Corcoran’s heroics seal six-in-a-row for Bandon

GOALKEEPER Brian Corcoran embellished a growing reputation for saving vital penalty strokes as Bandon Grammar School claimed their sixth Munster Senior Schoolboys Cup in succession in dramatic fashion at Garryduff yesterday.

Corcoran had saved two in a shootout for his club in an Irish Junior Cup win at Mossley in November, and the imposing netminder thwarted three Ashton efforts as an engrossing final went the distance.

BGS had shown admirable resilience to come from behind at the death in both normal and extra time, helping the west Cork school claim an unprecedented double, following their annexing of the senior girls’ cup last month.

But this defeat was exceptionally harsh on David Hobbs’ Ashton side, who fully deserved to take their first title since 2003 on the balance of play.

Whereas BGS too often relied on the mercurial Darren Sweetnam to create circle penetrations, Ashton had a phalanx of forwards capable of doing so. Philip Sweetnam, Stephen Swanton, Mark Welch all shone and playmaker Andrew Daunt and marauding full-back David Doherty pulled the strings.

But Ashton ultimately paid the price for their profligacy at short corner time, where skipper Dan Hobbs took a while to find his rhythm before firing the goals that had looked set to give them glory.

Ashton keeper Conor Shemeld was as impressive as his opposite number throughout, in a tie that had goalless stalemate written all over it entering the final quarter, only for Hobbs to finally find the bottom corner with a 64th-minute drag after re-adjusting well at the top of the circle.

However, Darren Sweetnam dramatically fashioned an equaliser out of nowhere with 40 seconds left, ghosting across the circle before blasting home across Shemeld from 15 yards.

Both sides appeared exhausted during extra-time but Hobbs still had the energy to hammer a drag-flick against the top of the backboard on 78 minutes to re-take the lead for Ashton.

Philip Sweetnam nearly fashioned an unusual goal for Ashton 60 seconds later, nipping in to hit a one-handed reverse goalwards as Corcoran attempted to shepherd an overhead out of play, only to see it creep the wrong side of the upright.

Scott Sullivan’s control let him down at the other end as Lynch fashioned a gilt-edged chance for an equaliser just before half-time in extra-time, while both Swanton and Welch were agonisingly close to connecting with Philip Sweetnam’s centre as Ashton immediately broke down the other end.

BGS coaches Denis Pritchard and Darren Platts pushed Lynch forward from the back as they went in search of a second equaliser in the final 10-minute period, and their chances were given a significant boost when Daunt was harshly yellow-carded with four minutes to go.

The leveller came two minutes later, skipper Andrew Scannell flicking home after Hobbs had blocked Lynch’s short corner effort, before Corcoran’s shootout performance prompted the entire BGS team to bury their heroic keeper under a pile of bodies as they celebrated in style.

ASHTON: C Shemeld (GK), D Doherty, S O’Grady, D Hobbs (capt), W Brownlow, P Catchpole (vice-capt), A Daunt, N Gokul, M Welch, S Swanton, P Sweetnam.

Rolling subs: M Buttimer, M Holland, R Sweetnam, R Lynch, D Wolfe.

BGS: B Corcoran (GK), K Lynch, S McIloy, T Gray, D Sweetnam, S Sullivan, J Robinson, A Walsh, F O’Leary, M Coombes, A Scannell (capt).

Rolling subs: S Miller, T Bateman, B Scott, C Duggan, N Leeming.

Umpires: P Oakley & F Kelleher.

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