St Mary’s CBS bid to reach a first Leinster college’s senior hurling final in decades ended in bitter disappointment when they lost of to Wexford’s Gorey Community College after a titanic battle at Dr Cullen Park in Carlow.
Portlaoise CBS 2-6
Gorey CS 2-11
It is certainly a semi-final that they could and should have won and the five point margin at the end did not do justice to their heroic efforts in terrible conditions. They were not helped by some amazing refereeing decisions that went against them throughout the game and that proved costly in the end.
Portlaoise got a great start and led by 1-2 to no score after 10 minutes, but a couple of defensive mistakes and easy frees conceded saw them 2-6 to 1-3 in arrears at the break. They produced a magnificent second half but missed at least three clear goal opportunities. They also had a number of frees that they failed to convert and late points from Gorey advanced them to the final.
Gorey included a number of players who starred against Laois in this years Leinster minor hurling championship and Conor McDonald and Conor Devitt were once again to prove difficult for the CBS defence to handle. McDonald was the star player that day in Wexford Park and once again, while well held for 20 minutes, he was to finish two goals before the break.
The CBS got off to the perfect stat when after six minutes a long ball in from Ciaran McEvoy was won by team captain Darragh Nolan in front of the full back and taking him on and racing through the defence he crashed the ball to the net.
Nolan then set up Michael Scully for a fine point with a goal on again and 11 minutes in Nolan had another golden goal opportunity but the keeper made a brilliant save to deflect the ball for a 65, which McEvoy converted and things were looking good for the CBS.
Lee Owley eventually got Gorey off the mark and Conor McDonald converted two frees and then showed his strength and talent as he cut through the Portlaoise defence and fired home a splendid goal to put his side ahead for the first time.
The CBS were back on level terms when Cian Taylor converted after Darragh Nolan was fouled in attack, but immediately disaster struck when a ball came back off the crossbar and McDonald was on hand to tip the ball into the CBS net. Points from Cathal Dunbar and Conor Devitt gave Gorey a six point half time advantage which hardly did justice to the contribution of the Laois lads to that first half.
The CBS dominated most for the second half and against the wind held Gorey to six points, with Devitt opening the scoring with a splendid score but Conor Ryan quickly cancelled that out.
The Portlaoise defence were magnificent in the second half but at the other end they had little luck with Cian Taylor twice breaking through the centre of the Gorey defence and with goals for the taking his rasping shots just scraped over the crossbar the second with just eight minutes left. Two minutes later Ciaran O’Brien got through but his shot for goal was brilliantly saved by a full length dive from the keeper while they were also off target from three scoreable frees.
With three minutes remaining Conor Ryan eventually got the goal they needed and the CBS threw everything into retrieving the game, but alas Gorey got the final score from a Conor McDonald free for a four point winning margin and a place in the final.
It was a gallant effort from the CBS side and they will be left wondering at what might have been had they got a little luck, won a few marginal calls and taken the opportunities presented.
SCORERS - Gorey: Conor McDonald 2-5, Lee Owley 0-3, Conor Devitt 0-2, Cathal Dunbar 0-1; St Mary’s CBS: Conor Ryan 1-1, Darragh Nolan 1-0, Cian Taylor 0-3, Ciaran O’Brian 0-1, Michael Scully 0-1
GOREY CC: Darren Hughes; Sean O’Brien, Michael O’Brien, Ben Egan; Eoin Walsh, Eoin Conroy, Daryl Murphy; John Doyle, Cathal Dunbar; Conor McDonald, Kevin Molloy, Conor Devitt; Lee Owley, Yusef Frih, Tomas Murphy.
PORTLAOISE CBS: Eoin Carroll; Chris Lynch, Martin Norton, Caolan Murphy; Eoin Phelan, Ciaran McEvoy, Dennis Cahill; Gary Bergin, Evin Keane; Cian Taylor, Conor Ryan, Ciaran O’Brien; Cathal O’Connor, Darragh Nolan (Capt), Michael Scully. Subs: Daniel Delaney, Oisin Nolan, Ciaran Flynn, Philip Roche, Eanna Lyons, John Finlay, Jack Kennedy.