Stunning second-half show seals Leinster title
Glorious Good Counsel moved just two wins away from back-to-back Junior football All-Irelands after they beat Scoil Aodháin in the Leinster Post Primary Under-16 'A' final in Netwatch Cullen Park on Monday of last week.
Good Counsel 1-12 Scoil Aodhain 1-6
The New Ross school trailed at half-time (1-5 to 0-6) but put on a stunning show in the second period to reduce their Dublin opponents to just a solitary injury time point as they screeched to a six-point success.
This team might not possess the same level of attacking flair as last year's Paul McGirr Cup winners, but their hunger, grit and defensive nous is just as evident. Scoil Aodháin had no answer to their endless energy and by the end they were simply out on their feet.
They did match Counsel for the first-half but the vast majority of Scoil Aodháin's scores in the opening period came from their opponents' errors.
The New Ross lads started a little nervously and were mixing misplaced long kickpasses with ill-advised ones.
At the other end the Metropolitans did a good job of taking their chances. Counsel did take a two-point lead from the boot of their star first-half performer, Thomas O'Connor, but Scoil Aodháin hit back with scores from Keith Campbell and Tony McCaul.
Playing with a pep in their step, James Doran sent Brian Ashton away for the Dubs and the driving midfielder powered a controlled shot past Darragh O'Connor to the top left corner of the Counsel net.
Counsel responded with a classy point from the boot of O'Connor but raised white flags from Doran and Lee Gannon left Scoil Aodháin 1-4 to 0-3 ahead after 20 minutes.
The longer the half wore on the more Good Counsel began to control proceedings against a slight breeze.
Luke Sinnott sent over a booming effort before a pair of O'Connor frees left just two points between the sides at the break (1-5 to 0-6).
Sometimes the interval can stall building momentum but that wasn't the case for Good Counsel who started the second period full of confidence.
Their hassling and harrying began to wear down their Dublin rivals whose forays over the halfway line quickly became few and far between.
A superb O'Connor pass released Seán Nolan for the first point of the half, and the provider levelled the scores from a free in the 37th minute after Jamie Myler was fouled 30 metres from goal.
Sinnott's clever feed gave Rory Higgins the chance to give his school the lead in the 44th minute, which he took with aplomb. O'Connor nailed a '45 at the second attempt to give Counsel a bit of breathing room with eight minutes remaining.
Darragh Lyons, sensational in midfield, played a perfectly-weighted ball to Myler and he floated a fine point to make it 0-11 to 1-5.
The goal that ended the Socil Aodháin challenge then arrived with two minutes of normal time remaining.
Myler, Sinnott and substitute Jimmy Sutton were all involved in an intricate passing move that ended with Seán Nolan powering a shot to the left corner of Ciarán McHugh's net.
Sinnott almost added a second major seconds later as he hared away from midfield on his own, drew the goalkeeper off his line but floated his lobbed effort just over the Scoil Aodháin crossbar.
The eventual losers did flash over a free through Campbell four minutes into added time but that score takes nothing away from an absolutely stunning team defensive performance in the second-half.
Good Counsel: Darragh O'Connor; James O'Shea, Mark O'Neill, Jack Walsh; Richard Gill, Eoin Porter, Gavin Sheehan; Andrew Walsh, Darragh Lyons (joint capt.); Seán Nolan (1-1), Thomas O'Connor (0-7, 4 frees, 1 '45), Rory Higgins (0-1); Jamie Myler (0-1), Luke Sinnott (joint capt., 0-2), Sam Wall. Subs. - Richard Hennessy for J. Walsh, inj. (19), Jimmy Sutton for Gill (35), also Diarmuid Kehoe, Eamon O'Sullivan, Darren Hayden, Cathal O'Connor, Seán Kehoe, Philip Foley, Jack Byrne-Doyle, Alex Hatt, Eric Cummins, Aaron Mythen, Fionn Slattery, Jack Culleton.
Scoil Aodháin: Ciarán McHugh; Ryan Kelly, Matt Moran, Brendan Daly; Rory Kerins, Donal Ryan (capt., 0-1), Dan Gorman; Brian Ashton (1-0), Ciarán Murphy; Keith Campbell (0-2 frees), Tony McCaul (0-1), Dylan Constantine; James Doran (0-1), Enda O'Donnell, Lee Gannon (0-1). Subs. - Jordan Leonard for Constantine (36), Ryan Harte for Gannon, inj. (46), Adam Keogh for Gorman (54), Andy McCaul for Kelly (59), Ciarán O'Connor for Daly (60 + 3).
Referee: John Hickey (Carlow).