A dominant first half display helped St Fergal’s of Rathdowney book their place in the Leinster Vocational Schools Junior hurling final on Wednesday last, as they were just too strong for Banagher College.
Leinster Vocational Schools Junior hurling final
St Fergal’s 2-18
Banagher College 2-12
Played on the all-weather pitch in Heywood, the surface was perfect but conditions certainly were not, as a strong wind blowing directly down the field made it very difficult on the teams. Add in a couple of heavy rain showers too, and it was to the credit of both teams that such an entertaining game was served up.
St Fergal’s won the toss and had wind advantage in the first half, something that would prove crucial as the game wore on. Banagher actually opened the scoring after just 24 seconds, through Killian Woods, but that would be the only time they lead. Liam O’Connell landed a 65 in response for Rathdowney a minute later, before Mark Kavanagh broke away from Fergal Hanamy and fired a shot past Michael Carroll.
Conor Meagher added a point for St Fergal’s as they hit 1-2 without reply in two minutes, and it was always going to be a long half for Banagher after that. The impress Eoin Woods got the first of his five points with a nice effort soon after Meagher’s score, but St Fergal’s pushed further ahead moments later. Colm Fitzpatrick and Mark Kavanagh (2) pointed before a long ball in from the Rathdowney half back line bounced all the way through to Shane Bowe, and he flicked it to the net to open up an eight point lead. Banagher responded with a couple of points from Donal Mahon and Eoin Woods, before luck finally came there way when a shot from Ronan Hughes was fumbled into the net by Philip Bergin. Both teams managed two more points apiece before half time, but Rathdowney were still well in control as they lead 2-11 to 1-5.
Banagher needed to come out strongly at the start of the second half, but St Fergal’s surprised them by scoring the first two points after the restart. Banagher needed some time to settle after that, but once they did they had their most productive spell of the game. Eoin Woods pointed before Ciaran Fogartyswept a shot past Philip Bergin to get them within six.
Brothers Cillian and Eoin Woods then both managed to find the target as Banagher steadily ate into the St Fergal’s lead, with just four points now separating the teams. Needing to come up with a response, Rathdowney managed to relieve some of the pressure with a point from Stephen Phelan. There would not be another score for seven minutes, but St Fergal’s began to dominate possession, and while they missed a string of chances, they had at least disrupted Banagher’s momentum. They rattled off three more points without reply after that to suck the life out of Banagher, and St Fergal’s eventually ran out comfortable six point winners.
SCORERS - St Fergal’s: Mark Kavanagh 1-8 (0-3 frees), Shane Bowe 1-2, Jack Kelly, Stephen Phelan, Conor Meagher 0-2 each, Liam O’Connell (65), Colm Fitzpatrick 0-1 each; Banagher College: Eoin Woods 0-5, Killian Woods 0-4 (0-2 frees), Ronan Hughes, Ciaran Fogarty 1-0 each, Donal Mahon 0-2, Michael Dolan 0-1
ST FERGAL’S: Philip Bergin (Rathdowney-Errill); Pat Phelan (Clough-Ballacolla), Lee Cleere (Clough-Ballacolla), Jack Creagh (Rathdowney-Errill); Padraig Fortune (Rathdowney-Errill), Liam O’Connell (Rathdowney-Errill), Jack Kelly (Rathdowney-Errill); Colm Fitzpatrick (Borris-Kilcotton), Eoin Fitzpatrick (Borris-Kilcotton); Robbie Phelan (Clough-Ballacolla), Stephen Phelan (Borris-Kilcotton), Finbar Conway (Clough-Ballacolla); Mark Kavanagh (Rathdowney-Errill), Shane Bowe (Rathdowney-Errill), Conor Meagher (Rathdowney-Errill). Subs: Kevin O’Dea (Rathdowney-Errill) for Conway (40 mins)
BANAGHER COLLEGE: Michael Carroll (Kiltormer); Darren Healy (Lusmagh), Aaron Daly (St Rynagh’s), Fergal Hanamy (St Rynagh’s); Sean Frehill (Kiltormer), Ben Conneely (St Rynagh’s), Mark Connaughton (Belmount); Donal Mahon (Lusmagh), Ronan Hughes (St Rynagh’s), Shane Healy (Lusmagh), Ciaran Fogarty (St Rynagh’s), Oisín Kelly (Belmount); Eoin Woods (St Rynagh’s), Killian Woods (St Rynagh’s), Evan Kelly (Lusmagh). Subs: Stephen Dolan (St Rynagh’s) for Fogarty (47 mins), Michael Dolan (Kiltormer) for E Kelly (53 mins)
Referee: Eoin Scully (Camross)