Leinster secured their eleventh title in thirteen years when they landed the FAI Schools U18 Boys' Interprovincial title after a pulsating conclusion to the weekend's activities in Athlone on Sunday last (October 16)
The three day event saw league leaders Connacht and second place Leinster in contention for the title race with the westerners only needing a point to claim victory against the Leinster legends.
John McShane's side were feeling the pressure as they had to go out to win the game to make sure of the silverware. Connacht Manager Emmet Peyton was certain that Leinster could be dethroned as his player's attacking style of football was one to admire over the course of the tournament. After putting three past Munster in their previous encounter, Connacht's confidence was at an all time high heading into the final game.
However it was Leinster that made their mark first in proceedings and took the lead after just 11 minutes. Blackrock's Ryan Matthews turned supplier to Naas CBS star Luke Fitzgibbon who slotted home from close range.
The game turned in Connacht's favour shortly after the interval as they found their equaliser. An excellent goal from Kiltimagh's Conor Byrne brought Connacht one step closer to silverware.
With only 15 minutes remaining Leinster sealed the deal with Paul Moffat (Clonkeen College) scoring the winner. Sean Maguire's crafty skills landed Moffat the perfect opportunity to slot past the stranded Connacht keeper. Bitter disappointment for the Connacht contingency but pure elation for the Leinster lads as they make it 5 consecutive title wins.
Manager John McShane paid tribute to the efforts of his player's in grinding out a match winning performance against a talented Connacht side. McShane was highly impressed with the standard of play in all three games and stated that it was the closest tournament in recent years.
In the previous Sunday morning meeting Munster proved too strong for a fatigued Ulster outfit. The Derek O'Brien trained team had a convincing 4-1 win against the north. O'Brien's side was strengthened by the introduction of Barry Sheedy after his late arrival in Athlone. The Col√°iste Iosaef student had club commitments with Limerick FC and was rested for the Saturday games following his club's win against Athlone Town on Friday night.
Sheedy's impact on the game was very much in evidence as he scored twice for his province. The inform Reece Healy (CBS Sexton Street) and lively Jack Doherty (Comeragh College) were also on the score sheet for Munster while Lindo Majola (St. Clare's College, Ballyjamesduff) scored for Ulster.
The second round of games was played on Saturday afternoon which saw Leinster meet Ulster in the first fixture. Leinster were welcoming the return of Ryan Matthews (Clonkeen College) and Waterford United star Sean Maguire (CBS Kilkenny) back to the starting 11.
This match was highly competitive and a cracking encounter ensued. St. Macartan's pupil Fearghal McMahon gave Ulster the lead while Fairview's Alan Gannon equalised soon after. Leinster were experiencing a purple patch and Tallaght student Toyeeb Mustapha made it 2-1 to the Leinster lads with time ticking by. However Cathal McDaid (St. Eunan's College) was on hand for Ulster to give Sean McFadden's side a well deserved point from proceedings.
Munster and Connacht were up next on Saturday and a five goal thriller was the result of this mix. Connacht just edging it as they claimed a 3-2 win in a skilful battle. Reece Healy and Conor Coad (DLS, Waterford) got Munster's duo of goals while Noe Baba headed home twice while Conor Byrne got Connacht's third to secure some precious points.
The tournaments opening games on Friday evening saw Leinster without two of their top players as Ryan Matthews and Sean Maguire were absent from proceedings. This however did not stop Leinster from defeating 2006 Champs Munster 2-0 with goals from Alan Gannon and Toyeeb Mustapha. Munster should have made more of the game as they enjoyed the majority of possession but a failed set piece attempt and a long range effort from Douglas CS star Rob Lehane left Munster dropping some valuable points.
Ulster entertained Connacht in a very tight game under lights in Tullamore in the second of the night's games. Peyton's men took the lead courtesy of Colm Nevin while Monaghan's Fearghal McMahon levelled proceedings just after half time. The points went west as a wonderful free kick from 15 year old St. Gerald's pupil Noe Baba secured a win for the province.
International Head Coach Ollie Horgan (St. Eunan's College) and his colleagues will have a difficult task to whittle down a provisional squad to attend trials at the end of the month. Horgan is also conscious of the fact that a number of key players were unavailable at the weekend due to injury, club commitments and trials abroad. 35+ players will be called in for trials over the school midterm break at the end of the month.
A provisional panel of twenty will be selected to play Australia at the end of January before a final squad of sixteen is selected for the Centenary Shield campaign which commences on March 16 against Northern Ireland.
PRESENTATION IMAGE: Ryan Matthews, Pierce Sweeney, Paul Moffat (Leinster captains) with John McShane (Leinster Manager) and Tom Bolger (FAI Schools Chairman)
Leinster: Stephen McGuinness (Colaiste Chraobh Abhann, Kilcoole), Adam O'Connor (Drimnagh Castle SS), Paul Gannon (St. Joseph's, Fairview), Pierce Sweeney (Colaiste Raithin, Bray), Ryan Matthews (Clonkeen College, Blackrock), Paul Moffat (Clonkeen College), Craig Burke (Donahies CS), Luke Fitzgibbon (Naas CBS), Alan Gannon (St. Joseph's, Fairview), Sean Maguire (CBS Kilkenny), Sean Hurley (CBS Arklow), Ger Pender (St. Brendan's College, Bray), Mark Lyons (Knockbeg College, Carlow), Toyeeb Mustapha (St. Aidan's CC, Tallaght), James Mullaney (Mountrath CS), Niall Corbett (Clonaslee VC, Laois)
Management: John McShane (Dublin Oak Academy, Bray), Paddy O'Reilly (Trinity Comprehensive School, Ballymun), Conor Foley (Athlone Community College)
Munster: Evan Comerford (CBS High School, Clonmel), Aidan McGrath (CBS High School, Clonmel), Anthony O'Donnell (Carrigaline Community School), Brendan Frahill (Colaiste Mhuire, Cobh), Gavin O'Donovan (De La Salle College, Waterford), David Cooley (St. Paul's Community College), Reece Healy (CBS Sexton Street, Limerick), Darren Murphy (St. Aidan's Community School, Cork), Rob Lehane (Douglas Community School), Conor Coad (De La Salle College, Waterford), Jack Doherty (Comeragh College, Tipperary), Barry Sheedy (Col√°iste Iosaef, Kilmallock), Sean Barrett (Col√°iste Ioasef, Kilmallock), Jason Keane (St. Paul's Community College), Brian Kinehan (PBC, Cork), Darragh Gibbs (Comeragh College)
Management: Derek O'Brien (CBS Tramore), Conor Uhi (Col√°iste Mhuire, Cobh), Gary Power (FAI DO, Waterford)
Ulster: Seamus Houghton (Carndonagh CS), Ryan Curran (Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana), Peter Doherty (Scoil Mhuire), Hugh McFadden (St. Catherine's VS), Darren Coyle (Carndonagh CS), Shane McGinty (Deele College, Raphoe), Cathal McDaid (St. Eunan's College), John Carney (St. Aidan's Comprehensive School, Cootehill), John McGarvey (PCC Falcarragh),Ferghal McMahon (St. Macartan's College, Monaghan), Darragh McConway (Carndonagh CS), Darragh O'Connor (Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana), Caolan Reilly (St. Aidan's Comprehensive School, Cootehill), Lindo Majola (St Clare's College, Ballyjamesduff), Dean McConnell (Deele College, Raphoe) and Conor Forde (St. Macartan's College, Monaghan)
Management: Paddy Carr (Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana), Sean McFadden (Crana College), William O'Connor (Scoil Mhuire, Buncrana)
Connacht: Conor O'Malley (Rice College, Mayo), Gabriel Darcy (St. Mary's College, Galway), Michael Casey (Summerhill College, Sligo), Padraig Keane (Rice College), Noe Baba (St. Gerald's College, Mayo), Ian Batley (Clifden CS), Timmy Molloy (Colaiste Iognaid, Galway), Conor Byrne (St. Louis, Kiltimagh), David Brick (St. Clare's Comprehensive, Leitrim), Colm Nevin (St. Gerald's College), Jason Lyons (Colaiste Iognaid), Rory Lavelle (St. Mary's College), Jamie Fallon (Rice College), Evan Browne (St. Mary's College), Ben McGarry (Summerhill College), Jack O'Reilly (Colaiste Iognaid)
Management: Emmet Peyton (St. Mureduch's College, Ballina), Fergal O'Hara (Rice College), Tom Byrne (St. Gerald's College), Seamus McWalter (Physio)
Friday, October 14 (Leah Victoria Park, Tullamore)
Munster 0-2 Leinster
Ulster 1-2 Connacht
Saturday, October 15 (Leah Victoria Park, Tullamore)
Leinster 2-2 Ulster
Connacht 3-2 Munster
Sunday, October 16 (Willow Park, Athlone)
Ulster 1-4 Munster
Leinster 2-1 Connacht