The Coláiste Choilm substitute, introduced on 49 minutes, drifted immediately into the left corner despite having replaced right half-forward Seán Curzon.
Manager John O’Shea would joke afterwards that Hyland was more filling an empty space than following any tactical direction from the sideline.
Nonetheless, possession was floated to the Inniscarra youngster, unmarked and very much under the radar of the Scoil Aodháin rearguard. Off he raced, soloing twice with the right boot before unleashing an unstoppable effort with the left into the top corner of Seán Motherway’s goal. All within 10 seconds of entering the fray. Incredible.
The score fired Coláiste Choilm 1-11 to 1-8 in front, the first time the Cork school led, but instead of pushing for home, they shut up shop in a bid to close out the result.
O’Shea considered if differently: “Scoil Aodháin sensed time was running out and pushed hard for scores so we had no option but to funnel players back. I wouldn’t say we retreated.”
Conor Kavanagh (free) reduced the deficit on 57 minutes having missed a similar effort moments earlier. Scoil Aodháin struggled from placed ball with centre-back Alan O’Brien also missing a crucial free down the home stretch. Still, when Ian Jesson found Kavanagh in acres of space underneath the Hogan Stand, the margin was cut to the minimum.
The Leinster champions enjoyed a raft of openings thereafter, the outstanding opportunity falling to Cathal Doran; the half-forward, though positioned inside the 21-yard line, was unable to oblige, his tame effort falling into the arms of keeper Christopher Kelly. Presented with a late free, Kavanagh opted to pick out a team-mate rather than have a pot at goal, and referee Séan Hurzon signalled full-time before Jesson got his kick away.
“We are absolutely thrilled, it was a great game to win,” reflected O’Shea. “It didn’t look good for us for long periods. We stuck with it as we’ve done all year, we’ve been in worse situations. Again, the character came through.
“Scoil Aodháin could have had three goals inside the opening quarter. It took us a long time to get to the pitch of the game. Lads were extremely nervous. I told the lads to stick at it during the break, we were now winning a lot of possession around the middle that we weren’t in the first 10 minutes. They have savage belief and Declan’s goal was a major point.”
As noted, Coláiste Choilm were subject to severe examination during the opening exchanges, Scoil Aodháin threatening to put this one to bed very early on. Conor Kavanagh pounced for the opening goal in the second minute, the centre-forward, set up by Séan Ryan and Patrick Small, crashing an effort beyond a hapless Kelly.
Further goal chances presented themselves but, crucially, none were capitalised upon — Eoghan O’Donnell blasting wide from close range on six minutes.
The winners eventually settled and points courtesy of Sean O’Donoghue (0-2), an impressive figure throughout, and Aaron O’Raw squared matters after 15 minutes. Scoil Aodháin, though, continued to enjoy the upper hand, the midfield pairing of Aaron Elliott and Séan Ryan dominant, and reasserted their advantage through Kavanagh (free), Elliott (0-2) and Gavin King — 1-4 to 0-5 the interval difference.
Coláiste Choilm twice pared back the margin at the change of ends, O’Donoghue’s accuracy from the placed ball central to their resurgence.
In truth, the winning captain fought a lone fight for much of the contest up front, Cian Kiely’s 47th-minute white flag the only other score from open play by a Ballincollig forward.
It didn’t matter. Hyland’s goal kick-started a memorable afternoon for Munster colleges football.
Scorers for Coláiste Choilm: S O’Donoghue (0-6, 0-2f); D Hyland (1-0); C Kiely (0-2, 0-1f), D Murphy, D McCarthy, A O’Raw (0-1 each).
Scorers for Scoil Aodháin: C Kavanagh (1-4); A Elliott, C Doran (0-2 each); J Connell, G King (0-1 each).
COLÁISTE CHOILM: C Kelly; K O’Regan, K O’Sullivan, P Cronin; D Murphy, M Lordan, D McCarthy; A O’Raw, R O’Toole; L Collins, S O’Donoghue, S Curzon; C Kiely, D Kelly, C Hughes.
Subs: D Hyland for Curzon (49), E O’Shea for Kelly (60), M O’Leary for Hughes (60).
SCOIL AODHÁIN: S Motherway; K Nangle, S Brennan, I Jesson; J Connell, A O’Brien, J McCloone; A Elliott, S Ryan; C Doran, C Kavanagh, G King; P Small, G Doyle, E O’Donnell.
Subs: E Craig for King (50).
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).