Semple & Cusack Park Host Post Primary Double Headers
PRIDE of place on this weekend’s Masita GAA All-Ireland Colleges calendar goes to the senior hurling ‘A’ final between Dungarvan Colleges and Kilkenny CBS.
The game, which is live on TG4, takes place at Semple Stadium at 3.15pm with Limerick’s Shane Hourigan in charge of the whistle.
Traditionally the competition has produced thousands of top quality hurlers who have gone on to bigger and better things. The undoubted giants of the Croke Cup are St Kieran’s College who won a record 17th All-Ireland title two years ago.
In recent times, however, other schools such as Thurles and Nenagh CBS have come to the fore and now we have Dungarvan Colleges and Kilkenny CBS – two other relative newcomers to the top table - looking to clinch the prestigious title.
“It’s brilliant for Dungarvan Colleges and this little run we’ve had over the past few years will never be taken for granted by is,” says Dungarvan Colleges boss Darragh Duggan. “To win two Harty Cup titles in-a-row was great and we have 31 fellas who gave everything during the year and I hope they get their rewards in the final because it means everything to them,” the Holycross native said.
“They’ll tell you that it’s a dream come true, unbelievable in many ways. For lads in Dungarvan to be here with two Harty Cup medals wouldn’t have been heard of 10 years ago.”
Duggan’s opposite number, Kilkenny senior Matthew Ruth, is also intent on taking the chance of All-Ireland glory – at the second time of asking. Last year they were beaten in the final by Nenagh CBS.
“I think there’s10 from last year’s team, including a few lads who came on,” Ruth explains. “That’s 10 or 11 that played in the All-Ireland final last year. They’re a very mature bunch of lads and they even said last year in the dressing room after losing the final that they’d have a great chance again. Obviously Leinster was a priority first of all, but we knew if we won Leinster that we’d have a great chance.”
The colleges’ landscape is ever changing.
The Dungarvan Colleges amalgamation that looks set to end this season, so all involved know that this is a gilt-edged chance to step up to the winner’s podium for the first time in their history. Meanwhile, it’s only been five years since De La Salle carved out another ground-breaking Waterford victory so there’s no doubting a Dungarvan win would do for the county.
They look in great shape. Darragh Lyons, their 15 year-old semi-final hat-trick hero, will need serious watching. And though many of the team have also played in the business end of the ‘B’ hurling and ‘C’ football championships they show absolutely no signs of slowing down.
Hitting five goals against St Kieran’s was a huge mark nailed down. Then again Kilkenny CBS were clinical enough against the Mercy Colleges, and have plenty to fight for after coming so close last year.
Dungarvan were stopped in their tracks by Kilkenny CBS in last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final so that’s another sub-plot ahead of the biggest game in the colleges hurling calendar.
CBS couldn’t start training until
November because county finalists Dicksboro and James Stephens had 15 of the school
panel on their books. One of those, Robbie Fitzpatrick, actually ended up
marking Henry Shefflin in the club championship. It shows how high the bar has
been raised in this competition.
It’s impossible to preview the Masita VS All-Ireland ‘A’ hurling final without mentioning the irrepressible Burke family.
Only a few weeks ago they were celebrating an historic All-Ireland club title but the VS final against St Fergal’s, Rathdowney, is yet another momentous occasion for the clan.
The clan’s youngest son, Eana, is one of the St Brigid’s mainstays and will be hoping to help power his school to victory over the Laois side this weekend.
His older brother, David, meanwhile, also has a strong and lasting connection with the school. In fact, the last few years have been pretty decent for David – after winning an All-Ireland Under-21 medal in 2011 he landed a Leinster senior medal and an All-Star last season. He also earned a job as a teacher in St Brigid’s where Eanna is a fourth-year student. And if you look back over the records you’ll find that 29 years apart, the Burke’s father, John, and the second youngest son, Darragh, respectively captained St Brigid’s to All-Ireland Vocational titles.
St Fergal’s have their own pedigree too, in fairness. Their manager John Casey has been producing great teams there at junior and senior level for many years.
In Eoin Doyle, Robbie Phelan, Liam O’Connell, Mark Kavanagh and Darragh Quinlan they possess quality players and like the Burke family and St Brigid’s, Loughrea, St Fergal’s have been producing intercounty players for years too. It’s estimated that at least 10 of the current Laois senior side, now enjoying a revitalisation under the manager Cheddar Plunkett, went to school at Rathdowney, with many of them winning an All-Ireland VS title in recent times.
There are just 300 students at the school so their semi-final win over a fancied Roscrea side was made all the more special.
“It was a great game against Roscrea and hopefully it will stand to us,” says selector Sean Conroy. “It took us a good while to get to grips with them and we needed extra time to do the job but I think it was all worth it because it showed our lads had the composure” Conroy adds.
“Eight or nine of the lads would have been on the team last year so there is still a bit of hurt around the place and plenty of motivation to go on and win this year’s title. Losing the Leinster final against Ballyhale, as strong as they are, had stung the lads as well but we have found out that there’s no shortage of heart here anyway.
“We had watched Roscrea closely and we realised from a way off that they were always going to be tough. We went to watch them play Borrisokane VS in their last game and though they were lucky to win that we knew there was a lot more in them which they duly proved against us.”
Their game management on the day – positioning of certain players and timing of substitutions – was crucial and everyone, mentors included, will need to be on their toes against a St Brigid’s team looking for their third All-Ireland VS title on the trot.
Neutrals will automatically assume that ‘Brigid’s are primed for another win.
Apart from Eana Burke, full-forward Brian Molloy is also a key figure and starred against Ballyhale in the All-Ireland semi-final, bagging 1-6, 1-1 from play.
But Loughrea did it the hard way - Ballyhale were leading 0-4 to 0-3 after 21 minutes until Molloy kicked in. They were comfortable winners in the end, even if they look to be a little dependent on the same three and four players for scores.
They were closely watched that afternoon by Sean Conroy and the St Fergal’s camp.
“Well, they are a great side and we know all about them,” Conroy says. “But our own lads have worked hard. They have great experience and they really want to win this final.”
St Brigid’s are hot favourites, but the Laois men will really relish the chance to lock horns with them and they should be in contention right until the end.
There’s another cracking final looming in the Masita GAA All-Ireland Vocational Schools Junior Football Final between St Mark’s Warrenpoint and Gallen C.S, Ferbane at Cusack Park, Mullingar, on Saturday.
A highly-fancied, high-scoring St Mark’s, Warrenpoint, side, managed by Liam Austin, came through their semi-final with ease, beating Davitt College, Castlebar, 2-21 - 0-4. To win, they will look to the top class free-taking ability of both Jordan Murphy and Tiarnan Rushe. But former Cavan manager Austin knows his young team will have a much steeper challenge than their last two games - they overcame Colaiste na Carraige, Donegal by 3-18 to 0-9 to claim the Arthurs Cup – and because they have not been tested in some time they cannot afford to take CS Ferbane lightly this afternoon.
The Ferbane outfit is on a decent roll. They made history by qualifying for their first All Ireland Junior VS final after beating Munster champions Coachford in Clonmel.
Gallen, meanwhile, were superb particularly in the second half where they outscored their opponents by 4-6 to 1-3. Mikey Butler crashed the ball to the net to set the team on their way and they didn’t look back after that.
The weekend’s programme is completed with the Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Senior Football ‘B’ Final between St Attracta’s, Tubbercurry, and Our Lady’s, Templemore, which is also fixed for Mullingar, with this one throwing in at 2.45pm.
High-scoring St Attratca’s have a proud pedigree but they haven’t won this All-Ireland crown since 2006. They were beaten by Clonmel in the 2010 decider and lost the All-Ireland semi-final last year.
Still, they’ve been steadfast in their pursuit of the cup this time around, bursting through Connacht before beating St Michael's, Lurgan, in the All-Ireland semi-final at Derrylin recently.
They’ll have it tough against the young Tipp side who had seven points to spare in their semi-final with Naas CBS. Tipp football is primed for a breakthrough and Our Lady’s feature players like John McGrath and Colin O’Riordan who will both be part of successful teams in the future.
Our Lady’s had five scorers last time out and they’ll need all of their forwards on top form if they are to get over the finishing line here against a very promising St Attracta’s side.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK – 10
THE number of points that Our Lady’s, Templemore, star footballer John McGrath scored in Tipperary’s All-Ireland minor hurling final replay against Dublin last year.
STATISTIC OF THE WEEK
St Attracta’s are relentless goalscorers; they hit 11 goals on their relentless march to the Connacht title and rattled in three more in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Comhairle Iarbhunscoileanna now has it’s own youtube channel– PPGAATV will cover highlights of a number of Masita GAA All Ireland Post Primary Schools Championship fixtures in the coming week.
Highlights of the following fixtures will be available on PPGAATV this Saturday evening: www.youtube.com/PPGAATV
St.Mark’s Warrenpoint v Gallen CS Ferbane
St.Attracta’s Tubbercurry v Our Lady’s Templemore