CBS Carlow 1-7
Holy Rosary College Mountbellew 0-7
After Extra Time
All Ireland Post Primary Schools Senior “B” Semi Final
At Cusack Park, Mullingar
By John Whelan
Earlier this week a group of transition year CBS Carlow students visited Croke Park on a field trip, now the entire school will return with them on April 11th as CBS Carlow are into an All Ireland final. Team captain Niall Lowry describes it as “a dream come true” to get there. The final date with The Abbey School Tipperary is the CBS Carlow’s reward for their hard fought victory after extra time. The match bared semblances of the dramatic win in the Leinster South Quarter Final in Netwatch Cullen after extra time against CBS Enniscorthy. The drama, the drive, the determination and the sheer joy at full time were present against Enniscorthy and they were certainly present against Mountbellew. Team mentor Maurice Browne once again praised how disciplined the players were in their approach to the game when it wasn’t going their way. CBS Carlow were blown up for over three times as many fouls as Mountbellew in normal time but yet they were not deterred in their attempts to try win the ball.
Mountbellew were set up very defensively and despite playing with a very strong wind they didn’t abandon their game plan. More often than not they would elect to go backwards with any frees they had. When they did find themselves in the opposition half they would move the ball back across the pitch. CBS Carlow had to remain patient throughout the game despite the frequency of frees awarded to their opponents.
Colin Byrne, Kealan Galligan and Brian Byrne all found themselves with lots of ball in the early going as their defensive efforts gave CBS Carlow platforms to attack. Colin Byrne formed a great partnership with Ciaran Byrne which allowed CBS Carlow to retrieve the kickouts quickly and try mount an attack. Shane O’Neill opened the scoring for CBS Carlow on twenty four minutes after a very frustrating opening to the game where they found themselves bottled up by Mountbellew. O’Neill’s score came from Adam Deering’s great effort where he hit a Mountbellew man with a strong shoulder to dislodge the ball. Adding to the frustration for CBS Carlow was a yellow card for their captain Niall Lowry on nineteen minutes and Shane O’Neill right after he scored followed by a yellow for Jordan Morrissey on twenty six minutes.
John Daly opened the scoring for Mountbellew with a free on twenty seven minutes. CBS Carlow won a free just outside the forty five metre line on twenty eight minutes. Niall Lowry stepped up, facing into a gusting breeze he took the kick, it sailed straight between the posts. Niall Lowry has led by example all year for the CBS but this kick into the wind gave them an edge as half time approached. John Daly would convert a free for Mountbellew late into stoppage time to bring the sides in level at half time, 0-2 to 0-2.
The second half got off to a bright start for Mountbellew, Kieran Dowd pointed in the first minute. Ronan Griffen added a point for Mountbellew on forty minutes, it would be their last in normal time but it did give them a two point lead. Mountbellew had found themselves in on goal but the shot first hit the post, then off goalkeeper Ciaran Byrne’s shin but it bounced fortuitously to Shane O’Neill who calmly disposed of the danger.
Colm Hulton responded for CBS Carlow to bring it back to a one point game on the forty second minute. Brian Byrne had done well to get past his man and find Colm Hulton. CBS Carlow would have to wait for the equaliser. All of fourteen minutes would elapse before Ross Dunphy would level the sides with just four minutes remaining. Shane O’Neill battled hard to win the ball out on the sideline, Trevor Collins was up in support and he found Ross Dunphy for the score.
Then the drama came for CBS Carlow. After Keith Murphy took the resulting kickout for Mountbellew from Dunphy’s score, the referee Richie Moloney (Limerick) adjudged Niall Lowry of impeding a Mountbellew player. He showed Lowry a black card and as he was already shown a yellow it became red. Then things got much worse for CBS Carlow. Jordan Morrissey who was also on a yellow was very harshly shown another yellow to reduce CBS Carlow to thirteen men with two minutes remaining.
Somehow CBS Carlow managed to keep Mountbellew out, they forced them to shoot from distance which resulted in a wide. Mountbellew had time for one last drive towards goal but CBS Carlow stifled their efforts with four men there to stop him. The referee blew the full time whistle and sent the game to extra time as it finished 0-4 to 0-4. Post match, Niall Lowry said how much of a relief the full time whistle was as it meant CBS Carlow would be back to the full fifteen players for extra time. Conor Ryan and Jack O’Neill were the two players who would get to start in extra time.
CBS Carlow got off to a blistering start when Shane O’Neill won the ball from the throw-in, he surged away from the Mountbellew midfielders and put the ball over the bar to give CBS Carlow the lead after a mere eleven seconds. Brian Byrne stuck his fist up in the air just after he sent his shot goalward as it sailed between the posts to give CBS Carlow a two point lead after just two minutes. Colm Hulton and Shane O’Neill had battled hard to keep the ball alive and find Brian Byrne who exchanged passes with Ciaran Larkin before he took the shot. Colin Ryan converted a free for Mountbellew on five minutes to bring them back within one point. CBS Carlow led by 0-6 to 0-5 at half time in extra time.
The majority of the second half of extra time, like the entire game, was played in the area between both forty five metre lines. Mountbellew levelled the game with four minutes remaining when Colin Ryan’s free went over.
Maurice Browne said “We knew we could win it if we could just get one chance at a goal”. In a move that epitomised how CBS Carlow have played all year they got their chance with three minutes remaining. Colin Byrne received the short kick out from Ciaran Byrne. The cornerback found his way past two Mountbellew men then popped the ball to Brian Byrne. Shane O’Neill and Dylan Salter combined to drive the ball forward, James Brennan battled immensely hard to retrieve the ball. Jack O’Neill won it, he found Ross Dunphy who spotted Conor McGrath as he injected a bit of pace to go over the forty five metre line. McGrath found Hulton who was met with three Mountbellew men, he didn’t panic and like he has done all year he found a way by them. Hulton crossed the ball into Ciaran Larkin, he was met with two Mountbellew men but he managed to compose himself, control it again and shoot to the back of the net. Eleven CBS Carlow men touched the ball on the drive that ultimately brought them to an All Ireland Final in Croke Park. Mountbellew had chances late on when a free dropped short but it was fisted over the bar. Conor McGrath got a late score to give CBS Carlow a 1-7 to 0-7 win. CBS Carlow will now play The Abbey School, Tipperary Town in the All Ireland Final on April 11th.
CBS Carlow Team
Ciaran Byrne, Dylan Salter, Trevor Collins, Colin Byrne, Kealan Galligan, Brian Byrne(0-1), Conor McGrath(0-1), Niall Lowry(0-1f), Shane O’Neill(0-2), Ciaran Larkin(1-0), Jordan Morrissey, James Brennan, Adam Deering, Ross Dunphy(0-1), Colm Hulton(0-1)
Subs: Colm Henehan, Adam Murphy( on for Galligan 38 mins), Ryan O’Grady ( on for Deering 53 Min), Cian Fitzpatrick (on for Dunphy 80 mins), Jack O’Neill (Started ET), Brian Cody, Oisin Nolan, Kyle O’Brien, Paul Behan, Conor Ryan (started ET), Ciaran Murphy, Conor Clonan, M.J. Keane, Jack Timmons, Kyle Kenneally