to a goal when a David O’Carroll effort was scrambled to safety after a timely intervention by full-back Ben Maddock.
The big moment of the second period arrived midway through when Ben Stafford was taken down on a solo run by Diarmuid Phelan as he raced goalwards.
Ross Banville stepped up to the penalty but luck wasn’t on his side as he blasted the ball off the right-hand post before Kieran’s cleared their lines.
A goal at that stage would have given the challengers a huge lift, but it wasn’t to be as Adrian Mullen added a point before Ben Stafford finally registered the first Peter’s score after the interval - a neat over the shoulder point in the 51st minute (2-10 to 1-7).
Mullen seemed to get away with a blatant throw when he off-loaded to Eoin O’Shea for the next Kieran’s point, with Dylan Lyne making a good block on a goal attempt from Eoin Cody before Banville knocked over his sole second-half free.
Mullen responded from a placed ball, prior to Peter’s pouncing for a consolation goal at the end of the second of the five added minutes played.
A Banville free was batted out by netminder Dean Mason, and Jake Nobbs was quickest to react as he first-timed to the net from close range (2-12 to 2-8).
Kieran’s created a golden goal chance immediately as Adrian Mullen raced through at the other end, but Dylan Lyne took one for the team and hauled him to the ground.
Retaliation from the attacker led to yellow cards for both and a throw-in, but Mullen did have the final say when he picked off a late point as Kieran’s advanced to a final clash with Dublin North.
The opening half had been an even contest after Peter’s recovered from a slow start, with midfielder Philip Dempsey leading the charge and Ross Banville making full use of his opportunities in an otherwise disappointing forward line.
Jake Nobbs - in for the suspended Cian Meyler - was the only one of the sextet to start in his position as per the programme, with number 10 Brian Deeny operating first at full-forward, while Ben Stafford was on the ’40.
The team started to improve when Conall Clancy, who was at right half-forward at the outset, moved to form an effective midfield pairing with the tenacious Dempsey.
Meanwhile, Peter’s had recognised the threat likely to come from Adrian Mullen by moving centre-back Michael Codd to the left flank to mark him.
Codd did more than his fair share of effective hurling against a high-calibre opponent, and he was prominent around the middle in the second-half when his strength under the dropping ball shone through.
Eoin Cody got Kieran’s off the mark after 43 seconds, taking the return pass on the left at the country end after playing a line ball to Jamie Young. Ross Banville replied, alert to the break off big Brian Deeny after Adam Cantwell dropped the sliothar into the danger zone.
The last thing Peter’s needed or wanted was to concede an early goal, but that’s exactly what happened in the fifth minute. Adrian Mullen made a defence- splitting run before handpassing to his right for full-forward David O’Carroll to rattle the net.
Mullen was lucky to escape without a yellow card for a frontal charge on Dylan Lyne before Kieran’s built on that tonic score, with his point followed by another from midfielder Eoin O’Shea (1-3 to 0-1).
A rare slip by impressive Kieran’s centre-back, Jesse Roberts, when he dropped a Peter’s delivery in the eleventh minute, was punished by Ross Banville who doubled his tally.
The rotation of the Peter’s forwards had started at this early stage, and captain Jack Devereux moved from midfield to the ’40 while Brian Deeny drifted out to the right wing, with Adam Cantwell slotting in at full-forward.
A Banville ’65 narrowed the gap to one goal before Philip Dempsey lifted the troops around him with a fine point from long range in the 16th minute (1-3 to 0-4).
Kieran’s had a sharper set of attackers, though, and captain Daithí Barron showed his quality with a fine brace of points in a mere 40 seconds.
The first was a beauty from tight to the right sideline. And when Jesse Roberts caught David Pettit’s resultant puck-out over Brian Deeny’s head, he drilled the ball down the left flank where Barron popped up on the opposite side of the field, plucking it from the air before splitting the posts.
A foul on Ben Stafford led to Ross Banville’s fourth point, and the equalising goal followed in the 23rd minute.
Philip Dempsey’s delivery was read expertly by Banville who caught the ball, turned, and cleverly batted it to the net Shane O’Donnell-style to avoid a possible hook (1-5 each).
Free-takers Eoin Cody and Banville exchanged points before the break, although it took a marvellous interception in between by Ben Maddock - cutting out an attemped Cody handpass to David O’Carroll - to prevent a near-certain second Kieran’s goal.
Whatever breeze advantage there was favoured the Kilkenny side on the re-start, and after that second goal went in early on they asserted their superiority.
They ended the encounter with eleven wides compared to five for Peter’s, while the losers were awarded 18 of the 28 frees by erratic referee Patrick Murphy who appeared to ignore some blatant fouls in the sticky underfoot conditions.
St. Peter’s: David Pettit (Our Lady’s Island); Dylan Lyne (Glynn-Barntown), Ben Maddock (St. Martin’s), Ryan Furlong (Faythe Harriers); Shane Doyle (Glynn-Barntown), Billy Dunne (Oulart-The Ballagh), Michael Codd (St. Martin’s); Jack Devereux (St. Martin’s, capt.), Philip Dempsey (St. Martin’s, 0-1); Conall Clancy (Faythe Harriers), Ben Stafford (St. Martin’s, 0-1), Jake Nobbs (Blackwater, 1-0); Ross Banville (Shelmaliers, 1-6, 0-3 frees, 0-1 ’65), Brian Deeny (Faythe Harriers), Adam Cantwell (St. Martin’s). Subs. - Cillian Gahan (Faythe Harriers) for Cantwell, temp. (43-44), Gahan for Deeny (58), also Jack Watters-Cosgrave (Shelmaliers), Conall O Crualaoich (Faythe Harriers), Eoin O’Neill (Blackwater), Dáire Reville (Faythe Harriers), Jack Fortune (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), Feidhlim Roche (Blackwater), Patrick O’Connor (Blackwater), Zac Firman (St. Martin’s), Sam Audsley (St. Martin’s), Peter Rowley (Oylegate-Glenbrien), Shane Walsh (St. Martin’s), Niall Hearne (Shelmaliers), Adam Hearne (Shelmaliers), Ethan Freeman (Oulart-The Ballagh), Jack O’Leary (St. Fintan’s), Darragh Howlin (Shelmaliers), Nathan O’Hanlon (Oulart-The Ballagh), Mark Power (Shelmaliers), Colm Kiely (Glynn-Barntown).
St. Kieran’s: Dean Mason; Tommy Ronan, Conor Murphy, Mark Nolan; Diarmuid Phelan, Jesse Roberts, Luke Murphy; Killian Egan, Eoin O’Shea (0-2); Adrian Mullen (1-4, 0-1 free), Jamie Young, Ian Walsh; Daithí Barron (capt., 0-2), David O’Carroll (1-1), Eoin Cody (0-4, 2 frees, 1 ’65). Subs. - George Murphy for Barron (48), Eoghan Moylan for Walsh (49), Ciarán Hogan for Cody (58), Jeffrey Coyne for O’Carroll (59).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).