St Benildus 5-10 Ardscoil Rís 4-6
Fourteen-man St Benildus claimed the Dublin Schools Junior A Hurling title on Wednesday following a physically imposing and clinical performance against a brave Ardscoil Rís side at O’Toole Park.
St Benildus did not have it all their own way, but they found what was needed at the right time to bring the cup back to Stillorgan. St Benildus possessed strength and skill in their forward line and their ability to drop ball around the square proved irresistible in the final reckoning.
The Stillorgan school had to absorb the loss of Luke Moran, who was sent off for a late pull after 45 minutes, but fortunately this incident did not prove crucial to the outcome of the match.
Goals either side of half-time from Eoghan Coffey and the superb Barry Horan gave St Benildus the momentum to overcome Ardscoil Rís, who battled bravely to the very end. The Marino school were led by an outstanding performance from forward Cormac Costello who picked up a total of 3-5 and did not deserve to be on the losing side. Ardscoil Rís started the better and a classy finish from Costello in the third minute rewarded their tenacious play. Captain Donal Butler steadied the ship for St Benildus with a free shortly after as the battle lines were drawn between the two sides.
Benildus had the physical advantage in the forwards, but Brian Purcell and Martin Moore epitomised Ardscoil Rís’s defiant approach. Horan gave notice of his potential danger with a slaloming run early on, but Luke Carey was up to the task when called on in the Ardscoil Rís goal.
Horan was not to be denied a second time though as he made no mistake in the 15th minute for St Benildus, blasting the ball home from close range. Two further scores from Conor Devins saw the Southside school open up a three-point lead.
Costello responded with a stunning goal of his own beating three players, but Coffey’s snappy finish just before half-time gave St Benildus a four-point advantage at the break.
The Blue and Whites were certainly in the game at this point but were hit by a Benildus blitz after half-time from which they never really recovered. Horan struck his second goal in the 31st minute before beating his man to tag another point from play. St Benildus sensed hesitancy in the Ardscoil Rís backline and Luke Moran got on the goal trail after a beautiful piece of skill from Conor Hanley on the left-hand touchline.
With just five minutes gone in the second half Ardscoil Rís faced a mountain to climb and they seemed to hit the panic button as they repeatedly went for goal, despite encouragement from their mentors to take their points.
When Andrew Colclough found the net with eight minutes remaining, following a scramble in front of goal, St Benildus had one hand on the trophy. Ardscoil Rís did not lie down though and goals from Costello and Gavin Burke gave them the consolation their gutsy performance deserved.
Ardscoil Rís can hold their heads high, but it was ultimately St Benildus who possessed the extra quality on the day and deservedly claimed the trophy.
Scorers — St Benildus: B Horan 2-2, D Butler 0-5 (0-4f, 0-1 65), A Colclough 1-1, L Moran, E Coffey 1-0 each, C Devins 0-2. Ardscoil Rís: C Costello 3-5 (0-2f, 0-2 65), G Burke 1-1.
St Benildus: P Tighe, J O’Donovan, F O’Donoghue, M Mannion; S Mulvaney, D Butler, C Gormley; D Byrne, N Hanley; E Murphy, C Devins, E Coffey; A Colclough, L Moran, B Horan.
Ardscoil Rís: L Carey, M Moore, B Purcell, P Donnelly; P Kelly, J Collins, D Drumgoole; L Nickerson, S Curran; C Brennan, C Costello, G Burke; C Mullins, A Byrne, S Ó Cuinneachain. Subs: S O’Sullivan for S Ó Cuinneachain (37), C Fusco for C Mullins (37).
Referee: D O’Donovan (St Mark’s).
(Rory Tevlin – Evening Herald)