Late Hughes point secures crown after thriller
Coláiste Bhríde 1-9
Coláiste Chraobh Abhann 1-8
A late rally from Coláiste Bhríde Carnew saw them get the better of Coláiste Chraobh Abhann in a thoroughly entertaining Wicklow Schools Senior ‘A’ football championship final played in Aughrim on Wednesday evening.
A moment of magic from Aughrim’s Joe McGuckian drew the sides level in what was a low-scoring encounter, but it was a late, pressure free-kick from Kilanerin’s Sean Hughes that sealed the deal in rapidly deteriorating conditions.
Heading into this battle, neutral observers would have been forgiven for suggesting that the Kilcoole outfit, managed by Gary Duffy, were looking slightly stronger on paper given the wealth of talent within their ranks, backboned it should be said by An Tóchar players including the Nolan brothers, JP and Matt, Jack Wolohan and Eanna Nolan along with quality footballers from Ashford, Newtown and Kilcoole.
However, it was clear from early on that any notion of a free-flowing, open game of football was misguided, with Coláiste Bhríde managing to frustrate and stifle the Coláiste Chraobh Abhann attack so much so that JP Nolan was held scoreless from play, due in no small part to the tenacity and talents of Coláiste Bhríde captain Tommy Collins at full-back.
Coláiste Bhríde, made up of players from Carnew Emmets, Tinahely, Shillelagh-Coolboy, Aughrim, Annacurra, Kilanerin and Craanford, came into this game with a plan and a drive to deliver same, and they were given a significant platform thanks to a superb display at midfield from Sean Hughes and Brendan Tobin.
A blustery wind swept down the field in Aughrim with Colaiste Bhríde facing into it in the first half. And they enjoyed the perfect start. Playing a clever quick passing game, they created a chance for Dan Redmond to pop over the opening score at the Rednagh Hill end.
Late replacement to the starting 15 of Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, Dan Byrne of An Tóchar, fired the first of seven wides for the Kilcoole side before Coláiste Bhríde rampaged up the field and celebrated when Joe McGuckian palmed home to the back of net thanks to savage work from Richard Greene.
Matt Nolan added wide number two for the Kilcoole outfit, as the swirling wind and dogged Coláiste Bhríde defence was starting to frustrate Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, and when Sean Hughes bagged the first of his three points from frees with eight on the clock, the Carnew side led by 1-2 to 0-0.
For the majority of the rest of the opening half, it was all Coláiste Chraobh Abhann.
They got off the mark after 13 when Darragh Heffernan swung over a beauty, and this was quickly followed by an Eanna Nolan effort.
Two more wayward kicks followed before an Eanna Nolan point and a class goal from Ciaran Murphy after 24 pushed Coláiste Chraobh Abhann ahead and the form books looked to have had their predictions spot on.
Ciaran Murphy extended the Coláiste Chraobh Abhann lead with a stunner off the outside of his right boot, but Daniel Bolger had the last say of the half for Coláiste Bhríde when he raised a white flag to send the sides in with the scores reading 1-4 to 1-3 in favour of the Kilcoole students.
Anthony’s Holly’s side hit the ground running on the restart with points from Sean Hughes (free) and two from Brandon Rossiter, his second brushing the top of Cian Timmons’ crossbar, pushing Coláiste Bhríde two ahead at 1-6 to 1-4.
Fighting the elements and a defence made up of the likes of Odhran Doyle, Larry Kinsella, Tim Ivers and Patrick Murphy, Coláiste Chraobh Abhann reacted superbly and had points from Eanna Nolan (free), JP Nolan (free) and substitute Cameron Brady to make it 1-7 to 1-6 after 13 minutes.
The game was now a battle. The expected rain was soon to arrive and complicate matters and Coláiste Bhríde were level after 16 thanks to the excellent Joe McGuckian.
Back came Coláiste Chraobh Abhann, Kilcoole’s Sean Byrne hoisting over a fine score to return them to the front but they were having to work fierce hard for their scores and with JP Nolan having to come deeper and deeper to forage for possession it meant that their usually potent attack was somewhat blunted.
Coláiste Bhríde kicked four wides on the trot and you wondered were they kicking away this excellent chance with all the wayward efforts.
But a fine run from Tommy Collins allowed him to be the man who passed the ball to McGuckian who sold a wonderful dummy solo before dropping over a beautiful score to tie the game late on.
With the game now well into injury time, Coláiste Bhríde won the kick-out and Brandon Rossiter was fouled as he drove towards the Coláiste Chraobh Abhann goal. Up stepped Sean Hughes. Not the longest or most difficult free he’ll ever take but he still needed to step up and kick it over bar which he did with aplomb.
Coláiste Chraobh Abhann would have one last chance, but they lost possession around the half-way line and Kieron Kenny sounded the final whistle much to the delight of the Coláiste Bhríde players who had emptied the tank to claim the Senior ‘A’ title at the expense of a gallant Coláiste Chraobh Abhann.
Coláiste Bhríde Carnew: Ciaran Lambert (Shillelagh-Coolboy); Kevin Murray (Tinahely), Tommy Collins (capt., Carnew Emmets), Odhran Doyle (Tinahely); Larry Kinsella (Tinahely), Tim Ivers (Kilanerin), Patrick Murphy (Tinahely); Sean Hughes (0-3, 3f) (Kilanerin), Brendan Tobin (Craanford); Richard Greene (Carnew Emmets), Daniel Bolger (0-1) (Kilanerin), Brendan Bolger (Kilanerin); Joe McGuckian (1-2) (Aughrim), Dan Redmond (0-1) (Carnew Emmets), Brandon Rossiter (0-2) (Shillelagh-Coolboy). Subs: Adam Healy for K Murray (22), Callum Patterson for B Bolger (46).
Coláiste Chraobh Abhann Kilcoole: Cian Timmons (An Tóchar); Andrew Waters (Newtown), Jack Wolohan (An Tóchar), Keevan Doyle (Ashford); Aharon Smith (An Tóchar), Matt Nolan (capt., An Tóchar), Shane Synott (Newtown); Shane Collins (Kilcoole), Sam Bishop (Ashford); Sean Byrne (Kilcoole), Ciaran Murphy (1-1) (An Tóchar), Eanna Nolan (0-3, 1f) (An Tóchar); Dan Byrne (An Tóchar), JP Nolan (0-1, f) (An Tóchar), Darragh Heffernan (0-1) (Newtown). Subs: Cameron Brady (0-1) (An Tóchar) for S Bishop (26, inj), Ethan Mackey (Newcastle) for Aharon Smith (60).
Referee: Kieron Kenny (Tinahely)