The Leinster champions recovered from the concession of a sixth-minute goal to carve out an eight-point interval advantage, posting 1-7 without reply in the process. Their dominance continued apace at the change of ends, notching a further five unanswered points to move 13 clear. Their movement up front, use of possession and composure in defence ticked all the right boxes.
On 49 minutes, Josh Ryan converted a run-of-the-mill free to end Abbey CBS’s 43-minute barren spell. The midfielder, fetching an Andrew Vance delivery, finished to the net at the second attempt for goal number two and St Marys’ lead was further eroded when Ryan was tripped inside the large parallelogram on 54 minutes. Daire Egan converted the resulting penalty to reduce the gap to 1-13 to 3-1.
St Mary’s composed themselves and a massive free from Niall Lowry put paid to whatever comeback was stewing.
“You are always wondering when you come up with a group of minors to Croke Park what way are they going to perform,” said winning manager Maurice Browne. “We knew we had the potential. To deliver on the day is very satisfying. In the last 10 minutes, they got two goals, but other than that, we dominated most positions, used the ball smartly and took our scores well. We had a meeting at the start of the year. We said we’d give it everything or we’d give it nothing. The lads decided they would give total commitment and we’d see how far that would take us. We never dreamed it would lead us to Croke Park. Dreams are made of this.”
Ciarán Larkin, impressive Dublin minor Colm Hulton, Adam Deering, Niall Lowry and Shane O’Neill tallied their eight first-half points. Hulton, collecting Shane O’Neill’s floated delivery, fired to the Abbey net on 16 minutes to cancel out Shane Neville’s well-taken goal at the other end. The Carlow school were desperately unlucky not to find the net for a second time in the subsequent action, Shane Ryan sweeping Jordan Morrissey’s kick off the line. Ross Dunphy’s point on 43 minutes meant St Mary’s front eight had all contributed from open play, this contest signed, sealed and delivered from a long way out.
C Hulton (1-2); N Lowry (0-3, 0-2 frees); S O’Neill, A Deering, J Brennan (0-2 each); C Larkin, J Morrissey, R Dunphy (0-1 each)
J Ryan (1-2, 0-2 frees); D Egan (1-0 pen), S Neville (1-0 each); A Vance (0-1 free).
Ciarán Bryne (Tinryland); D Salter (Éire Óg), T Collins (Graiguecullen), Colin Byrne (Ballinabranna); K Galligan (Killeshin), B Byrne (Graiguecullen), C McGrath (Tinryland); N Lowry (Tinryland), S O’Neill (Palatine); C Larkin (Tinryland), J Morrissey (Éire Óg), J Brennan (Éire Óg); A Deering (Killeshin), R Dunphy (Éire Óg), C Hulton (Ballymun Kickhams).
A Murphy (Éire Óg) for O’Neill (50 mins), O Nolan (Michael Davitts) for Deering (52), R O’Grady (Graiguecullen) for Larkin (52)
C Fanning (Galtee Rovers); S Ryan (Lattin/Cullen), E McNamara (Oola), S Moloney (Lattin/Cullen); T Lowry (Arravale Rovers), S Power (Galtee Rovers), C Ryan (Arravale Rovers); J Ryan (Oola), B Fanning (Pallasgreen); D Byron (Galtee Rovers), K Landy (Golden Kilfeakle), S Neville (Lattin/Cullen); A Vance (Emly), D Egan (Galtee Rovers), S O’Dwyer (Galtee Rovers).
S Ryan (Galtee Rovers) for O’Dwyer (HT), D Fanning (Pallasgreen) for Ryan (38), C Hennessy (Oola) for Landy (42), P Ryan (Solohead) for Neville (60), G Halligan (Arravale Rovers) for Moloney (62).
M McNally (Monaghan).