St Francis College Rochestown midfielder Eoghan O’Brien winning possession from St Brendan’s, Killarney players Ronan Buckley and Evan Cronin in the Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final in Mallow, Co Cork. Picture: Des Barry
St Francis College, Rochestown wrote another memorable chapter in their fairytale season when overcoming fancied St. Brendan’s, Killarney in an absorbing Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final at Mallow on Saturday.
Already Harty Cup finalists, the Cork school remain on course for a quadruple of senior titles having being crowned Simcox Cup (Cork Colleges senior football) and O’Callaghan Cup (Cork Colleges senior hurling) champions, ‘Roco’ now aim to make it a clean sweep of titles and also complete a Munster ‘Double’ and equal a feat last achieved by Coláiste Iognáid Rís (Sullivan’s Quay) in 1975.
It was fitting that, as the 2015 team left the field, members of the last successful ‘Roco’ Corn Uí Mhuirí side of 1950 were on hand to offer their congratulations to a team containing 11 dual players and who now must first prepare for a Harty final on February 21 followed a week later by the football decider.
Team manager, Liam Murphy, described his group as one that “doesn’t get too worked up” about the hype building around them. “This is an absolutely fantastic result,” beamed the Watergrasshill clubman.
“It’s all about momentum now but this group won’t get too worked up about the hype.”
Meanwhile, it was heartbreak for St. Brendan’s who were seconds from bringing this game to extra-time but struck wide in one of the game’s last plays. The Kerry boys stayed true to the Kingdom’s rich heritage, playing a wonderful brand of football, but will rue the 14 wides they shot over the hour.
Cork minor football captain Seán Powter proved the match hero, coolly converting an injury time point in a powerful second-half performance from the Cork school that now goes forward to play Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne.
Rochestown overcame a five point deficit in a gutsy second-half performance where Powter, Niall Quirke, Shane Kingston, Evan Ryle and Daniel Meaney in a team of heroes played starring roles, while Brendan’s best performers included David Carroll, Shane Courtney, Dan O’Brien, Matt Rennie, Evan Cronin, Ronan Buckley and Michael Burns.
The ‘Sem’ could have been out of sight by half time: dominating possession they hit a rocky patch in the second quarter shooting six consecutive wides, though they still managed to lead 1-5 to 0-5 at the break, their 29th minute goal finished by Listry’s Ronan Buckley after some brilliant build-up play from Rennie, Gavin Whyte and Cronin. And having kicked the first two points of the second-half through Buckley and the impressive Burns, it looked like St. Brendan’s would be heading to yet another Corn Uí Mhuirí final.
However, Rochestown re-jigged their team, the decisive move being Evan Ryle’s to midfield. There the Carrigaline player dictated affairs as Roco hit 1-4 without reply, the points courtesy of Liam O’Sullivan, the inspirational Powter, Ben McAuliffe and Shane Kingston while the goal came from the hardworking Daniel Meaney in the 53rd minute. Minutes earlier it could have been curtains for the ‘Sem’ but Spa’s David Carroll saved bravely from a powerful Kingston shot.
The Killarney college struck back to level affairs with points from Liam Kearney and a superb effort two minutes into injury from Dara Moynihan, but Powter had other ideas driving forward from centre back to land the crucial score.
“We’re lucky the vast majority of our players in both hurling and football are fourth and fifth year students,” added Murphy afterwards, “so most of our Leaving Certs aren’t affected.”
Scorers for St. Francis: D Meaney 1-0; S Kingston (free) 0-3 (0-2frees); S Powter 0-2; C Cormack, M McAuliffe, B McAuliffe, E Ryle and L O’Sullivan 0-1 each.
Scorers for St. Brendan’s: R Buckley 1-2; M Burns (free) and E Cronin 0-2 each; D Clifford (free), D Moynihan and Matt Rennie 0-1 each.
ROCHESTOWN: P. Lynch (St. Michael’s);D Murphy (Douglas), N Quirke (Carrigaline), N Walsh (Douglas);D Kelleher (Cobh),S Powter (Douglas), D Griffin (Carrigaline); E O’Brien (Douglas), L Dineen (Douglas); D Meaney (St. Michael’s), E Ryle (Carrigaline), M McAuliffe (Douglas), S Kingston (capt) (Douglas), C Cormack (St. Michael’s), L. O’Sullivan (St. Michael’s).
Subs: B McAuliffe for Dineen (ht); K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers) for M McAuliffe (53); D Stack (Carrigaline) for Kelleher (58).
ST. BRENDAN’S: D Carroll (Spa); D Naughton (Dr Crokes), S Courtney (Glenflesk), J Flynn (Firies); G Whyte (Dr Crokes), D O’Brien (Glenflesk), M McCarthy (Spa); R Buckley (Listry), M Rennie (Fossa); E Cronin (Spa), M Burns (Dr Crokes), D Moynihan (Spa); D Clifford (Fossa), M Foley (Spa), L O’Donoghue (Glenflesk).
Subs: B Courtney (Dr Crokes) for Rennie (inj. 45); L Kearney (Spa) (capt) for Clifford (48); W Courtney (Firies) for O’Donoghue (51); C Spillane (Spa) for Buckley (55). D Doherty (Legion) for Flynn (59) .
Referee: K. Walsh (Clare).