O’Donoghue’s late point denies CSN

Coláiste An Spioraid Naoimh 1-7 St Brendan’s 0-10

Neither side can quibble with the result, but both will be hoping for better conditions for the replay at the same venue on Easter Monday (2.30pm).

In appalling conditions, both sides had chances to win, particularly the Sem, who were denied what would have been a winning goal by three superb saves by CSN’s Ken O’Halloran late in the game.

O’Halloran had played outfield in CSN’s two previous games and it was his last-minute goal against Críost Rí which earned them their place in the final. Yesterday he was back between the posts and there was a view that it was a move which could backfire on the Bishopstown school.

However, while the CSN attack missed his presence at full-forward, the selectors were vindicated after O’Halloran made those magnificent saves which kept his side in the title race.

In the lead up to the final, CSN mentor Pete Fagan said his team would have to stand up and be counted if the title was to come to Bishopstown for the first time.

Unfortunately for them, apart from O’Halloran, corner back Niall Collins, wing back Ross O’Dwyer, midfielder Denis Crowley and wing forward Paul Fitzgerald, Fagan’s call went unanswered, particularly in the first half.

The Cork side were outclassed in the first period by a highly efficient Brendan’s side superbly led by O’Donoghue at midfield and Kieran O’Leary at centre forward.

There was a great hunger about the Killarney side in that opening half and had they converted their chances, they would have been out of sight.

Leading 0-5 to 0-2 after 18 minutes, Brendan’s kicked four wides in a row before the classy O’Donoghue scored his third point and David Murphy added another to give them a 0-7 to 0-3 half time lead.

The dreadful underfoot conditions militated against any decent football, but it made for great entertainment as the ball spun off the greasy surface and players struggled to keep on their feet.

All the drama was in the second half. CSN were thrown a lifeline seconds after the resumption when they won a penalty for a foul on Ricky Kenny. Michael Shields’ effort was superbly saved by Jer O’Sullivan, but as he lined up to shoot home the rebound, Denis Maher had his leg hooked from behind and a second penalty was awarded.

Paul Fitzgerald took on the responsibility this time and made no mistake. It was game on now and after Ken O’Halloran made a great save to deny Brian Looney at the other end, Fitzgerald tied the game for the third time. All that drama happened in the space of five minutes and it set the scene for a gripping second half.

As the rain came down in torrents and the underfoot conditions deteriorated, the sides were level on two further occasions before the magnificent Denis Crowley made a great interception at midfield which put him in the clear. As he bore down on goal, he was hauled down and Paul Fitzgerald pointed the resultant free which gave his side the lead for the first time since the second minute.

Crowley was exceptional at midfield for CSN, using his height and powerful physique to great effect, and they were playing well enough to suggest it could be their day.

But Brendan’s laid siege to the CSN goal for the remaining eight minutes.

Despite losing the services of Brian Nunan for a second bookable offence, O’Halloran’s heroics looked to have won the day for Spioraid Naoimh. But in one last assault, Brendan’s won a free 20 metres out to the right of the goal and it proved no bother to Mike O’Donoghue, who placed it firmly between the uprights to give his side a second bite of the cherry.

Scorers for CSN: P Fitzgerald 1-2 (1-0 pen, 0-1 free); D Maher 0-2 (frees); E McCann, D Crowley 0-1 each.

St Brendan’s: M O’Donoghue 0-5 (0-4 frees); K O’Leary 0-3; D Murphy 0-2 (frees).

CSN: K O’Halloran; E Byrne, C O’Driscoll, N Collins; M Power, T Creed, R O’Dwyer; M Shields, D Crowley; R Kenny, E McCann, P Fitzgerald; A O’Neill, B Nunan, D Maher; Subs: P Honohan for O’Neill; M O’Donovan for Kenny.

St BRENDAN’S: J O’Sullivan; D Courtney, A Looney, J Payne; G Carroll, K Foley, S Lynch; M O’Donoghue, M Moloney; B Looney, K O’Leary, J Falvey; P O’Connor, D Murphy, J Doolan. Subs: P O’Leary for Carroll; A Moynihan for Doolan.

Referee: K Walsh (Clare).

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