Saturday 24 February 2018

Mooney hits high note in swansong

All-Ireland Colleges SFC FINAL

Cian Murphy

CAOLAN MOONEY signed off on a glorious colleges GAA career when he inspired St Colman's to the successful defence of the Hogan Cup at Croke Park on Saturday.

The Rostrevor teenager is destined to follow in the footsteps of Marty Clarke at the end of this summer when he takes up the offer of an AFL rookie contract with Collingwood.

And he signed off in style as the Newry school just got the better of their Tuam opponents after a magnificent tussle.

St Jarlath's, seeking their 13th title, got off to a disastrous start and were 2-1 to 0-1 down after just 10 minutes.

Mooney opened with a free before a dropping shot from Jack Haughey deceived goalkeeper James Healy and landed in the net, followed by Jerome Johnston cracking in a fine goal after a great move.

However, Jarlath's were settled by the magnificent shooting of Shane Walsh, Adrian Varley and Sean Silke -- a nephew of 1998 Galway All-Ireland captain, Ray.

Switching Varley from full-forward out to midfield had an instant impact, while Walsh from Kilkerrin/ Clonberne had the ability to kick frees comfortably off right and left in the Maurice Fitzgerald mode.

Jarlath's trailed by only 2-4 to 0-8 at the break and the impressive Walsh kicked four of the next five scores to have them in front soon after the restart.

But with eight of the team that won the All-Ireland crown a year ago, Colman's had the experience, and impressively held their nerve to ride out this storm.

Switching Mooney from wing to full-forward gave them a new focus and with centre-back Eamonn Magee hungry for work and the aid of a stiff breeze, they surged back.

The AFL-bound teenager drifted in and out of the game, but there was no denying his obvious quality whenever he was on the ball.

St Jarlath's were left unhappy with some decisions that enabled Mooney convert crucial frees. But, when the big questions were asked, St Colman's showed the class of champions to respond and reel off four late scores to take back the momentum and claim the title -- with Jerome Johnston and Shay McArdle also prominent for the Newry lads.

SCORERS -- St Colman's: C Mooney 0-6 (4f), J Johnston 1-2 (0-2f), J Haughey 1-0, S McArdle, R Johnston 0-1 each. St Jarlath's: S Walsh 0-9 (6f), S Silke 0-3, A Varley 0-2, A Nolan 0-1.

St Colman's -- M McNeice; D Brannigan, N Donnelly, R Lively; S McArdle, E Magee, K Haughey; R Johnston, C Gough; C Doyle, P Casey, C Mooney; J Haughey, J Johnston, T McGreevy.

ST JARLATH'S -- J Healy; C Mulryan, C Cunningham, D Collins; P Glynn, A Nolan, P Varley; G Armstrong, L Silke; S Walsh, I Burke, C McNamara; S Silke, A Varley, M McWalters. Subs: M Farragher for Armstrong (29), C Coen for McWalters (53), S O'Boyle for A Varley (55).

Ref -- M Deegan (Laois).

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