Watch a clip from the All Ireland Final above – Super Blues!
U-16s on top in epic Leinster Football final
GOOD COUNSEL 4-12
ST PAT’S NAVAN 2-8
If there was a better game of Colleges football in Leinster than this during 2014, those who witnessed it were indeed the lucky ones. It would have taken a lot to match this provincial Colleges Junior football ‘A’ final in Dr Cullen park on the 12th March 2014, as this game had almost everything. There were no cards of any colour, but attacking football, superb defending, a St Pat’s goalkeeper who made some brilliant stops, fabulous goals, and two sides who just didn’t know when to give in. It needed extra time to divide the teams but, if Good Counsel had lost, they would have been kicking themselves. They had so much of the ball during the first half normal-time, but Meath sides know how to defend as they gave nothing away easily. At the other end, the Good Counsel defenders were equally resilient. By the ninth minute , points from Mark Rossiter, Luke Sinnott(2) and Thomas O’ Connor put Good Counsel 0-4 to 0-0 ahead. St Pat’s shot four wides during the opening period, but Good Counsel defender Martin Doyle put his body on the line when denying Conor Brennan. Coming up to half-time, Navan ‘keeper Luke Condie made the first of his many saves when keeping out the marauding Daragh Lyons. With chances being created at both ends, the half time score of 0-5 to 0-2.
One minute into the second-half Counsel seemed to have taken a grip of the proceedings when Mark Rossiter reacted first to plant the ball in the back of the net after Thomas O’ Connor’s penalty had come back off the right hand upright. O’ Connor added a point and Good Counsel had created a seven point lead. It was too early to retreat back into their shell, but that is what seemed to happen. St Pat’s wing back Éanna Mooney and Conor Nash became the pivotal figures. Thomas Reilly combined well with those around him. Nash and Mooney pointed. Within the space of a minute, the game looked to been torn out of the grasp of our boys as Nash and Mooney added a goal apiece. Good Counsel’s lead was gone, and momentum was with the Navan boys when Good Counsel dug deep. An O’ Connor point levelled matters, but defences ruled for the remainder of the contest. In the final quarter, a Christian Byrne point nudged St Pat’s in front once again, and it took six minutes for Adam Mansfield to secure the equaliser for Good Counsel. With Darragh Lyons and Mikie Dwyer hunting relentlessly for possession it was all Good Counsel. The winning point wouldn’t come. Neither would a goal, but that was down to the heroics of the St Pat’s goalkeeper. Our captain Ian Carthy did have a last ditch 45’, but his effort sailed narrowly wide, and it was down to extra-time.
St Pat’s brought in fresh legs, but both Kevins (Kehoe & Bates) opted to hold fast, which was to prove a wise course of action. Our supporters were excellent at this stage where the ‘Super-blues’ chant carried across the field, encouraged by seniors John Walsh, Cian O’ Donoghue and Donncha O’ Connor. Encouraged by this support our boys showed their intent and struck immediately. When Joe Sutton saw his shot hit off a post, Thomas O’ Connor gathered the rebound to goal. Sinnott added a point and St Pat’s were reeling. They did hit back with a point, and Good Counsel keeper Cian O’ Connor made a great save. Ciarán O’ Hanlon was unable to finish off the rebound and watched in dismay as his fist steered the ball wide. The killer goal came just before the first period of extra time when Sinnott fired home from close range. At 3-11 to 2-7, we were almost home. In the 71st minute, Ian Carthy extended the lead with a point. O’ Connor then converted a penalty to bring our supporters to the sideline in anticipation of a famous win. A late Paddy Carpenter point for St Pat’s wasn’t even a consolation. There was no doubt that Good Counsel deserved to win as they were the best team on the day. The memory of their loss to the same opposition at Juvenile level only a couple of years previously, had now been consigned to distant memory with immense satisfaction. Colm O’ Rourke’s complimentary speech in our dressing room after the match was very well received. Counsel abú!
GOOD COUNSEL COLLEGE: Cian O’ Connor(Cloughbawn), Martin Doyle(Fethard), Mark O’ Neill(Gusserane), Sean Barden(Adamstown), Tadhg Cody(Cushinstown), Joe Sutton(Fethard), Eoin Porter(Cushinstown), Darragh Lyons(Ramsgrange), Ian Carthy(Taghmon, capt, 0-1), Adam Mansfield(Mullinavat, 0-2), Mikey Dwyer(Fethard), Martin Fitzharris(Gusserane), Thomas O’ Connor(Tullogher-Rosbercon, 2-4, 1 frees, 1 penalty), Luke Sinnott(Taghmon, 1-3), Mark Rossiter(Gusserane, 1-2 frees, 1 free) Subs: Ciarán O’ Connor(Rathnure) for Sinnott (extra-time), also: John Roche(Gusserane), Adam Winters (Taghmon-Camross), Ciarán Conway(Gusserane), Richie Waters(Fethard), Eoin Higgins(Rathnure), Evan Murphy(Adamstown), Conor Crosbie(Ramsgrange), Paul Manning(Tullogher Rosbercon), Daire Bolger(Cushinstown), Shane Doyle(Taghmon), Sam Wall (Gusserane), Liam Stafford(Adamstown), Tichard Gill(Tullogher), Emmett Coakley(Graiguenamanagh), Rory Higgins(Rathnure), Aaron Ryan(Cushinstown), James Tobin(Rathnure), Daire McGrath(Tullogher-Rosbercon), Clem Rossiter(Bannow-Ballymitty)
ST PATS NAVAN: Luke Condie, Paddy Carpenter(0-1), Thomas McGuinness, James Finnerty, Éanna Mooney(1-1), Éanna O’ Kelly, Niall Hickey, Conor Nash(1-1), Louis Timmons, Caolach Halligan, Thomas O’ Reilly, Christian Byrne(0-1), Conor Brennan, Jason Reddy, Seán Smyth(0-4). Subs: Chris Smyth for Conor Brennan, Páraic Diamond for Louis Timmons, Eoghan Prior for Caolach Halligan, Ciarán O’ Hanlon for Jason Reddy.
COUNSEL 2014 ALL-IRELAND CHAMPIONS (U-16)
GOOD COUNSEL 1-15
ST FRANCIS (ROCHESTOWN) 0-6
Winning an All-Ireland title is always a special achievement, but to do so in the style employed by our boys in misty Clonmel on Saturday 5th April, takes it to another level. The boys in blue and white(Super-blues) were simply awesome from start to finish as they destroyed a highly rated St Francis College(Rochestown) outfit in this Junior ‘A’ decider bringing a first National title home since the seniors did the business in Croke Park back in 1999. This is the first year for this competition to be played out to All-Ireland level rather than stopping in the respective provinces, and Counsel proved worthy first ever winners of the Paul McGirr memorial cup as they were in a different class to their rivals.
It was the ultimate team performance and there wasn’t a single weak link on the field. Enjoying first use of the strong wind blowing towards the town centre end, the Barrowsiders produced a power packed first thirty minutes to leat by twelve points to one point at the break, kicking a mere three wides in the process. And when they added the first three points of the new half, it was quite clear that the Cork lads were heading for a comprehensive beating from a group of players prepared by the two Kevins, Kehoe and Bates.
Counsel exerted control all over the field, opening their account tin the third minute when Luke Sinnott was fouled in the left corner and Mark Rossiter’s short crossfield free was struck over the bar by towering midfielder Darragh Lyons. Rossiter was narrowly wide from another free before the stylish Thomas O’ Connor nonchalantly stroked over the first of his eight points in the seventh minute from a forty five. Adam Mansfield then set up midfielder and captain Ian Carthy to make it three, and on the rare occasions when St Francis did get the ball beyond midfield it was returned with interest. Central defenders Mark O’ Neill and Joe Sutton were immense for the victors, and whwn hard work was required they had willing accomplices in corner men Martin Doyle and Sean Barden plus wingers Eoin Porter and Tadhg Cody. Behind them Cian O’ Connor was an excellent net minder and, though Counsel’s dominance was never in doubt, they still had good reason to be thankfull to the Cloughbawn lad for his reflexes on more than one occasion. The lead had been extended by six points to nil at the end of the first quarter after further scores from mark Rossitter(free), Ian Carthy and Thomas O’ Connor, with the latter firing inches over rather than under the bar off his left after a good move featuring Luke Sinnott and Martin Fitzharris. There was no let up from the leaders as they lorded it on breaks from Rochestown kickouts and piled on the agony for the Munster champions with a brace of points from all-rounder O’ Connor, the first after centre back Joe Sutton showed great tenacity in an exchange on the ground to win a 40/60 ball. The only respite for St Francis came in the form of a pointed free by corner forward Shane Kingston in the 22nd minute, but they conceded another four scores between then and half time. Thomas O’ Connor converted two frees, the first off the ground and the second via his hands, after impressive link man Mikie Dwyer and inspiring captain Ian Carthy were impeded. Luke Sinnott then nearly raised the green flag when his instinctive first time kick on O’ Connor’s pass close to goal flew over the bar after midfielders Darragh Lyons and Ian Carthy figured prominently in the build up. Yet another O’ Connor pointed free left Counsel with that handsome interval lead of twelve points to one, but nobody was counting their chickens all the same given the strength of the wind.
All of the half time chat centred on how St Francis would use the elements but they were never given a chance to get into any rhythm as our boys were hungry for more scores. O’ Connor was only denied a goal by a smart save from Daniel O’ Mahony in the 33rd minute after Ian Carthy placed a free in his grateful arms. Counsel had every angle covered, including reliable free-takers for either side of the field. While left-footer O’ Connor handled the output on the right flank, Mark Rossiter kicked anything favourable to a right footer and duly added to the lead in the 35th minute when Darragh Lyons was taken down. Netminder Cian O’ Connor was seen at his very best midway through the third quarter when Evan Ryle lobbed a quick free over a backtracking defence to Ciarán McCormack whose shot was bravely smothered. A lovely pass by Mikey Dwyer allowed Adam Mansfield the room to get off the mark in the 42nd minute, before St Francis had a mini spell of dominance that was always going to comme given the energy expounded by the Counsel lads. It didn’t amount to much though, just two pointed frees from Shane Kingston and another from play. Having said that, it took a magnificent block from Joe Sutton to deny Kevin O’ Donovan a goal in the 49th minute when a high line ball was kicked to the far post from the right flank. Moments later goalkeeper Cian O’ Connor kept his eye on the leather and cleared his lines under pressure from Kingston as another skyscraper was launched towards his posts. With that mini-storm weathered, it was time for Counsel to put some icing on the cake. On a perfect day it was no surprise that an inspired substitution should be part of the story, and so it proved as Jamie Myler was introduced for Luke Sinnott in the 54th minute and 40 seconds later, with his first touch he drove a low left-footed shot to the net after receiving an Adam Mansfield handpass (1.15 to 0-4). Evan Ryle managed a couple of late consolation points for St Francis, but Cian O’ Connor was ntent on keeping his goal intact and made another excellent save from Cathal Dold in between.
This was a vintage display, make no mistake about it. Rarely if ever has a Wexford team won an All-Ireland with such conviction and style, and it was a pleasure to be in south Tipperary to witness it.
Good Counsel College: Cian O’ Connor(Cloughbawn), Martin Doyle(Fethard), Mark O’ Neill(Gusserane), Sean Barden(Adamstown), Tadhg Cody(Cushinstown), Joe Sutton(Fethard), Eoin Porter(Cushinstown), Darragh Lyons(Ramsgrange, 0-1), Ian Carthy(Taghmon, capt, 0-2), Adam Mansfield(Mullinavat, 0-1), Mikey Dwyer(Fethard), Martin Fitzharris(Gusserane), Thomas O’ Connor(Tullogher-Rosbercon, 0-8, 4 frees, 1 ‘45), Luke Sinnott(Taghmon, 0-1), Mark Rossiter(Gusserane, 0-2 frees) Subs: Jamie Myler(Ramsgrange, 1-0) for Sinnott (54), John Roche for Fitzharris(64), also Ciaran O’ Connor(Rathnure), Adam Winters (Taghmon-Camross), Ciarán Conway(Gusserane), Richie Waters(Fethard), Eoin Higgins(Rathnure), Evan Murphy(Adamstown), Conor Crosbie(Ramsgrange), Paul Manning(Tullogher Rosbercon), Daire Bolger(Cushinstown), Shane Doyle(Taghmon), Sam Wall (Gusserane), Liam Stafford(Adamstown), Tichard Gill(Tullogher), Emmett Coakley(Graiguenamanagh), Rory Higgins(Rathnure), Aaron Ryan(Cushinstown), James Tobin(Rathnure), Daire McGrath(Tullogher-Rosbercon), Clem Rossiter(Bannow-Ballymitty)
St Francis College Rochestown: Daniel O’ Mahony, Nathan Walsh, John Cashman, Donnchadh Murphy (capt), David Stack, Seán Porter, Niall Quirke, Brian Flahive, Eoghan O’ Brien, Cian Denn, Evan Ryle, (0.2) 1 free, Kevin O’ Donovan, Sam Collins, Ciarán McCormack, Shane Kingston(0-4, 3 frees). Subs James Holland for Denn(HT), Jack McCarthy for Quirke, temp(32-35), McCarthy for O’ Donovan (54), Cathal Dold for Collins (59).