Knockbeg College 3-10 Martist Athlone 4-6
Top Oil Leinster School’s U-16 Leinster ‘A’ Football Final
What a team and what a win.
Knockbeg College are the best U-16 team in Leinster after they came out one point winners over Martist of Athlone in the LOETB Centre of Excellence this afternoon.
There were heroic performances all over the field with Killeshin duo of Orrie Doran and Brendan McDonald outstanding in the full back line while St Joseph’s midfielder Ian Shanahan and sweeper Jamie Kelly worked tirelessly until the end.
But three players really shone – Arles-Killeen duo of Colin Dunne and Oisin Byrne along with Crettyard’s Ciaran Burke.
Midfielder Burke dominated the middle third of the field from start to finish as he won kick-out after kick-out and covered every blade of grass.
While up front, Colin Dunne and Oisin Byrne scored 3-4 of Knockbeg’s total score.
Knockbeg were nine points up at one stage in the second half but Martist came right back to leave just one between the teams as we entered what turned out to be seven minutes of injury time – but Knockbeg held on.
Martist played against the breeze in the first half and they got the game’s opening score via an Eamon Martin point.
Knockbeg had 290 supporters in Portlaoise this afternoon and, led by Stradbally’s Tadhg Murray, they were in full voice when man-of-the match from the semi final Oisin Hooney levelled the game.
But Knockbeg were rocked after 5 minutes when a slick counter-attack by Martist saw corner forward Senan Baker round keeper Sean Dollard to score the game’s first goal.
Knockbeg responded with a point from Oisin Byrne and a free from Fionn Bergin before an incredible reverse pass from Byrne set up clubmate Colin Dunne to rattle the net for Knockbeg’s first goal.
Ciaran Burke then added a point and Knockbeg were three clear after 15 minutes – 1-4 to 1-1.
But Martist were proving a tough nut to crack and when Ben O’Carroll broke clear of the Knockbeg rear-guard, he shot low into the corner of the net and the sides were level again.
Oisin Byrne regained the lead and Knockbeg almost had a second goal when Ciaran Burke raced through but his shot cannoned off the post.
But they didn’t have to wait long for their second goal as a wonderful ball from Oisin Byrne found Colin Dunne on the edge of the square and he fisted the ball to the net.
Fionn Bergin kicked a free and the half was brought to an end by Eamon Martin of Martist which left them 2-6 to 2-2.
Knockbeg now had to play against the breeze in the second half but they made a brilliant start to the new period and took a nine point lead.
Fionn Bergin and Colin Dunne raised white flags while a brilliant move involving Ian Shanahan, Ciaran Burke, Bryan McMahon and Bergin resulted in Oisin Byrne palming the ball to the net from close range.
The score now stood at 3-8 to 2-2 but Martist once again refused to lie down. Eamon Martin began their comeback with a point and then Ben O’Carroll struck for his second goal.
Ruaidhri Fallon then cut the gap to four but two Fionn Bergin frees from considerable distance into the wind re-established Knockbeg’s six point lead as we entered the final ten minutes.
The victors would not score again though as Martist came roaring back once more. Ben O’Carroll popped over a close range free before a high ball into the square caused pandemonium and wing back Sean Claffey punched home the game’s seventh goal.
The game then entered injury time and Fallon cut the gap to the minimum but Knockbeg somehow managed to hold on and the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes as fans and families spilled out onto the pitch.
Stephen Attride and Conor Ronan’s men have little time to recover though as they now face the Munster champions in the All-Ireland semi final on Saturday.
Well done lads.
SCORERS: KNOCKBEG: Colin Dunne 2-1, Oisin Byrne 1-2, Fionn Bergin 0-5 (all frees), Oisin Hooney and Ciaran Burke 0-1 each MARTIST: Ben O’Carroll 2-1 (one free), Senan Baker and Sean Claffey 1-0 each, Eamon Martin 0-3 (one free), Ruaidhri Fallon 0-2
KNOCKBEG: Sean Dollard (Killeshin); Jamie Kelly (St Joseph’s), Orrie Doran (Killeshin), Brendan McDonald (Killeshin); Tomas Byrne (St Joseph’s), Shane Buggy (Eire Og), Jesse McEvoy (Ballylinan); Ciaran Burke (Crettyard), Ian Shanahan (St Joseph’s); Oisin Hooney (St Joseph’s), Colin Dunne (Arles-Killeen), Oisin Doyle (Clonmore); Bryan McMahon (Palatine), Oisin Byrne (Arles-Killeen), Fionn Bergin (Grangenolvin). Subs: Ben Crotty (Eire Og) for Byrne (33m), Oisin Nolan (Castledermot) for McEvoy (48m), Conall Bergin (Grangenolvin) for McMahon (55m)
MARTIST: Hugh Cunniffe (St Brigid’s); Cathal Redmond (Garrycastle), Tom Kelliher (Tubberclair), Brian Nestor (St Brigid’s); Sean Claffey (Tubberclair), Tom Shine (Clan na Gael), Philip Temple (Maryland); Eamon Martin (Athlone), Ruaidhri Fallon (St Brigid’s); Conor Hand (St Brigid’s), Martin O’Grady (St Brigid’s), Neil Kenny (Tubberclair); Ben O’Carroll (St Brigid’s), Senan Baker (Caulry), Olan Healy (Caulry). Subs: Cullen Dowd (Athlone) for Kenny (ht), Matthew Whittaker (Tubberclair) for Martin O’Grady (39m), Paddy Higgins (St Brigid’s) for Baker (48m), Thomas O’Brien (St Brigid’s) for Temple (60m, inj)
Referee: Eamon O’Connor (Offaly)