In the 24th minute of the first half, the score standing at 0-6 each and the Antrim school holding their own in impressive fashion against the Munster champions, Cross keeper Ciarán Butler seemed to have dealt with a long-range Jordan Fogarty. He controlled the ball on his stick, caught it, cleared, but the two umpires were in agreement — the ball had crossed the line and a goal awarded.
Had it though? That was the question Cassidy was asking.
“Everything was going to plan. We had set ourselves up with an extra man at the back to keep everything nice and tight. When they got the goal it was six points all or something. I didn’t see but it was given — someone was saying TG4 showed it at half-time and it wasn’t across the line. It was a critical time in the game and after that they were in the driving-seat, we had to go and chase the game.”
He may well have had a point but in truth, and controversial goal or not, once the Shinrone-powered Roscrea school got to grips with the Cross defensive set-up, recovered from going 0-4 to 0-1 down after just nine minutes, there was really no question about which was the better side.
Yes, the goal gave Coláiste Phobal a lift coming up to the break but the second half was practically all one-way traffic, and much of that originated in Shinrone. The Offaly minor champions of 2013 had seven starters, three in a defence that dominated as the game progressed. Declan Cleary at full-back, fronted by county minor Daniel Doughan, along with JP Cleary on the right wing, were augmented by Roscrea’s own Ian Treacy and Brian Davis in the corners, along with captain Lee Cashin on the left wing, and all did a magnificent job.
The aforementioned Jordan Fogarty (also Shinrone) ended up the shooting star of the show, got that goal and was unerring from frees regardless of distance or angle, with a fine partner in Anthony Deveraux.
Up front the half-forward trio of Ciarán Cleary (Shinrone), Seán Fogarty (Moneygall) and James Dooley (Borris-in-Ossory) did trojan work, not just in attack but in defence, no cheap ball cleared.
The entire full-forward line was replaced during the game but subs Shane Fletcher, Cian Rigney and second half goal-scorer David Murray all did well.
Arguably however the most influential Shinrone native wasn’t on the field at all — manager Willie Smyth.
“One Willie Smyth, there’s only one Willie Smyth!”, so sang the players afterwards as they hoisted their manager in the air.
“It was a huge second-half performance. We didn’t hurl particularly well in the opening five or ten minutes, took us a while to cope with their defensive structure. They were packing the defence but coming up to half-time we were starting to come to terms with it, got a few good points. The goal was a huge boost, probably a bit lucky but it brought us back into it. We’ll take it — we conceded goals like that in 2009 and 2011 so it’s swings and roundabouts, we’re due a break.”
And all those Shinrone lads? “We had a good number of them, yes, all there on merit, but one thing about this group — they’re a team. I sensed that the way we came through Munster there was a great team spirit there and it kept on building. On a day you don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re known as a good second half team anyway but usually we’re playing with the wind in the second half, today we were facing into it, so it was even better.”
The summit reached, will he now head out to pasture? “Absolutely not, this will keep me going for another ten years!”
Scorers for Coláiste Phobal Ros Cré: J Fogarty 1-8 (7f, 0-1 65); D Murray 1-0; J Dooley 0-2; C Cleary 0-2; D Doughan, A Deveraux, A Cleary, S Fletcher, 0-1 each.
Scorers for Cross and Passion College: C McLafferty 0-7 (6f, 0-1 65); J McErlain, D McShane, R McCambridge, 0-1 each.
COLÁISTE PHOBAL ROS CRÉ: E Moloney; B Divis, D Cleary, I Treacy; JP Cleary, D Doughan, L Cashin (c); J Fogarty, A Deveraux; J Dooley, S Fogarty, C Cleary; E Fitzpatrick, S Sampson, A Kirwan.
Subs: A Cleary for Kirwan (inj. 25); S Fletcher for Sampson (42); C Rigney for Fitzpatrick (53); D Murray for A Cleary (57).
CROSS AND PASSION COLLEGE: C Butler; E Hill, R McCambridge, S McBride; C McCaughan, O.D. Laverty, Paddy Joe Graham; C McAllister, D Whelan; S McGrath, C McLafferty, C Christie; D McShane, J McErlain, S Hunter.
Sub: C Patterson for Christie (38).
Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow).