Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne 0-13
St Francis College 2-6
THE Rochestown school must still be scratching their heads in disbelief at not advancing to the Corn Uí Mhuirí (Munster Post-Primary Schools Senior Football Championship) final after an astonishing semi-final at Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday.
For 41 minutes they endured a nightmare. Roco couldn’t score. They were slow and ponderous, with passes dropping short or over-hit and their Dingle opponents, the defending champions, were nine points in front and coasting.
The Cork side’s shooting was abysmal, accumulating 11 wides, only three in the first half, but they badly needed a score of any sorts, though Lady Luck didn’t smile on them.
Josh Honohan was unlucky to see a goal-bound shot in the 10th minute strike a defender. Another fell into the arms of keeper Deivida Uosis while at the other end Rory Begley and Dylan Geaney kicked points for fun.
Indeed, but for ’keeper Max White’s quick advance off his line Geaney could have made it worse for Roco, who turned around 0-7 to 0-0 in arrears and staring at a humiliating defeat.
The opening stages of the second-half offered no respite. Alan O’Hare’s shot had goal written all over it until Gerry Lyne, acrobatically, turned it around the post for a ’45.
Then, Adam Cantwell was left frustrated by Uosis, who used his feet to keep the ball out and when the All-Ireland winning custodian jogged upfield to kick a brilliant free from the left touchline, Dingle’s lead stretched to nine after 40 minutes.
Remarkably, Roco’s despair quickly turned to hope of turning the game on its head in less than 60 seconds, when they finally got on the scoreboard, courtesy of two quick goals.
Cantwell’s opportunism produced the first with a fisted effort from a Conor Russell free and from a poor re-start, substitute Ray O’Halloran smashed in a glorious second, 0-9 to 2-0, by the 43rd minute.
A Russell point cut the deficit to two, bizarre in the circumstances, but the champions don’t do panic as another brilliant Uosis free and one from Killian Falvey restored some kind of order.
Roco persevered with Pierce O’Halloran at midfield and Sean Andrews in the half-back line leading the charge, which they carried right to the end of the 64th minute.
A Russell free made it a three-point game only for the holders to hit back with a brilliant team score, supplied by Begley, and their 13th point from substitute Stephen O’Connor for 0-13 to 2-2 with only four minutes remaining.
Dingle couldn’t relax, however, because Roco never gave-up and kept battling, Pierce O’Halloran starting a sequence of four unanswered points after 58 minutes.
A couple of Russell frees, either side of the hour mark and into three minutes of added-on time, raised expectations as the Kerry school’s lead was now reduced to just two points.
And when substitute Joe O’Connell cut the gap to the minimum, two minutes into injury-time, Roco were hunting an unlikely equaliser to extend the afternoon.
They nearly did it, too, Russell trying his luck from distance with late frees only to see his efforts drift wide, much to the relief of Dingle and leaving their opponents wondering.
Scorers for Pobailscoil Chorca Dhuibhne: R Begley 0-4 (0-1 f), D Uosis 0-3 f, K Falvey 0-2, D Geaney 0-2 (0-1 f), J Ashe and S O’Connor 0-1 each
Scorers for St Francis College: A Cantwell and R O’Halloran 1-0 each, C Russell 0-4 (0-3 f), P O’Halloran and J O’Connell 0-1 each.
POBAILSCOIL CHORCA DHUIBHNE: D Uosis; C Ó Flannura, TÓ Dubháin, S Ó Loinsigh; P Ó Cathalláin, G Ó Leidhinn, S Óg Moráin; J Aghas, Colin ÓMuircheartaigh; C Ó Catháin, C Ó Failbhe, Colm Ó Muircheartaigh; D Ó Geibheannaigh, C Ó Beaglaoich, R Ó Beaglaoich.
Sub: S Ó Conchuir for Ó Cathain 43.
ST FRANCIS COLLEGE: M White (Douglas); B O’Neill (do), T Murphy (St Michael’s), N O’Connell (Cobh); S Downey (Shamrocks), S Fenton (Ballygarvan), S Andrews (Shamrocks); P O’Halloran (Ballygarvan), S Aherne (Douglas); A Hennessy (St Michael’s), J Honohan (Carrigaline), P Vaughan (do); A O’Hare (Douglas), C Russell (do), A Cantwell (do).
Subs: R O’Halloran (Ballygarvan) for Aherne and J O’Connell (Douglas) for Vaughan, half-time, S Harrington (Passage) for Fenton 41, A Sheehy (Douglas) for Honohan 54, M Harrington (Nemo Rangers) for Downey 59.
Referee: M Meade (Limerick)