Cnoc Mhuire out of luck in Leinster final

TOP OIL LEINSTER PPS SENIOR “B” FINAL

Coláiste Choilm, Tullamore 4-5

Cnoc Mhuire Granard 2-7

Kevin Egan at TEG Cusack Park, Mullingar

It says something about the topsy turvy world we live in now that as he reflected on last Friday’s Leinster Schools “B” final defeat, Cnoc Mhuire manager Ryan Plunkett was in a positive mood, purely because his players got the chance to contest the title on the field of play.

Even by 2020 standards, showing any emotion outside of the usual range of anger, hurt and disappointment after losing a championship final seems bizarre. But then, as with so many other unprecedented situations, here we are.

“As teachers, we’re very conscious over the last couple of months that people are vulnerable. If they’re not seeing their friends, they’re losing out on their day to day interaction. That can be detrimental in some cases, but thankfully it hasn’t been the case in ours” was the summary of the Westmeath native.

“To be honest they’ve been delighted to be able to get out and get back to some sort of normality. We’ve been training for the last few weeks and that’s been very positive for them. The lads didn’t have the fairy tale ending we would have hoped for but they’re good, and they’re all the better for being able to play the game”

In truth, the final margin probably flattered Cnoc Mhuire, even though they will rue a number of missed chances – in particular a missed penalty in the first half and another glorious goal chance that was lost as a result of an inopportune fumble shortly after half time.

Yet they weren’t as clinical as their opponents, not nearly as sharp on the break, and while Mark Cunningham’s late goal was both a fine strike and just reward for a very impressive outing from the wing back, the green flag that followed it was very much an homage to Meath’s Joe Sheridan and his Leinster final ‘goal’ ten years ago.

It seemed as if the ball was carried over the line in the same fashion by Cormac Brady in this fixture, and the only question was if an overcarry or a penalty was the correct call when referee Keith O’Brien went in to consult with his umpires. Instead the goal was given and suddenly the Granard school were just a goal adrift, having trailed by nine just a few moments before.

Yet it was notable that when Coláiste Choilm needed a score to settle the game, they had the craft to create it.

Jack Bryant and Seán Courtney were key men for the Offaly U-20 footballers earlier this year and while Bryant was brilliantly marshalled by Cathal Gilligan here, Courtney – along with the Tullamore duo of Luke and Cormac Egan – were devastating. Courtney, who set up one second half goal and scored the other, duly fired over the insurance point from 50 metres to settle the game.

When Cnoc Mhuire reflect on the game, they’ll feel the first half was where they lost their way. Micheál Hynes missed the penalty that he was awarded somewhat controversially, Luke Egan and Cathal Ryan goaled to give the Tullamore school a 2-3 to 0-5 interval lead, and with a strong wind set to blow into Granard faces after half-time, they had a lot to do.

Led by their back division, they took on the task manfully and scored the first two points of the second half, but a third Coláiste Choilm goal sucked the life out of their challenge and meant they were out of the running by the time they mounted their late rally.

“They got two goals against the run of play and that cost us” recalled Plunkett.

“We missed a penalty and we had other chances as well, and to be honest at half time I was still confident we could come back but it seemed that every time we got a run on Coláiste Choilm, they were able to get a goal to keep their noses in front”.

Still, showing all that lockdown spirit of celebrating what you have rather than moaning what you’ve lost, Plunkett was able to see the positive side in his final summary.

“Coláiste Choilm deserved their win on the day and if you can walk away having been beaten fair and square on the pitch you can take that loss. Had we not got to play it certainly would have been worse”.

Scorers for Coláiste Choilm, Tullamore: L Egan & S Courtney (0-1f) 1-1 each, C Ryan, M Fox, 1-0 each, J Bryant 0-3f.

Scorers for Cnoc Mhuire Granard: C Brady 1-3, M Cunningham 1-0, M Hynes 0-2 (0-1f), T Madden and C Scanlon 0-1f each.

COLÁISTE CHOILM, TULLAMORE: Anthony Lambe; Michael Feeney, Aaron Flanagan, Diarmuid Walsh; Cathal Ryan, Colm Leonard, Sean Courtney; Josh Evans, Luke Egan; Emmet Curley, Cormac Egan, Jay Sheerin; Jack Bryant, John Furlong, Oisín Keenan Martin.

Subs: Michael Fox for Walsh (HT), Daniel Fox for Ryan (52)

CNOC MHUIRE, GRANARD: Daire Madden (Gowna); Tiarnan Madden (Gowna), Cian O’Reilly, Cathal Gilligan; Bryan Masterson, Ciarán Scanlon, Mark Cunningham; Connor Leonard, Caolan O’Reilly (Mullahoran); Mark O’Neill, Jordan Martin, Aaron Smyth; Cormac Brady (Gowna), Dara Sheridan (Ballymachugh), Micheál Hynes

Subs: Matthew Shaughnessy for Sheridan (46), Emmet Brady for O’Neill (50), Ruairí Corcoran for Smyth (50)

Referee: Keith O’Brien (Westmeath)

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