Heartbreak for St Peter's as Athlone side sneak through
All losses hurt, no doubt, but some come with a dose of added sting. St Peter's exit from the Leinster Post Primary Schools Senior 'A' Football championship at the hands of Marist, Athlone in Athy on Thursday last is one of those.
Marist Athlone 2-09 St Peter's College 0-14
It was one of those defeats that has an array of galling elements. Invariably fifty/fifty refereeing decision went against the Wexford school, they were the better, more talented team over the course of the tie and they got hit by a last-kick-of-the-game sucker-punch.
The disappointment could be prolonged by Marist's future exploits. Especially as St Peter's seemed to possess a group of players with enough talent to go a long way, possibly all the way, in this championship.
Unfortunately for the Summerhill boys there's no satisfaction it what could have been. Referee Niall Colgan set his stall out in the opening minute ignoring a shoulder without possession in scoring possession for St Peter's.
Still, two points from Barry O'Connor, plus overs from Rowan White and Conor Firman had the Slaneysiders 0-4 to 0-1 ahead after eleven minutes. That increased further with Shea Boggan landing a stunning point as St Peter's led 0-7 to 0-2.
Marist, who scored just 1-2 of their total from play, got a massive slice of good luck when Michael McGloin converted a penalty. The strike itself was solid but the winning of it was questionable.
The taker himself looked to be fouled about 25 metres from goal only for the referee to play on, he fed Cathal Mannion whose legs gave way under pressure from two defenders and the softest of penalties was awarded.
Despite the misfortune, the excellent James Stafford popped over a late point and St Peter's still led 0-8 to 1-3 at the interval, despite playing against the breeze in the opening half.
A Mannion point, his teams first from play, and a Brian Derwin free levelled the game only for the O'Connors, Barry and Rory, to see St Peter's back in front (0-10 to 1-5) early in the second stanza.
A brace from Conor McCormack tied the game again in the early stages of the final quarter but Firman and White edged their school ahead again. They were still leading 0-12 to 1-8 when disaster struck.
Again a questionable call was crucial. A controversial free, given for handling on the ground, was taken quickly by McCormack. He fed Fionn Dowd, who in turn quickly found Mannion and the dangerous attacked hit the net. Suddenly, almost from nowhere, St Peter's were behind.
One injustice too many saw mentor/teacher Shane Roche banished to the stands with five minutes left. His side continued to fight and, after Barry O'Connor narrowed the gap to one, Stafford scored a sensational point to tie the game in the first minute of added time.
However, one area that St Peter's struggled was under high balls - more often than not conceding frees but often simply losing them. When Marist won the resulting kick-out, attacked and won a line ball, Brian Derwin sent over a kick worthy of winning any game to knock the Wexford boys out.
MARIST: Conor Devaney; Darren Carroll, Emmet Nally (capt), Shane Fury; Eoin Mulvihill, Jimmy Curley, Fionn Dowd; Michael McGloin (1-0 pen), Daniel Reid; Cathal Mannion (1-1), Corey Reid, Ryan Gaffney; Conor McCormack (0-3 frees), Brian Derwin (0-5, 3 frees, 1 lineball), Kieran Rigby. Subs. - Mark Egan for C. Reid (45), C. Reid for Curley, inj (57), Sean Dowd for McCormack (59).
ST PETER'S: Nicky Greene; Rory O'Connor (0-1), Ronan Devereux, Cathal Devereux; Michael Codd, Jack Pettit (capt), James Stafford (0-2); Conor Firman (0-2), Shea Boggan (0-1); David Gouldson, Conor Hearne, Finn O'Driscoll; Dylan Lyne, Rowan White (0-3), Barry O'Connor (0-5, 4 frees). Subs. - Ben Moore for Lyne (39), Quinn Saunders for O'Driscoll (44), Ciaran Joyce for Gouldson (57).
REFEREE: Niall Colgan (Kildare).