Villiers gave Ashton a good test before succumbing 5-1 in an entertaining Munster Senior Schoolboys Cup final at Garryduff yesterday.
The Limerick school are, historically, relative minnows at this level, but they have already over-achieved this season by qualifying for the Irish Schools championships last October where they took points off former champions Cookstown High.
A kind draw gave them a path to the final that avoided heavy favourites Ashton plus Bandon Grammar and Midleton College, but fears that they may be overwhelmed on the day proved unfounded. Ashton hit the front in the first-half as Simon Wolfe’s 3D skills gave him the space to flick past Villiers keeper Jack Kearney. But Villiers, playing a direct style with David Cardy and Jonny Powell impressing, frustrated the yellow hordes and got a shock equaliser after the break, Glenn Morrow dragging home his side’s second short corner.
The visitors mounted a fine defensive stand with Luke Cardy charging down David Whitaker’s drag while Morrow took another effort off the line. But Ashton’s patience paid off when they moved the ball back to injector Philip Brownlow and he forced the ball home.
The floodgates opened thereafter with two goals in 60 seconds. First, Kevin Byrne’s good work in midfield helped set Simon Wolfe free, and he reversed across goal for Gary Wilkinson to touch in. A long Whitaker aerial into the circle was then skilfully tipped over the onrushing Kearney for number four, before Paul Holland converted at the second attempt after David Treacy had found him at the back post.
Beforehand, Mount Mercy claimed the Munster Senior Schoolgirls Plate with a 2-0 victory over Ashton.
The Model Farm Road school had less of the play but were more clinical, although they needed a stroke of fortune to hit the front, as a cross hit an Ashton stick to go in for an own goal.
There was nothing fluky about the clincher just before half-time though; Ireland U18 Abby Oakes took off on a 50-metre solo run down the left before crossing for Laurene Buckley to finish.
Elsewhere, Crescent Comprehensive hope to continue their incredible sporting success as they fly the flag for Munster in the Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships, starting in Kilkenny today.
The Dooradoyle school have won the Munster senior, junior and minor cups plus the junior and senior leagues in girls hockey, while their boys have claimed the senior cup in rugby with the junior final to come.
They are underdogs going into this five-team tournament however; captain Susan O’Hanrahan is the only sixth year who regularly starts on a very young team.
Ulster’s Lurgan have the best pedigree and won this tournament in 2011, while Mount Anville won out in Leinster without conceding a goal in normal time; their versatile captain Jane Fennelly is also the junior Irish indoor tennis champion.
Hosts Kilkenny College are relative minnows but can call on Irish U16 keeper Clodagh Cassin while Connacht’s Coláiste Iognáid — better known as the Jes — have a potentially match-winner in IHA U18 Player of the Year Elaine Carey.
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