Counsel clinch semi-final spot
Joyce's goal downs Marist
A dominant third quarter paved the way for a classy Good Counsel victory over Marist (Athlone) in the Leinster Post Primary Schools Senior football 'A' championship quarter-final at Dr. Cullen Park, Carlow on Sunday.
Good Counsel 1-12 - Marist (Athlone) 2-5
The New Ross boys needed extra-time to see off Ardscoil na Trionóide in round two, and it looked set to be a similarly tight battle when Marist went in at the interval with a two-point lead (2-2 to 0-6).
However, 1-5 without reply in the third quarter - a spell in which Darragh Joyce scored a smashing goal - left a flapping Marist with too much to do and the Athlone lads simply didn't have enough to pull it off.
In truth it was a sporting travesty that Good Counsel trailed at the break. They dominated midfield, and in hand with that controlled the lion's share of possession. However, often from great Marist defending and sometimes from overplaying, the eventual victors didn't have the scores to go with that superiority.
Maybe it was the effort exerted to stay in the game in the first-half that was Marist's downfall after the break. They couldn't quite match that intensity early in the second period and paid the biggest price for that - their championship lives.
Marist actually got off to a flying start. Moments after Conor Gleeson pointed a free, Luke Carty and Aaron Roarke combined through the heart of the Good Counsel defence and the former smashed a shot to the roof of Cian O'Connor's net (1-1 to nil).
The New Ross school responded with a pointed Jason Shiely free but missed several opportunities before four points in five minutes gave them the lead. Tadhg Cody started the burst with a close-range point and three more followed from Bob Whitty, Mikey Dwyer and Thomas O'Connor.
On a rare foray forward, Aaron Roarke levelled for the Westmeath school (1-2 to 0-5). Whitty saw his goalbound effort saved by Conor Devaney but Shiely's second dead ball did give Good Counsel the lead heading into added time.
Yet another sucker punch, with Conor Quinn and Jack McDonnell combining to send Roarke away to goal, meant Good Counsel went in at the interval behind and with it all to do.
Success breeds confidence and with eight of last year's All-Ireland winning Junior side starting the game, and another two coming off the bench at half-time, the New Ross boys showed no lack of it after the resumption.
Shiely pointed three times, twice from frees, while influential replacement Jamie Myler also pointed as Counsel went from two behind to two ahead by the 42nd minute.
The vital moment came two minutes later when a one-two between Darragh Joyce and Mikey Dwyer sent the former away to blast home his school's only goal to put them 1-10 to 2-2 ahead.
When Whitty tapped over moments later to end a superb third quarter, Good Counsel looked destined for victory. However, Marist had their best spell in the final quarter and put their opponents under sustained pressure for the first time.
Yet, they never looked like scoring the goal they needed and were only able to add points from Ross Cooper and Cathal Mannion (two). Their head of steam was stopped when Myler pointed in the 60th minute and Good Counsel easily held on in added time.
The New Ross school now go into the semi-final draw which is scheduled for February 2. Also in the mix are St. Mel's from Longford, St. Mary's from Edenderry and the winners of Patrician (Newbridge) and Dundalk Schools.
Good Counsel: Cian O'Connor; David Kelly, Donnacha O'Connor, Seán Barden; Eoin Porter, Joe Sutton, Bryan Power; Darragh Lyons, Darragh Joyce (1-0); Jason Shiely (0-5, 4 frees), Mikey Dwyer (0-1), Tadhg Cody (0-1); Adam Swan, Bob Whitty (0-2), Thomas O'Connor (0-1 free). Subs. - Ian Carty for Kelly (31), Jamie Myler (0-2) for Cody (31).
Marist: Conor Devaney; Martin Nolan, Emmet Nally, James Curley; Michael McGloin, Eoin McCormack, Corey Reid; Ross Cooper (0-1 free), Daniel Reid; Conor Quinn, Jack McDonnell, Luke Carty (1-0); Conor Gleeson (0-1 free), Aaron Roarke (1-1), Brian Stack. Subs. - Cathal Mannion (0-2, 1 free) for McDonnell (42), Adam Daly for C. Reid (46).
Referee: Pat Moran (Laois).