Peter's dump keenest rivals
St. Peter's 4-12 Good Counsel 2-11
Impressive and efficient in almost everything they did, St. Peter's (Wexford) claimed a significant scalp in the Halo Tiles and Bathrooms Ferns Centre of Excellence on Friday when they ended the interest of arch-rivals Good Counsel (New Ross) in the Top Oil Leinster Schools Senior hurling 'A' championship.
While their rivalry has always been intense, knockout clashes between the two in the small ball code have been few and far between.
This was the first must-win for both since the teams travelled outside the county for a quarter-final four years ago, when Counsel won comfortably by 2-13 to 1-9 on the W.I.T. astro-turf in Carriganore.
The seven-point margin was the same on this occasion, but the tables were turned as Peter's overcame a somewhat shaky ending to the first-half to successfully steer the ship back on course and make it safely to the quarter-finals.
This clash came about as a result of the new-look losers' group format in the competition, with Peter's and Counsel granted one last chance to advance after first round losses pre-Christmas to Kilkenny C.B.S. and Dublin North respectively.
And the Summerhill side grasped the opportunity with both hands, availing of some slack Counsel defending to plunder two opportunist goals and surge clear by 2-5 to 0-3 after 24 minutes.
The Barrowsiders rallied, to their credit, picking off the last four points of the opening half into the wind to suggest that Peter's would be seriously tested on the re-start.
It didn't work out that way, though, because the leaders were on fire in the opening eight minutes of the second period and struck an unanswered 1-2 to effectively wrap up the contest.
A fourth goal followed and they led by a whopping 4-11 to 0-9 midway through the last quarter, but at least Counsel went down fighting and grabbed a couple of late consolation goals.
Peter's attacking duo Adam Cantwell and Ross Banville accounted for 3-10 between them, and the former's haul of 1-2 could easily have been 3-0 instead because his two rocket-like points were mere inches away from rattling the net.
Banville's accuracy from placed balls is almost taken as a given at this stage, but he also struck one glorious second-half point from play tight to the left sideline and into the breeze when Counsel defender Richard Foley was applying strong pressure.
Another key figure in the victory was centre-back Michael Codd who read the game admirably and launched numerous effective clearances, while Billy Dunne was strong and resourceful on his right.
And in terms of sheer workrate, the stand-out player for the victors in my view was Cian Meyler who played for the most part as a deep-lying wing-forward rendering assistance in the middle third of the field.
However, he also managed to get closer to the opposing goal and rattled home that decisive third major, a rich reward for his non-stop effort.
Banville got Peter's off the mark from a fifth-minute free before they received an early tonic in the form of a goal that should have been prevented.
A Conall Clancy lob fell short, but netminder Jack Byrne-Doyle lost the ball as he tried to clear his lines and Adam Cantwell's pull guided it over the line (1-1 to nil).
Counsel opened their account in the tenth minute with a Darragh Hartley point, moments after Dylan Lyne denied Seán O'Connor a shot on goal with a solid block close to the endline.
Diarmuid Kehoe latched on to the puck-out that followed and split the posts, but Peter's almost upped the stakes with a second goal from David Pettit's re-start.
Conall Clancy read the break and used his blistering pace honed with Menapians A.C. to bear down on goal, but Jack Byrne-Doyle saved his initial head-high shot and the attacker first-timed the rebound to the right and wide.
Two Ross Banville points, the second from play after a crossfield Michael Codd free, left Peter's clear by 1-3 to 0-2 after 18 minutes, with Counsel captain Oisín Knox pulling one back from a placed ball before the leaders enjoyed a purple patch.
Jack Devereux won the puck-out and landed a long-range point, with an Adam Cantwell exocet shaving the woodwork and going over after a Brian Deeny handpass.
The second goal that they had been threatening did arrive in the 24th minute, with Ross Banville left inside one-on-one with a defender when Cantwell hung a speculative effort into the air.
It broke behind the duo and the corner-forward was best placed to beat Jack Byrne-Doyle with a ground stroke, extending the Peter's lead to 2-5 to 0-3.
It looked curtains for Counsel, but they responded with four points on the trot in their best sustained spell in the game. Oisín Knox converted two frees before his pull drew an instinctive save from David Pettit, and Darragh Hartley scored from the resultant '65 and also added one from a free for good measure.
That interval deficit of four points appeared a lot more manageable for Counsel, especially with the advantage of the elements to come, but they were blown away by the sheer power of the Peter's second-half start.
A mere half minute had elapsed when another Cantwell drive just cleared crossbar-height.
Ross Banville knocked over a free, with Cian Meyler winning the puck-out and picking out Ben Stafford who made it 2-9 to 0-7.
And it got even worse for Counsel in the 38th minute when Jack Byrne-Doyle batted a Philip Dempsey lob out into the path of Meyler who powered it first-time to the net.
Peter's were never going to be caught thereafter, with Ross Banville registering the game's best point in between scores at the other end from a Darragh Hartley free and Seán Nolan.
The leaders' fourth goal followed in the 50th minute, with Banville calmly tucking away a penalty after his handpass had found the inrushing Cian Meyler who was hauled down (4-10 to 0-9).
Two more pointed frees from Banville brought his tally to 2-8 and completed the Peter's tally, but Counsel did manage to leave the final scoreline with a better appearance.
They had brought captain Oisín Knox out from his full-forward berth, and his driving solo runs did pose some problems for the Peter's defence.
The losers' first goal was a thing of beauty, with Seán O'Connor picking his spot in the top left corner of the net despite having precious little room to work with.
And the second arrived almost five minutes into added time, with substitute Seán Phelan slamming home a rebound after Ciarán O'Brien initially went low from a free.
Peter's and Castlecomer Community School have advanced from this side of the draw, while Kilkenny C.B.S. and Borris Vocational School are the qualifiers from the other section, having followed a win with a defeat.
And, given that the Wexford lads have already played and lost to the Noresiders (0-16 to 0-7), the assumption among mentors after Friday's win was that they will be facing the Carlow crew next.
First up, though, for the dual players is a football quarter-final against Coláiste Eoin from Stillorgan in Athy on Saturday at 2 p.m. when they put their Leinster title on the line once again.
As for Good Counsel, it's extremely unusual for the school to have exited both provincial Senior championships as early as January 12, although they still retain strong involvement in the Juvenile and Junior football grades.
St. Peter's: David Pettit (Our Lady's Island); Dylan Lyne (Glynn-Barntown), Ben Maddock (St. Martin's), Ryan Furlong (Faythe Harriers); Billy Dunne (Oulart-The Ballagh), Michael Codd (St. Martin's), Shane Doyle (Taghmon-Camross); Philip Dempsey (St. Martin's), Jack Devereux (St. Martin's, capt., 0-1); Brian Deeny (Faythe Harriers), Conall Clancy (Faythe Harriers), Cian Meyler (Our Lady's Island, 1-0); Ben Stafford (St. Martin's, 0-1), Adam Cantwell (St. Martin's, 1-2), Ross Banville (Shelmaliers, 2-8, 0-6 frees, 1-0 pen.). Subs. - Conall O Crualaoich (Faythe Harriers) for Dempsey, inj. (52), Jake Nobbs (Blackwater) for Stafford (56), Patrick O'Connor (Blackwater) for Devereux (58).
Good Counsel: Jack Byrne-Doyle (Mullinavat); Pádraig Dempsey (Mullinavat), Michael Cleere (Geraldine O'Hanrahans), Ben Ronan (Rathnure); Gavin Sheehan (Gusserane), Richard Foley (Graiguenamanagh), Pádraig Bailey (Geraldine O'Hanrahans); Diarmuid Kehoe (Geraldine O'Hanrahans, 0-1), Seán Nolan (Horeswood, 0-1); Darragh Hartley (Glenmore, 0-5, 3 frees, 1 '65), Kevin O'Donohoe (Gusserane), Ciarán O'Brien (Castletowngeoghegan, Westmeath); Seán O'Connor (Rathnure, 1-0), Oisín Knox (Mullinavat, capt., 0-4 frees), Michael Galavan (The Rower-Inistioge). Subs. - Seán Holden (Graiguenamanagh) for O'Donohoe (27), Micheál O'Connor (Rathnure) for Kehoe (45), Dylan Morrissey (Tullogher-Rosbercon) for Galavan (52), Seán Phelan (Glenmore, 1-0) for Hartley, inj. (60).
Referee: Patrick Murphy (Carlow).