Counsel rue costly lapse
Moate goal the difference
One defensive lapse in the lead-up to half-time proved extremely costly in Bill Delaney Park, Stradbally, on Wednesday when the dreams of a first all-Wexford Top Oil Leinster Schools Senior football 'A' championship final since 1996 died.
Moate C.S.1-9 Good Counsel 0-8
St. Peter's managed to keep their side of the bargain in Enniscorthy just three-quarters of an hour later, but unfortunately Good Counsel never fully recovered from conceding a goal to outright favourites Moate Community School in the 26th minute.
The sides were level at the time (0-3 each) when a blue and white back was caught out of position as a move out of defence was intercepted.
Moate worked the ball down the right via wing-back Kieran Kelly and, when he knocked it across the goal, Robert Forde was on hand to volley it home from close range.
It was a priceless strike in a game where every score was hard-earned. And although Counsel narrowed the gap to a point at one stage and they were never fully out of contention, the well-drilled midlanders kept their noses in front from that point on and were overjoyed at qualifying for a first-ever final in the school's current guise.
Crucially, and somewhat cruelly, it was the sole clearcut goal chance Counsel gave up as, wary of the reputation Moate brought into the game, they clogged up their defence by funnelling Richard Hennessy and Sam Wall back to offer assistance from the throw-in.
And while the Anthony Cunningham-coached victors took that one opportunity and made the most of it, Counsel had a couple of first-half opportunities that might have ended in goals on another day.
Corner-forward Oisín Knox soloed in from the left in the 17th minute but saw his shot well saved by Moate netminder Jordan Nugent.
Just before the break a partial block on a Darragh Lyons kick fell favourably into the path of Eric Cummins who didn't have much time to react before his effort was parried.
The outcome could have been entirely different if one or certainly both of those chances had been converted, but it wasn't to be for Counsel who badly missed the services of Andy Walsh and Jimmy Sutton who had been influential in some earlier rounds.
In addition, wing-forward Seán Nolan picked up a hamstring injury over the weekend and wasn't fit to start, only appearing with 20 minutes left.
Although Moate took the lead twice in the first ten minutes, courtesy of Dan Heavin and Seán Pettit, Counsel responded both times when Eoin Porter and Jamie Myler converted frees.
Myler was involved in a bizarre incident near the end of the first quarter when a water bottle thrown in his direction struck him in the groin area. He had to be substituted for three minutes, with the jeers of the Moate crowd ringing in his ears, although he took it in good spirits despite his obvious and understandable discomfort.
It was significant that Counsel never led at any stage, with a Seán Pettit free restoring Moate's lead in the 20th minute before Diarmuid Kehoe picked off the Barrowsiders' first point from play from a lateral Oisín Knox pass (0-3 each).
That Robert Forde goal followed to ensure that more than one point divided the sides for the first time, but Jamie Myler registered from a free at the death to leave Counsel trailing by 1-3 to 0-4 at the break.
The pattern of Moate scoring, and their rivals responding, continued on the re-start as an early Forde point was cancelled by Eric Cummins after an interception by Darragh Lyons.
Seán Pettit made it 1-5 to 0-5 from a '45 before Counsel registered twice in succession for the only time when Myler knocked over frees after fouls on Eoin Porter and Seán Nolan respectively.
While Porter shone in general play in a free role anchoring the defence, unfortunately his finishing let him down as he accounted for four of the team's six second-half wides, two from placed balls.
It was hoped that those two Myler scores would hand the momentum to Counsel entering the last quarter, but Moate never looked like panicking.
Pettit won a high 50-50 ball and turned smartly to fire over a precious point in the 47th minute, and the black-carding of substitute Liam O'Neill for blocking a run by Diarmuid Kehoe before a kick-out proved a blessing in disguise.
He had only been on the field for two minutes, but his replacement, Ben Cox, pointed swiftly and added another in injury time.
Counsel had gone eleven minutes without a score before Sam Wall, who initiated many of their second-half attacks from his deep role, kicked a booming point to make it 1-7 to 0-8.
Seán Nolan was blocked in a good position, and that proved to be the last throw of the dice as Robert Forde pointed a free before Ben Cox kicked the insurance score nearly four minutes into added time.
Good Counsel: Fionn Slattery (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown); Cathal O'Connor (Rathnure), Darragh O'Connor (Cloughbawn), Eamonn O'Sullivan (Horeswood); Gavin Sheehan (Gusserane), Eoin Porter (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, 0-1 free), Diarmuid Kehoe (Geraldine O'Hanrahans, 0-1); Tommy Ryan (Gusserane), Darragh Lyons (St. James', capt.); Richard Hennessy (Glenmore), Jamie Myler (St. James', 0-4 frees), Eric Cummins (Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, 0-1); Sam Wall (Gusserane, 0-1), Luke Sinnott (Taghmon-Camross), Oisín Knox (Mullinavat). Subs. - Emmett Coakley (Graiguenamanagh) for Myler, inj. (16), Myler for Coakley (19), Seán Nolan (Horeswood) for Ryan (41), Coakley for Cummins (57).
Moate C.S.: Jordan Nugent; Charlie Parker, Luke Gavin, David Mullins; Kieran Hartnett, Rúairí Aspell, Kieran Kelly; Paul Gorman, Seán Clinton; Harry Cornally, Dan Heavin (0-1), Seán Farrell (capt.); Seán Pettit (0-4, 1 free, 1 '45), David Fleming, Robert Forde (1-2, 0-1 free). Subs. - Liam O'Neill for Hartnett (47), Ben Cox (0-2) for O'Neill, black card (49), Jack Bradbury-Hughes for Aspell, inj. (55), Cathal Byrne for Clinton, inj. (60).
Referee: Brendan Hickey (Kildare).