Watching St Colman’s (Newry) claim their eighth Hogan Cup title after a spellbinding decider will have generated plenty joy but there was a tinge of regret that the county will be unable to call on such an inspirational figure.
The star of the show was Rostrevor attacker Caolan Mooney who maintained his superb form for St Colman’s this season with a six point haul. Yet rather than being on the cusp of a stellar inter-county career, Mooney heads to Australia later this year to begin an AFL career with Collingwood.
“He’s leaving on a high”, remarked manager Cathal Murray. “He came into the school six years ago and now has two MacRory medals and two Hogan medals as well. You can’t ask for better than that.
We certainly wish him the best in his quest in Australia. He’ll do his A-Levels and he’ll head off whenever the Down minors finish.
Mooney made the headlines for his display but he had a rival for the game’s most influential performer.
St Jarlath’s possess their own blue-chip prospect in Shane Walsh with nine points over the hour. Walsh is a comfortable kicker off left and right and he effortlessly swept over placed balls from the ground with both feet. His accuracy from open play was of an equally high standard and the point he kicked from the right wing at the start of the second-half was an incredible effort.
St Colman’s made all the early running to lead 2-2 to 0-2 by the 20th minute and ultimately the ruthlessness they displayed in those opening stages was central to their success. They enjoyed an element of good fortune with their opening goal in the 4th minute when Jack Haughey’s attempt for a point dropped shot and slipped through the hands of goalkeeper James Healy. Their second strike was well-engineered in the 11th minute when Colman Doyle pumped a long ball forward and Jerome Johnston showed strength and composure to finish emphatically to the net.
At that stage the advantage was firmly with St Colman’s but St Jarlath’s surged back in brilliant fashion. The switch of Adrian Varley to midfield was a shrewd one while Adrian Nolan, Walsh and Ian Burke thundered into the game. Burke had been desperately unlucky not to goal in the 13th minute when his stinging drive cannoned off the crossbar. But Walsh’s freetaking kept them in touch and corner-forward Sean Silke exploded land three wonderful points before the break. St Jarlath’s trailed by 2-4 to 0-8 at the interval but a strong third-quarter performance saw them move into a 0-14 to 2-6 lead. Walsh could do no wrong in attack but their prospects were then hit by the loss of Adrian Varley through injury. In addition St Colman’s players Eamonn Magee, Connor Gough, Jerome Johnston and Mooney began to feature more prominently.
They were fortunate to be awarded close-range frees for seemingly innocuous fouls in the closing stages yet availed of the opportunities to lead 2-10 to 0-14 by the 57th minute.
St Jarlath’s scrambled desperately in the closing stages yet St Colman’s repelled their advances and a late Walsh point was all they could muster.
Scorers for St Colman’s, Newry: C Mooney 0-6 (0-4f); J Johnston 1-1 (0-1f); J Haughey 1-0; R Johnston, S McArdle 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Jarlath’s (Tuam): S Walsh 0-9 (0-6f); S Silke 0-3; A Varley 0-2; A Nolan 0-1.
ST COLMAN’S (NEWRY): M McNeice (Annaghmore); D Brannigan (Kilcoo), N Donnelly (Tullylish), R Lively (Clonduff); S McArdle (Burren), E Magee (Saval), K Haughey (Ballyholland); R Johnston (Kilcoo), C Gough (Newry Shamrocks); C Doyle (Liatroim), P Casey (Cullyhanna), C Mooney (Rostrevor); J Haughey (Newry Shamrocks), J Johnston (Kilcoo), T McGreevy (Clonduff).
ST JARLATH’S (TUAM): J Healy (Annaghdown); C Mulryan (Cortoon Shamrocks), C Cunningham (Corofin), D Collins (Corofin); P Glynn (Dunmore McHales), A Nolan (Killererin), P Varley (Cortoon Shamrocks); G Armstrong (Salthill/Knocknacarra), L Silke (Corofin); S Walsh (Kilkerrin/Clonberne), I Burke (Corofin), C McNamara (Corofin); S Silke (Corofin), A Varley (Cortoon Shamrocks), M McWalters (Milltown).Subs: M Farragher (Corofin) for Armstrong (28), S O’Boyle (Corofin) for A Varley (inj) (55), C Slattery (Kinvara) for McNamara (60).
Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).