Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne 1-8 St Patrick’s, Maghera 1-6
Line crossed, tape broken, summit conquered; phrase it whichever way you please but the bottom line remains unchanged — Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne are Hogan Cup champions, at last.
Though the school only came into existence in 2007, Saturday’s victory had been a long time in the making — three consecutive Corn Uí Mhuirí titles followed by two bitter All-Ireland semi-final defeats.
Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges had knocked long and hard at the door. The Promised Land was finally reached on Saturday.
Indeed, the scenes of unbridled joy which greeted the full-time whistle, Fitzmaurice jumping into the arms of selector Tommy Griffin, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh banging his desk in the press area, captured poignantly the significance of the win, but also the scale of their achievement.
Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne are only the fourth Kerry side to collect secondary school football’s most treasured silverware.
As one Croke Park steward quipped: “It may be the only All-Ireland Kerry win this year so they might as well enjoy it!”
St Pats’ tactics of playing just two men — Paul Gunning and Conor Convery — inside the Corca Dhuibhne 40-yard line caused serious problems for Fitzmaurice’s side who simply could not cope with the pace of the Ulster champions on the break. Irrespective, the champions were slow to make their dominance count with Gunning and Conor Glass squandering successive opportunities. On 11 minutes, Corca Dhuibhne’s defensive wall finally gave way. Gunning provided the delivery, Paul McAtamney collected and subsequently off-loaded to Glass who dispatched beyond Dáithí Ó Conchúir. Danny Tallon pointed in the ensuing passage of play to extend their advantage.
The decider was 20 minutes old when Séamus Ó Muircheartaigh had Dingle off the mark, the score providing only momentary respite, however, as Convery, Glass and Tallon landed points for a 1-4 to 0-2 interval scoreline.
When you consider Corca Dhuibhne outscored Maghera by 1-6 to 0-2 in the second half, not to mention the seismic shift in momentum, one wonders what exactly was said in the PCD dressing room during the interval.
Wing-back Maitiú Ó Flatharta revealed: “Eamonn hammered home that this was our last 30 minutes together as a team. This would be our last time together in the dressing room. A few of the lads stood up and spoke about what it meant to play for Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, to come from the Gaeltacht. We are all friends and after Eamonn’s speech, by God did we drive it on in that second half. We couldn’t cope with their tactics in the first half, but down the Hill side it seems to open up a lot. We knew that was going to happen. We had to box them up so we dropped back Caoimhghin Begley, then we started to break at pace and turned their game.”
One further directive stemming from said discussion was to employ direct ball on top of the full-forward line and within two minutes of the restart, the ploy had the desired impact.
Roibeárd Ó Sé fielded superbly Ó Muircheartaigh’s delivery, put the head down and the end product was befitting of an All-Ireland final. Goal Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne.
Thereafter, the tide turned dramatically with Fitzmaurice’s students raising four of the next five white flags — Ó Muircheartaigh (two frees), Ó Flatharta and Tom Ó Súilleabháin (free) the providers.
Conor Cassidy kicked arguably the score of the afternoon on 54 minutes to level matters at 1-6 apiece, but Corca Dhuibhne were relentless by this juncture, pushing forward at every turn.
Moreover, the midfield partnership of Barra Ó Súilleabháin and Marc Ó Conchúir had long since established their authority, having played second fiddle for most of the opening half. Tom Ó Súilleabháin edged the winners back in front with the finish line in sight and the honours were theirs when Barra Ó Súilleabháin, the figure at the centre of the black card controversy back in January, split the posts in the subsequent action.
Line crossed, tape broken, summit conquered.
Scorers for Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne: R Ó Sé (1-0); S Ó Muircheartaigh (0-3, 0-2 frees); T Ó Súilleabháin (0-2, 0-2 frees); M Ó Flatharta, B Ó Súilleabháin, T Ó Sé (0-1 each).
Scorers for St Patrick’s, Maghera: C Glass (1-1); D Tallon (0-2); C Cassidy, C Convery (0-1 free), P McAtamney (0-1 each).
POBALSCOIL CHORCA DHUIBHNE: D Ó Conchúir; C Ó Súilleabháin, B Ó Beaglaioch, T Ó Súilleabháin; M Ó Flatharta, C Ó Beaglaioch, S Ó Gairbhia; B Ó Súilleabháin, M Ó Conchúir; R Ó Sé, B Ó Raoil, S Ó Muircheartaigh; C Ó Géibheannaigh, C Ó Bambaire, T Ó Sé.
Subs: C Ó Murchú for Ó Géibheannaigh (HT); S Ó Bambaire for Ó Raoil (53 mins); T de Brn for Ó Muircheartaigh (60).
ST PATRICK’S, MAGHERA: C McCloy; P McNeill, O Hegarty, C McNeill; C O’Doherty, P Hagan, C Mulholland; C Glass, C Cassidy; J Doherty, P McAtamney, M McGrath; P Gunning, D Tallon, C Convery.
Subs: S Quinn for Mulholland (59 mins).
Referee: G McCormack (Dublin).
Roibeárd Ó Sé’s 32nd minute goal. St Patrick’s had ruled the opening-half with an iron fist, but Ó Sé’s strike, coupled with subsequent points from Maitiú Ó Flatharta and Séamus Ó Muircheartaigh wiped out that advantage within eight minutes of the restart.
Talk of the town
Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne are only the fourth Kerry nursery to lift the Hogan Cup, following in the footsteps of Intermediate School, Killorglin (1996), St Brendan’s, Killarney (1969 & 1992) and Coláiste Na Sceilge (2009).
Did that just happen?
Referee Gary McCormack ordered a number of players from both teams off the pitch to put on gumshields.
Best on show
Danny Tallon and Conor Glass impressed for Maghera when in the ascendancy, while Maitiú Ó Flatharta and Barra Ó Súilleabháin were excellent for the winners. Midfielder Marc Ó Conchúir, however, shades the verdict for a terrific and selfless shift.
Black card watch
No black cards distributed, nor was there a need for any.
The decision of Eamonn Fitzmaurice to redeploy corner-back Tom Ó Súilleabháin to corner-forward for the second period proved a masterstroke. Ó Súilleabháin nailed two frees and had a hand in most of Corca Duibhne’s second-half scores.
The man in black
Solid afternoon from Gary McCormack. Fitzmaurice said his side should have been awarded a free just before Maghera’s goal but there was nothing illegal about the challenge in question. Maghera were hard done by at the death when Conor Cassidy put in a tremendous block to dispossess his opponent, but was adjudged to have done so illegally.
End of the road for both schools
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