A Coláiste Eoin goal from centre forward Dara Puirséil as the game entered injury time gave the all-Irish Dublin college a dramatic but fully merited victory over holders St Kieran’s, Kilkenny, in a hard-fought Corn Uí Dhúill (Leinster Colleges Post Primary ‘A’) final at Netwatch Cullen Park.
With the Kilkenny college clinging to a one-point lead (0-16 to 0-15), Puirséil went on a rampaging run through the Kieran’s defence to score the game’s only goal and bring the cup to the Stillorgan college for the first time.
The sides were level a total of nine times over the course of the game, including half time when they were tied at 0-6 apiece. The lead changed hands numerous times and it took the game’s only goal to provide the ultimate winners.
Both defences were on top and scores were hard to come by but the Dublin college stayed in touch throughout and one could sense that the holders were in bother.
This victory was based on a fierce determination and thirst within the Coláiste Eoin side. They matched Kieran’s in every facet of the game and it was obvious that their need was greater than their opponents.
The spine of the Dublin college was superb with Brian Mac Sithigh a towering presence at full-back. Ian O hEithir was master of affairs at centre back while midfielder Odhrán Mac Gerailt, the Cuala clubman, played a captain’s part. Centre forward Purséil scored 1-2 from play while full-forward Breandán O Scanláin was immaculate from placed balls, finishing with 0-5.
Kieran’s midfielder and joint captain Conor Kelly was their top player on the day, scoring nine points, three from open play.
But the Kieran’s forwards failed to fire on they day presenting little or no goal-scoring threat and finding themselves pitted against a defence fully intent on defending their territory. Darragh Maher scored three good points for the defending champions before retiring injured in the second half.
There was a better spread of scorers among the Coláiste side, with five of the starting team scoring from play, along with midfielders MacGerailt and Séamus O Fiachna, and substitute Lúc an Bháird.
A highlight of the second half, apart from the splendid running game of the new champions, was a superb sideline cut by left-half-forward Pádraigh O Luineacáin as the game entered its final quarter, which left his side a point adrift - 0-16 to 0-15.
And in the home straight it was the Dublin side which finished stronger to record a deserved maiden Corn Uí Dhúill success and advance to the All-Ireland semi-final.
St Kieran’s, by comparison, will have to travel a tougher route if they are to win a fourth Croke Cup on the spin. They will meet the Harty Cup winners from Munster.
Scorers for Coláiste Eoin: B O’Scanláin 0-5 (3 frees, 1 65), D Purséil 1-2, P O Luineacháin 0-3 (0-1 s/l), C O’Tuathaill 0-2, O Mac Gearailt, S O Fiachna, S O’Cuanaigh, L Mac an Bháird 0-1 each.
Scorers for St Kieran’s: C Kelly 0-9 (6 frees), D Maher 0-3, O Egan, D Walsh 0-2 each, J Harkin 0-1.
Coláiste Eoin: M O Donaile; C Mac Mathúna, B Mac Shitigh, L O Lochlainn; R O Maoileoin, I O’Eithir, C O Cathasaigh; O Mac Gearailt, S O Fiachna; C O Tualthaill, D Puirséil, P O Luineacháin; L O Fiachna, B O Scanláin, S O Cuanaigh.
Subs: L Mac an Bhaird for L O’Fiachna (19); D O Dulaing for MacGearailt (41).
St Kieran’s: D Galway; K Rudkins, P Moylan, D Fogarty; P McDonald, S Keoghan, J Harkin; C Kelly, H Walsh; C Kenny, J Doyle, D Maher; O Egan, P Donohoe, D Walsh.
Subs: C Mullen for Maher (injured) (47); J Sheridan for Doyle (54).
Referee: K Dooley (Offaly).