The Kilkenny school who lost last year’s final to another Tipperary side, Abbey CBS, were well positioned when they turned to play with the strong wind after being on level terms at half time.
However they had to withstand a tremendous second-half battle by Borrisoleigh before finishing in style. Eoin McGrath, Martin Boran, Damien Fogarty, Peter O’Donovan and Paddy Shortall excelled for the winners, while Borrisoleigh were well served by Daniel Shanahan, Willie Ryan, James Woodlock and Andy Kinane.
Castlecomer got off to the perfect start against the wind and were two points to the good after a minute as St Josephs struggled to cope with the dominance of Peter O’Donovan at centre back and Eoin McGrath on the 40.
Only the excellence of James Woodlock at midfield prevented the Tipperary school from falling further behind, but they were grateful for the superb marksmanship of Daniel Shanahan who had the sides level after 15 minutes.
With the strong wind to their backs, Borrisoleigh pinned Castlecomer in their own half of the field for the remainder of the half, but they failed to take advantage of two 20 metres frees which should have been pointed.
Instead Willie Ryan opted to go for goal on each occasion, but the shots were blocked and Castlecomer must have been pleased to go in at half time on level terms, 0-4 apiece, with the elements in their favour to come.
Both defences continued to dictate matters on the changeover. Strangely, Castlecomer’s was by far the busier as the outstanding James Woodlock drove his side forward.
However, the scores weren’t coming due to excellent defending by Peter O’Donovan and James Staunton. Gradually the wind advantage finally began to tell and, with Eoin McGrath unerring from frees, the Kilkenny side forged 0-9 to 0-6 in front by the end of the third quarter.
There was still plenty of fight left in the Tipperary lads, however, and when Willie Ryan blasted home a goal from a penalty and Daniel Shanahan and Damien Young added a point apiece, the winning post was clearly in sight for Borrisoleigh.
In hurling, there is an old saying that a two-point lead is the worst lead a team could have going into the closing minutes of any game and so it proved yet again.
There appeared to be no danger as Damien Fogarty lined up to take a 30 metre sideline ball, but his effort was perfect and went all the way to the net and amid incredible excitement it was fitting that Eoin McGrath should have the final say with a point as the Kilkenny side held on for a merited victory.
Scorers for Castlecomer: E. McGrath 0-7 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); D. Fogarty 1-0; M. Boran 0-3; D. Stone, G. Nolan 0-1 each.
Borrisoleigh: D. Shanahan 0-7 (0-5 frees, 0-1 65); W. Ryan 1-0 (penalty); D. Young 0-1.
CASTLECOMER: D. Shore; P. Shortall, J. Staunton, T. Nolan; P. Nolan, P. O’Donovan, R. Maher; J. Maher, D. Fogarty; D. Stone, E. McGrath, S. Allen; G. Nolan, C. Kinsella, M. Boran.
BORRISOLEIGH: P. Bourke; E. Woodlock, D. Kerins, M. Butler; B. O’Sullivan, P. Stapleton, D. Kennedy; J. Woodlock, B. Graydon; J. Maher, A. Kinane, D. Young; W. Ryan, E. Costello, D. Shanahan. Subs. J. Hogan for Kinsella; E. Russell for Maher.
Referee: J. Sexton (Limerick).