Skibbereen Community School 1-08 St.Patricks, Castleisland 0-06

Skibbereen Community School concluded a very successful first year on the GAA field claiming their second title in a fortnight on Friday last the 19th of May. The game was played in the outstanding Naomh Abán grounds in Baile Bhuirne and the fare served up by both sides was no less impressive in its quality.

The Skibbereen lads made history a fortnight ago securing the new schools first GAA silverware in winning the Cork Under 16 ‘A’ football championship and they aimed to make some more history in Baile Bhuirne by securing a first Munster title for their school.

The game was put back a number of weeks to facilitate the Munster minor and Under 17 football championships as Castleisland midfielder Eddie Horan played on both victorious Kerry teams and their fullback David Shanahan was also on the Under 17 panel that won the Munster final earlier in the week. Horan was aiming to make it three Munster championship victories over Cork in ten days but came up against a Skibb team that were not going to be denied.

The Kerry side, physically very big, started brightly launching a number of early attacks but came up against a brilliant defensive unit; the mean Cork defence becoming a feature of the game in general. With Ronan Collins giving a commanding performance in the Cork school’s goal he could rely on an extremely impressive fullback line of Ciarán O’Dwyer, Darren Daly and Michael McCarthy, a line that was dominant throughout. Both sides missed early chances before the Kerry school drew first blood with the opening point of the game. The lead didn’t last long, however, as Skibbereen were soon level through a pointed Elliot Connolly free.

In a hard fought first half the Kerry lads looked threatening but got little change from the tenacious Skibbereen defence with Sam Burchill, in particular, putting in a towering performance at centreback. What chances did arise were through dead ball situations leaving it up to Connolly and Horan to duel it out in the free taking department. As the short whistle approached it was Castleisland who led by a single point on a scoreline of 0-4 to 0-3. The Skibb forward line, including Aaron O’Sullivan and Paddy Burke, showed plenty of endeavour but were being frustrated by the Kerry defence despite some great approach work by centreforward Kevin O’Donovan and wing forward Alex Minihane. The Cork schools opening score from play came from some brilliant work down the left flank that culminated in a great point by full forward Gavin Foley who ran at the heart of the St. Pats fullback line before slotting over the equalizing score to leave it 0-4 apiece at half-time. While scores were at a premium there was no hint of negative play or mass defences by either side, on the contrary, it was full blooded attacking football by both schools.

On the resumption it was immediately apparent that the Cork side had moved up another gear. If the Skibb forward division had been guilty of some poor decision making in the opening period they showed a much more incisive edge in the second half. Attacking with great pace, taking on their Kerry opponents, they soon had their noses in front only for a dogged St. Pat’s to respond once more. Points were exchanged through the free takers, however, it was apparent to all present that Skibbereen were in the ascendancy. The Cork lads managed to maintain a phenomenal work rate over the hour displaying a hunger for success that saw corner forwards working as hard as corner backs to turn the ball over; and backs driving forward in support of their attack. Both Skibb wingbacks, Liam Browne and Seán Bohane, continued to raid down the wings as Eoghan O’Neill had done in the opening half. Castleislands Kerry minor star was effective with the dead ball but got no change from Skibb’s Jamie Shanahan who along with captain Dermot Hegarty put in a great hour at centrefield. Though Skibb were the better side throughout the second period the game was finely balanced with Skibb two points in front thanks to Connolly’s free taking and another fine effort by Gavin Foley from play. The result seemed to be put beyond doubt when the aforementioned Shanahan made a burst into the square and somehow got a fist to the ball ahead of the advancing Kerry keeper. Shanahan’s goal put daylight between the teams for the first time as it pushed the Cork lads five points clear of their Kerry opponents.

As to be expected a side like St. Pat’s were not to lie down and came at Skibb once more. A brief scare followed when Castleisland seemed to have a scored a goal of their own only for both umpire and referee to immediately signal a free out, the young Kerry forward clearly catching the ball before throwing in to the net. Skibbereen stuck to their positive brand of football to the end and were once again on the attack as the game slipped into injury time, with the lively Luke Connolly adding energy late on to the Skibb forward division. It was another second half substitute, the impressive Andrew Whelton, who made a big impact on his introduction to the Skibb full forward line. Whelton secured a lot of possession and was instrumental in the build up to the victors goal. With time nearly up Whelton again shot at goal from a difficult angle only to see the ball narrowly drift wide. At that stage of the game it was as good as a score for the Cork lads as the referee blew the fulltime whistle on the kick out sparking great scenes of celebration on the field and amongst the West Cork schools supporters in the stand.

Team and Panel

1 Ronan Collins

2 Ciarán O’Dwyer

3 Darren Daly

4 Michael McCarthy

5 Eoghan O’Neill

6 Sam Burchill

7 Seán Bohane

8 Jamie Shanahan

9 Dermot Hegarty (captain)

10 Alex Minihane

11 Kevin O’Donovan

12 Aaron O’Sullivan

13 Patrick Burke

14 Gavin Foley

15 Elliot Connolly

16 Rory Courtney

17 Liam Browne

18 Luke Connolly

19 Andrew Whelton

20 Paul Keane

21 Dylan Murray

22 Oisín Lucey

23 Ciarán Connolly

24 Iarlaith Hurley

25 Finbarr Harte

26 Denis O’Driscoll

27 Oran Collins

28 Michael Sheehy

29 Jonathan Benn

30 PJ O’Donovan

31 Muiríos Waugh

32 Adrian O’Driscoll

33 Conor McCarthy

34 Patrick O’Brien

35 Donncha O’Donovan

36 Conor O’Neill

37 Daniel Coakley

38 Tadhg McCarthy