St Joseph’s College (Galway) 1-0 Sexton CBS, Limerick.
Brian Gaffney 34
St Joseph’s College of Galway faced their toughest challenge of their Cup campaign when they lined out against hot favourites Sexton CBS, Limerick in the Umbro FAI Schools Senior Boys Cup Final in Terryland Park on Wednesday.
Limerick have a phenomenal reputation at Schools level as the side were bidding to win an unprecedented third Soccer title in-a-row, and included star players Eoin Hanrahan and Jason Hughes. Both talented young stars were part of the U18 Schools International team who missed out on retaining the Carnegie Centenary Shield last month.
Aiming to claim their sixth All Ireland title in all, Limerick CBS went into the final full of confidence following a convincing 3-0 win at the semi-final stage over Leinster champions, Tallaght Community School, thanks to strikes by Cian Byrnes, Captain Fantastic Eoin Hanrahan and Derek O’Hanlon.
Their counterparts St. Joseph’s College - better known as the Bish - reached the decider after a penalty shootout victory over Loreto Community School, Milford, mainly down to goalkeeper Ger Hanley’s heroics who stopped three of the spot kicks and slotted the winner himself.
St. Joseph’s were bidding to win the prestigious All Ireland title for only the second time in the school’s history. It was 20 years since the Galway school claimed their first senior title in 1989 when Claregalway’s Frank Thornton directed the team to honours.
The Connacht Champions were awarded home advantage in the final, no doubt an extra incentive for a Galway win.
St. Joseph’s enjoyed the early exchanges with strikes from Ronan Conlon and Gary Kelly but 15-year old Keeper Steven McNamara was on form to deny the hosts.
Galway were rattled by a Limerick goal after a quarter of an hour of play but the player was ruled off side, much to the disappointment of the travelling supporters.
Ger Hanley was called in action promptly and pulled off an impressive save after great link play between Eoin Hanrahan and Derek Hanlon to create a chance against the run of play.
A long ball from Craig McMarlow in defence was carried forward by Hanrahan who immediately fed Hanlon but his pile driver was looking promising until the outstretched Hanley got his finger tips to the ball to deflect it past the post.
The Bish responded positively with a period of possession football which frustrated the Limerick lads. The Sexton Street defence was tested when Ebeneezer Olajide lofted a shot past the upright after the half hour mark. This was followed by a strike wide to the right from International star Brian Gaffney.
CBS couldn’t get into their stride as Galway matched them pace for pace. The game finally opened up for the Bish shortly after, courtesy of Brian Gaffney’s 34th minute intervention. His header was inch-perfect, the ball flying past youngster McNamara into the net for what proved the crucial goal.
The second half was limited with opportunities as neither side had a clear shot on goal.
Limerick narrowly missed out as Cian Byrnes failed to connect to a pass which flew into the box from the right foot of Jason Hughes.
Gary O’Connor was introduced after the hour mark and immediately impacted on the game. He supplied a good ball forward to Edward O’Donovan but the striker was unlucky not to make more of the opportunity at his disposal.
Molyneaux’s men couldn’t impress on proceedings and St. Joseph’s College held on for an emphatic and historic victory for the Galway school. However, the game ended on a sour note as four players were dismissed during the final stages.
Mr. Eamonn Naughton, Chairman of the League of Ireland was in attendance to present the Dr. Tony O’Neill Cup to the Galway Captain Ger Hanley.
ST JOSEPH’S COLLEGE: Ger Hanley, Thomas Curran, Ross Lynsky, Rory O’Donohue, Cian Fadden, Michael Evans, Barry McCabe, Ronan Conlon, Ebeneezer Olajide, Brian Gaffney, Gary Kelly.
Subs: Ian Lynsky, Daniel Keady, Adrian Jusufi, Cian Hynes, Conor Winn, Brian McNamara, Shane May, Paul Carty
Teachers: Robert Grealish, Barry McDermott, Coley Kelly
LIMERICK CBS: Stephen McNamara, Gary Griffin, Craig McMarlow, Brendan Mullins, Jack Molyneaux, Cian Byrnes, David Crowe, Jason Hughes, Eoin Hanrahan, Derek O’Hanlon, Edward O’Donovan.
Subs: Lee O’Mara, Gary O’Connor, Jonathan McNamara, Dean McNamara, David Quinn, Gerard Burke.
Teacher: Mick Molyneaux. Coach: Tommy Barrett
Referee: Alan Lynch (Offaly).