BY half-time in their Masita All-Ireland Colleges Senior Hurling quarter-final, the famed St Kieran’s college side looked home and hosed against Our Lady’s, Templemore.
In fact they had dominated the opening 30 minutes to such an extent that they led by an enormous 3-7 to 0-3 after the first period in what was expected to be a rip-roaring battle.
They obviously took
their foot off the pedal in the second half, however, because they allowed the
Tipperary side to shoot 1-3 without reply. Alarm bells rung loud until they
eventually soothed their supporters’ nerves and regained their composure to win
by 4-11 to 2-8.
Without doubt, it’s the colleges ‘A’ semi-finals that take pride of place on the post primary calendar this weekend.
St Kieran’s and Dungarvan Colleges lock horns at the WIT campus at 2pm while the other eagerly-awaited semi-final between Mercy Colleges and Kilkenny CBS plays off at Banagher.
Last time out the class of Vincent Teehan and Chris Bolger was enough to see St Kieran’s reach the last four but they’ll really be up against it this weekend in a fixture that should attract plenty of neutrals, never mind hundreds of supporters from each camp.
Although St Kieran’s came through with a bit to spare against Templemore, they now face a massive test today against the back to back Harty Cup champions.
Indeed, all the momentum looks to lie in the Waterford set up these days as various Deise Colleges have won four Harty Cups in the last six years. The amalgamation of St Augustine’s and Dungarvan CBS will probably only last for this season with the joint venture unlikely to see light next season, so the stakes are even higher for this bunch of players.
One of their mentors, Darragh Duggan, says his players don’t worry about public perception of their involvement in this competition.
“Those guys didn’t make the rules and they are great lads to deal with,” he says. “Many of them play football for St Augustine’s too, so they’ve had a real balancing act these past few weeks. It’s a massive commitment to play both codes at a high level but they have done everything we asked of them and we are very proud of them.”
“They have enjoyed serious achievements in the past two seasons and people might object because of that but there were very few objectors when we struggled in tight games to get results.
”Still, there’s enough to worry about – we’re playing the giants of colleges hurling in the semi-final and that’s enough to be getting on with.”
The Colleges’ team has played in the region of 18 hurling matches this season and they reach this juncture in cracking form. With an equally high-scoring ‘Kieran’s outfit improving all the time, this game has all the makings of a cracker.
So too does the Mercy Colleges/Kilkenny CBS meeting.
Mercy pulled off a sensational last-gasp win over Sean McGourty’s excellently-drilled Ulster Colleges’ side but the bar is now raised even further as they meet the on-song Leinster champions who are currently enjoying the better of their intense rivalry with St Kieran’s.
Galway minor Jason Flynn helped save ‘Mercy’s bacon last time out with a late goal but that escape act was crowned in dramatic fashion when, with the referee about to blow for full-time, Mercy's captain Shane Caulfield drove over a magnificent winning point from halfway to pip the Ulster side at the post.
Like St Kieran’s, however, the Galway side will be up against it this weekend.
It’s also a massive weekend in the VS Senior ‘A’ competition with two semi –finals up for decision; St.Brigid’s, Loughrea, meet Scoil Airegeal, Ballyhale, in Templemore at 1.30 pm, before the 3pm meeting of Coláiste Phobal, Ros Cré and St Fergal’s College, Rathdowney, at the same venue.
This Rathdowney side has been in many thrilling exchanges over the past couple of seasons and has plenty of big-game experience.
The All-Ireland VS junior football semi-finals, meanwhile, wrap up the action on a jam-packed weekend.
Coachford College play Gallen CS, Ferbane at Clonmel on 2pm but one of the game’s of the day could be the meeting of St.Mark’s, Warrenpoint, and Davitt College, Castlebar. The game takes place at Cusack Park, Mullingar at 2pm and if the Warrenpoint side’s scoring exploits are anything to go by they will be really hard to put away. They have averaged a whopping 28 points per game, incorporating an average of almost five goals each time they take the field.
Former Cavan manager Liam Austin is at the helm but he knows his young team will have a steeper challenge than last time out when they overcame Colaiste na Carraige, Donegal by 3-18 to 0-9 to claim the Arthurs Cup.
STAT OF THE WEEK
St. Mark’s has the distinction of being the youngest vocational school in the country and yet the most successful. They have won eight Ulster U-14 and eight Ulster U-16 titles. In addition to this they have won a record seven All Ireland U-16 titles in ’75,’76,’77,’88,’94,’95 and ’97.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
7 - THE number of All Star footballers St Mark’s has helped to develop - Colm McAlarney (2) Micky Linden (2) Liam Austin (1) Micheal Magill (1) and Brendan Coulter (1).