Ross boys recover to secure Junior honours
New Ross CBS 5-14 Ratoath CS 5-10
New Ross C.B.S. overturned an eight-point first-half deficit on their way to claiming the Top Oil Leinster Post-Primary Schools Junior 'C1' hurling title in Athy.
The game changed after the sending-off of Ratoath wing-forward Jason Farrell early in the second quarter. It gave New Ross the chance to keep a closer eye on dangerman Daithí McGowan and the tactic worked superbly.
While clever switches are always important, the performance of the players is even more critical. It might seem strange, given the scoreline, but where New Ross won this game was their superiority in the full-back line.
McGowan got his scores, as you would expect of any county Minor in a Junior 'C1' final, but the C.B.S. defence won plenty of battles.
Ratoath had more of the ball, dominated territorially but found a resilient goalkeeper and full-back line.
At the other end of the field the Meath boys just couldn't stop New Ross. Almost every ball that went inside their '20 ended up in a score. That wasn't just down to their opponents' struggles, but also how well the inside forwards played.
After a quiet start to the game, Eoin Burke knocked his school into action with a ninth-minute goal (1-0 to 0-1). The net-rippler got everything going and soon majors were flying in at both ends. Pádraic Byrne and McGowan netted for Ratoath but Jack Murphy replied at the other end.
From 2-1 each, the Meath school made a break for it. McGowan grabbed his second major and Shane McGoldrick also hit the net as their side moved 4-4 to 2-2 in front after 20 minutes.
It might have only been a string of points but with Colum Feeney, Matt Rossiter and the excellent Niall Connolly all on target towards the end of the period, New Ross made a statement of intent (4-6 to 2-7 at half-time).
Composure went from Ratoath with more pressure on the shooter. They fired 14 second-half wides and only managed to score 1-4, with the goal coming from an injury time McGowan penalty.
At the other end New Ross C.B.S. took the lead after two stunning Connolly goals in the space of three minutes (4-7 to 4-6). From that point on they were never caught and when Burke fired home his second major from tight on the right with twelve minutes remaining the writing was on the wall.
Connolly scored 2-7 of his impressive tally in the second-half and he rounded out the game with four points in a row for his school as they eased their way to a hard-earned but well-deserved provincial title.
New Ross C.B.S.: Ryan Gardiner; Conor Ryan, Ryan Morris, Ciarán Doyle-Maher; Ciarán Royce, Conor Morrissey, Dean Roberts; Colum Feeney (capt., 0-3 frees), Jordan Richards; Darragh McDonald, Niall Connolly (2-10, 0-4 frees), Sam Dunne; Matt Rossiter (0-1), Jack Murphy (1-0), Eoin Burke (2-0). Subs. - Danny Nolan for Royce (31), Adam Fenlon for McDonald (60+1), also Patrick Richardson, Eoin Colfer, Denis Kilbride.
Ratoath: Tom Roddy; Liam Kelly, Aaron O'Flaherty, Alex O'Kane; Aaron Kelly, Pádraic Byrne (capt., 1-0), Seán Donnelly; Marc Donnelly, Adam Whelan; Jason Farrell (0-1), Shane McGoldrick (1-1), Cian Kelly (0-2); Tadhg McCann, Daithí McGowan (3-6, 1-0 pen., 0-1 '65), Rúairí Coulter.
Referee: David Coady (Kildare).