With Group D further ahead than the other three, yesterday was the final round of games and, having lost to Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne and St Flannan’s College, Skibb needed at least a two-point win and a victory for the Dingle school against their Ennis opponents. The first objective was achieved, but unfortunately for Skibb, Flanan’s won to render the outcome moot.
Nevertheless, they can take heart from the performance, considering they went into the game knowing that a win was mandatory. Aided by the wind, they hit the ground running as a point from Seán Minihane, effective at midfield, was followed by Ryan Foley’s goal after Peter O’Driscoll’s delivery had evaded the Sliabh Luachra full-back line. When Rory Byrne and Seán Fitzgerald added further points, they were 1-3 to 0-0 ahead.
Inspired by All-Ireland-winning Kerry minor Brian, the Rathmore school came into the game. Friel and Ian Roche set up Jack Hanrahan for a well-worked opener and then Friel’s individual game left just two in it before he added a point after good work by Brian Brosnan.
If Skibb were shaken by that surge, they didn’t show it, as another 1-3 was quickly pieced together. Corner-forward Alex Minihane had their second goal with a low shot to the net as Eoghan O’Connell added some lovely points and though John O’Leary had a Rathmore point, Skibb had a third goal in the offing.
Wing-forward Elliott Connolly was the driving force this time as his run brought him deep into enemy territory and while he could have gone himself, he passed to Foley, who crashed a fine shot home.
Brosnan and Shane O’Sullivan reduced the gap for Rathmore as half-time neared but there was still room for a fourth Skibb goal, an unmarked Minihane with his second after Foley’s point attempt hit the post and dropped into his hands.
That left them 4-6 to 1-5 in front at the break and Foley’s fine point extended that advantage. Roche did have a Rathmore free, but O’Connell got his third point the validity of which was questioned by the Kerry side, who felt it didn’t curl in enough. Then Connolly fired a shot to the top corner after another good run. It meant that all 12 starting forwards had scored but more importantly for Skibb it gave them a near-impregnable 5-8 to 1-6 lead. They would add just one more point, a Foley free, but they had done enough.
Rathmore, for whom wing-back Jack Cremin excelled, did have frees which Roche and John O’Leary converted, but Friel was being forced to come deeper to try to influence matters and the Skibb defence never looked like coughing up the goals needed to make the game a contest. They took the points, but unfortunately for them they weren’t enough.
R Foley (2-2, 1 free), A Minihane (2-1), E O’Connell (0-3), E Connolly (1-0), S Minihane, S Fitzgerald, R Byrne (free) (0-1 each).
B Friel (1-1), J O’Leary (2 frees), I Roche (1 free) (0-2 each), B Brosnan, J Hanrahan, S O’Sullivan, J O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
E Hourihane; J Collins, C O’Driscoll, S Walsh; M Bushe, D O’Donovan, L Browne; P O’Driscoll, S Minihane; E O’Connell, S Fitzgerald, E Connolly; A Minihane, R Byrne, R Foley.
K O’Donovan for Browne (60).
F Jacob; K O’Sullivan, G O’Leary, M Doyle; G Looney, T Fleming, J Cremin; D Cronin, M Mahoney; B Brosnan, B Friel, J Hanrahan; J O’Leary, I Roche, S O’Sullivan.
J O’Sullivan for Doyle (37), D O’Connor for S O’Sullivan (48), C O’Leary for Fleming (60, injured).
B Barry-Murphy (Aghinagh)