A bridge too far for Wexford CBS
All-Ireland Schools Final: St Joseph's (Calway) 3 Wexford CBS 0
After a spectacular run of victories took them to the Bank of Ireland FAI Schools first year boys' national Cup final, Wexford C.B.S. simply came up against a team loaded with quality in Leah Victoria Park, Tullamore, on Wednesday.
Make no mistake, St. Joseph's College (Galway) are a fantastic side. Any team that wins a national semi-final 5-0, like they did against a provincial champion in St. Eunan's of Letterkenny, clearly has plenty of talent within their squad.
They were superb; strong defensively, creative in midfield and powerful up top, and they were big, physical and had no weaknesses. It really was a hurdle too far for the Boker boys; they gave it a great shot but it just wasn't to be.
The great thing about the Wexford first years is that they have more chances. Players develop and improve at different rates, hard work usually pays off, and they will get the chance next season to compete in the Minor boys' championship for Under-15s.
C.B.S. have a real chance to improve in that time. They possess a lot of lads who would count soccer as their favourite sport and, with the help of the clubs in the area, they can continue to compete on the highest domestic stage.
Their quality starts in goal with Cian Roche who was probably the more impressive of the two 'keepers but was the busier. The C.B.S. defence was up against two really talented attackers and kept them at bay for long periods.
In midfield the Wexford school were busy and probed but they found that their equals from Galway were just as determined. C.B.S. created few clearcut chances but it wasn't from lack of effort from the front two, as they were up against centre-halves that have every chance of becoming career footballers.
C.B.S. actually started pretty well, got a free-kick they probably shouldn't have had for ball-to-hand in the second minute and caused panic in the Galway penalty area with a fantastic Jack Foley delivery.
Then John Hore and Eoin Hartigan combined well in midfield and almost got Aaron Roche away, but James Egan in the St. Joseph's goal came to sniff out the danger.
Slowly the game started to change and Galway got on top. Gary Higgins swung a great ball into the box in the 16th minute that both Liam Melody and Rory O'Brien narrowly failed to connect with. At the other end Darragh Carley's deflected effort was easily handled by Egan between the sticks.
'The Bish' took the lead four minutes before the break. Adam White's through ball wasn't dealt with in the C.B.S. defence and Darragh O'Malley didn't need a second invitation as he broke clear on goal and smashed past a helpless Cian Roche. It could, maybe should, have been two when O'Malley flashed a close-range header over the bar three minutes later.
While the Galway guys dominated the early stages of the second-half, they didn't create much. In fact, Wexford C.B.S. went close in the 41st minute when Jack Foley's cross was glanced wide by Darragh Carley, up from the back. A speculative Kyle Clancy effort then bounced over and off the Galway goalkeeper and clipped the crossbar.
Pushing more men forward, gaps began to open in the C.B.S. defence. Liam Melody ran down the right, got to the byline and squared for O'Malley to bring out a great save from Cian Roche. From the resulting Gary Higgins corner, Conall Gallagher volleyed home to all but end the Boker boys' hopes.
Roche made excellent stops from O'Malley and Melody as St. Joseph's looked to end the C.B.S. challenge. They wrapped up the title with four minutes remaining when Luke O'Gorman lofted to the top-left corner after the Roche's save from Melody's initial shot fell perfectly into his path.
That's how it finished for Wexford C.B.S., and a hugely impressive season for the Leinster champions ended with a little disappointment. No doubt the upset won't last for long, as they will re-group and go again for the Minor next year.
Wexford C.B.S.: Cian Roche; John O'Sullivan, Darragh Carley, Callum Corcoran (capt.), Jack Foley; John Hore, Eoin Hartigan, Michael Mackey, Kyle Clancy; Aaron Roche, Jack Wilde. Subs. - Josh Howlin for O'Sullivan (53), Jack Mullen for O'Sullivan (60+1), also Jack Dempsey, Eoin Doyle, Tommy Gallagher, Adrian Jasiewicz, Conor Heath, Kyle Carroll, Pablo Carrasco, Jack Corcoran, Luke Cullen-Ryan.
St. Joseph's: James Egan; Ronan Bambara, Conall Gallagher, Harry Browne, Churchill Idemudia; Luke O'Gorman, Rory O'Brien, Adam White, Gary Higgins (capt.); Liam Melody, Darragh O'Malley. Subs. - Michael O'Connor for O'Malley, inj. (60+1), Cian Griffin for Idemudia, inj. (60+4).
Referee: Martin Kelly.