Peter's pipped by last-gasp goal
THE JUNIOR hurlers of St. Peter's College experienced a dose of the mid-term blues in O'Kennedy Park, New Ross, on Friday last when they had the Leinster 'A' championship crown snatched from under their noses in the cruellest manner possible by Kilkenny C.B.S.
The sides were deadlocked on 0-13 each and over five minutes of added time had been played when Noreside midfielder Chris Kavanagh forced home the winning goal at the fourth attempt after efforts in quick succession by Robbie Murphy, Robbie O'Driscoll and Ronan Buckley were all kept out by determined defending.
It was heartbreaking stuff for the Summerhill side, although they did have two late frees which centre-back Conor Firman landed in around the square, with the second one falling to Conor Hearne whose snapshot was blocked and eventually cleared. The eight extra minutes were justified following a long stoppage near the end of normal time after C.B.S. corner-back Aaron Malone picked up a leg injury and was stretchered off.
However, the biggest talking point was the dismissal of Peter's midfielder Finn O'Driscoll following an ugly row in the 26th minute. Referee David Hickey stepped back from the melee and then took his time before making a pronouncement, consulting with all four umpires before handing yellow cards to Jack Pettit and Conor Doheny and then issuing a straight red to a distraught O'Driscoll.
It was a valiant effort in the circumstances by Peter's who had claimed a big scalp by seeing off St. Kieran's of Kilkenny on a 3-8 to 1-12 scoreline in the semi-final just three days earlier.
C.B.S., who made a mockery of the match programme by completely ignoring the numbers, had first use of the wind and looked the better side in the first quarter when full-forward Robbie O'Driscoll posed lots of problems. Free-taker Andrew Gaffney's early point was cancelled out by a fine effort from play by Rory O'Connor before O'Driscoll fired over a brace of scores to make it 0-3 to 0-1 after seven minutes.
Quinn Saunders narrowed the gap before O'Driscoll shot narrowly wide from a goal chance after good work by Chris Kavanagh. Johnny McEvoy and free-taker Gaffney widened the gap to three, but Billy Dunne's first converted placed ball kept Peter's in the hunt, with both teams deploying a sweeper (Ciaran Murphy for the Wexford lads) as the middle third was crowded with extra bodies.
Bill Sheehan and Andrew Gaffney (free) stretched the Kilkenny C.B.S. advantage to 0-7 to 0-3 but the wides mounted for the leaders too, with nine shots missing the target before the break compared to just two from their rivals. Two more Billy Dunne frees brought the margin down to 0-7 to 0-5 by half-time, but that sending-off left Peter's with a mountain to climb despite now having the advantage of the elements.
They resumed in tremendous style though, playing some outstanding hurling to pick off five unanswered points in the first eight minutes to surge 0-10 to 0-7 clear thanks to Billy Dunne (two frees), Jack Pettit (two) and Rory O'Connor.
It took a serious effort from Kilkenny C.B.S. to stay in contention, and the player chiefly responsible was centre-back Conor Doheny who filled the free man role and expertly judged the flight of Peter's deliveries into their forwards. The difference was down to the minimum again by the end of the third quarter after Robbie O'Driscoll and Andrew Gaffney (free) pulled back points, and C.B.S. were level by the 48th minute after a Billy Dunne free drew two responses from Gaffney, the first from play (0-11 each).
Kilkenny C.B.S. had edged ahead with a neat Bill Sheehan point before that delay of over six minutes owing to injury, and when play resumed with a throw-in, Robbie O'Driscoll handpassed to Andrew Gaffney who made it 0-13 to 0-11.
St. Peter's weren't done yet though and launched another burst for glory, urged on by mentors Shane Roche and Thomas Gleeson. A Billy Dunne pointed free was followed by a superb effort by team captain Jack Pettit from the left touchline, and they really didn't deserve that twist of fate at the end as extra-time would have been far more appropriate.
St. Peter's: Michael Codd (St. Martin's); Ciaran Murphy (Buffers Alley), Aaron O'Neill (Shelmaliers), Ben Moore (St. Anne's); James Stafford (Glynn-Barntown), Conor Firman (St. Martin's), Darren Byrne (Blackwater); Finn O'Driscoll (St. Anne's), Conor Hearne (Shelmaliers); Quinn Saunders (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's, 0-1), Jack Pettit (Our Lady's Island/St. Fintan's, capt., 0-3), Rory O'Connor (St. Martin's, 0-2); Darren Codd (St. Martin's), Rowan White (Glynn-Barntown), Billy Dunne (Oulart-The Ballagh, 0-7 frees). Subs. - Ronan Devereux (Crossabeg-Ballymurn) for O'Neill (25), Darragh Kenny (St. Martin's) for D. Codd (HT), Cian Ryan (St. Martin's) for Kenny (45), Kyle Firman (St. Martin's) for Saunders (55), Dean Whelan (Blackwater) for Byrne (60 + 5), also Ciaran Joyce (Glynn-Barntown), Aodhan Doyle (Naomh Eanna), Fiach O Crualaoich (Faythe Harriers), Ger Dempsey (Glynn-Barntown), Frankie Hynes (Glynn-Barntown), Barry O'Connor (St. Martin's).
Kilkenny C.B.S.: Eoin Byrne; Aaron Malone, Shane Mahony, Kieran Ryan; Conor Fitzpatrick, Conor Doheny (joint capt.), Marc Drennan (joint capt.); Chris Kavanagh (1-0), John Quinn; Andrew Gaffney (0-7, 5 frees), Jay Leahy, Johnny McEvoy (0-1); Bill Sheehan (0-2), Robbie O'Driscoll (0-3), Sean Bolger. Subs. - Robbie Murphy for Leahy, inj. (23), Declan Wall for Quinn (41), Ronan Buckley for Malone, inj. (60).
Referee: David Hickey (Carlow).