This article appeared in The Irish Examiner on 09/03/2015
Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne 1-10 St Francis College, Rochestown 0-10
Another remarkable achievement in this remarkable story.
Ciarán Ó Móráin reckons there is little more than 200 boys attending Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, with the Corn Uí Mhuirí team picking from the senior classes — a catchment of no more than 70 boys. Their panel runs to 33 and not one student more, according to their manager, is interested in donning the red and white shirt. Their starting XV comprises of players from just two clubs — Dingle and An Ghaeltacht — further highlighting their limited pick.
Yesterday, Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne become only the second football nursery to annex the Corn Uí Mhúirí crown four years on the hop. It was a feat achieved with equal measure of gumption and panache.
For St Francis College, Rochestown, it was another heartbreaking chapter in a spring that promised so much.
Twelve of yesterday’s side had experienced Munster final heartache when falling to Thurles CBS in the Harty Cup decider two weeks ago and when Rory Hickey sounded the final whistle shortly before 3pm, black shirts dropped inconsolably to the ground.
Tears streamed down the cheeks of Seán Powter as he watched joint-captains Brian Ó Beaglaioch and Marc Ó Conchúir lift the Corn Uí Mhuirí. Another final. Another defeat.
Rochestown’s bid for victory looked strong on 46 minutes when Ciarán Cormack capitalised on a mistake by corner-back Conchúir Ó Súilleabháin to level matters at 1-5 to 0-8. Rochestown, through Cormack, Kingston and Liam Dineen, had fired over three unanswered scores to re-ignite their challenge. Seán Powter and Eoghan O’Brien instigated attack after attack, with the champions firmly on the back foot.
Rochestown, under the cosh for much of a poor decider, played on a poor surface, and had not led since the sixth minute. Had they engineered the leading score thereafter, who knows what would have happened?
Instead, from the ensuing kick-out, Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne worked possession through the hands of the tried and trusted — Tom Ó Súilleabháin, Brian Ó Beaglaioch, Marc Ó Conchúir and Conchúir Ó Géibheannaigh.
A sweeping move finished with Cathal Ó Bambaire’s point. The lead once more rested with Dingle, and Rochestown’s self-belief slowly ebbed away.
Ó Bambaire slipped inside Donnchadh Murphy in the subsequent action to extend the advantage and the gap was out to three when Tom Ó Súilleabháin converted from a tight angle (1-8 to 0-8).
Rochestown summoned one final charge nine minutes from the end. Evan Ryle’s cross-field kick was gathered by Cormack, offloaded to Cathal Sheehan and the substitute kicked one of the scores of the afternoon.
Liam Dineen would register their first wide of the second-half from a scoreable free, but Cormack’s punched point ensured they were still within touching distance as the clock spilled into time added on.
The experience garnered from five successive Corn Uí Mhuirí final appearances rose to the surface in the two minutes allotted by Hickey, as Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne remained relaxed and composed in possession.
Tom Ó Súilleabháin and Marc Ó Conchúir stuck their heads above the parapet to land the winning scores.
The tense conclusion was far removed from a mundane and error-ridden opening, almost half of the first period played out without a score.
Evan Ryle had Rochestown off the mark after three minutes, the sole occasion they would enjoy the scoreboard advantage.
On seven minutes, and out of nothing, Corca Dhuibhne conjured the only goal of the replayed final. Gearóid Hicí Ó Brosnacháin and Cathal Ó Bambaire teed up Conchúir Ó Géibheannaigh and the corner-forward slotted the ball past keeper Paddy Lynch into the bottom left corner of the Roco net. Almost 15 minutes would pass before either side added to their tally; Kevin O’Donovan, Cormack and a subdued Kingston (free) swapping points with Tom Ó Súilleabháin and Ó Géibheannaigh, with the champions leading 1-3 to 0-4 at the break.
Early second-half points from Ó Bambaire and Ó Géibheannaigh suggested Corca Dhuibhne put the Kerry side in control. While they were pushed all the way, they deservedly retained the title.
Scorers for Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne: C Ó Géibheannaigh (1-3, 0-2 frees); T Ó Súilleabháin, C Ó Bambaire (0-3 each); M Ó Conchúir (0-1).
Scorers for St Francis College, Rochestown: S Kingston (0-2 frees, 0-1 ’45), C Cormack (0-3 each); E Ryle, K O’Donovan, C Sheehan, L Dineen (0-1 each).
POBALSCOIL CHORCA DHUIBHNE: L De Bhailís (Daingean Uí Chúis); C Ó Súilleabháin (Daingean Uí Chúis), T Ó Súilleabháin (Daingean Uí Chúis), C Ó Murchú (An Ghaeltacht); A Ó Conchúir (Daingean Uí Chúis), B Ó Beaglaioch (An Ghaeltacht), T Ó Súilleabháin (Daingean Uí Chúis); M Ó Conchúir (Daingean Uí Chúis), P Mac An tSíthigh (An Ghaeltacht); M Ó Gormáin (An Ghaeltacht), S Ó Gairbhia (An Ghaeltacht), G H Ó Brosnacháin (Daingean Uí Chúis); C Ó Bambaire (Daingean Uí Chúis), S Ó Muircheartaigh (An Ghaeltacht), C Ó Géibheannaigh (Daingean Uí Chúis).
Subs: PJ Mac Láimh (An Ghaeltacht) for Ó Brosnacháin (HT), BS Mac an Bhradáin (Rinn Mhaoil, Gaillimh) for Ó Muircheartaigh (57), T Mac An tSíthigh for Ó Bambaire (bc, 60).
ST FRANCIS COLLEGE, ROCHESTOWN: P Lynch (St Michael’s); K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), N Quirke (Carrigaline), D Murphy (Douglas); A Geaney (Douglas), D Griffin (Carrigaline), S Powter (Douglas); E O’Brien (Douglas), E Ryle (Carrigaline); L Dineen (Douglas), D Meaney (St Michael’s), L O’Sullivan (St Michael’s); M McAuliffe (Douglas), C Cormack (St Michael’s), S Kingston (Douglas).
Subs: C Sheehan (Douglas) for O’Sullivan (52), D Stack (Carrigaline) for Murphy (52).
Referee: R Hickey (Clare).
Cathal Ó Bambaire’s point on 48 minutes. Rochestown had kicked three on the hop to level matters, but their momentum, and, indeed, bid to regain the lead was stemmed by the Dingle corner-forward.
Talk of the town
A fourth consecutive Corn Úi Mhuirí crown for Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, only the second school to achieve such a feat. Tralee CBS, between 1931 and 1934, were the only other side to do so.
Did that just happen?
Tom Ó Suilleabháin kicked two second-half points off the left boot from exactly the same position – inside the Rochestown 20-metre line to the left of the posts.
Best on show
Half-back Tom Ó Suilleabháin was a class apart. Kicked three superb points and was a central figure, along with Brian Ó Beaglaioch, in Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne’s immense defensive effort.
Black card watch
Cathal Ó Bambaire was correctly black-carded on 60 minutes for deliberately pulling his opponent to the ground to slow down the play.
Decision of Rochestown management to leave Shane Kingston operating at corner-forward for much of the final despite the limited amount of possession filtering through was questionable.
The man in black
Roco were none too pleased with the performance of Rory Hickey. Majority of key decisions swung in favour of Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne. Certainly, Rochestown’s Daniel Meaney was fouled as he burst through for a goal on six minutes but Hickey waved play on.
Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne advance to the All-Ireland semi-final where they await the winners of the MacRory Cup decider. Rochestown turn their attention back to the small ball, they meet St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny in the All-Ireland quarter-final on Saturday.