Wexford CBS make amends as Millar hits the winner to consign hurling loss to history

Wexford CBS 2-8 Gorey CS 1-10

HAT A difference a week makes! It was clear from an early stage seven days earlier that Wexford CBS wouldn’t be winning the inaugural county schools first year hurling final, but they bounced back in style with a spirited come-from-behind performance to take the football title at the expense of an unlucky Gorey CS in Chadwicks Wexford Park on Saturday.

The battling Boker Boys sealed the deal with a storming show in the closing quarter, recovering from the concession of a quality goal to hit an unanswered 1-2 and kick-start joyous celebrations among the purple and gold contingent.

While Gorey led by 0-8 to 1-1 at half-time, Wexford CBS got back on level terms (1-6 to 0-9) before a quality finish looked to have swung this closely-contested game in favour of the north county school once again.

Fast and accurate centre-forward Pearce Somers took off at pace and played a one-two before rifling low to the Clonard end net near the end of the third quarter.

Lewis Nolan followed up with his second point to stretch the Gorey lead to 1-10 to 1-6, but a Wexford CBS side featuring Eoin Barry – son of Redmond, the former county star – at full-back knuckled down and got three key scores in a four-minute period to edge ahead at the key stage.

The disappointment of losing the hurling final to Good Counsel clearly drove them on, and they were back in with a big shout when Seán O’Brien netted from close range after a shot by captain Eoghan Kehoe was saved by capable Gorey goalkeeper Evan Halford with eleven minutes left.

The equaliser arrived when wing-back Aaron Mullally roared at his St. Martin’s team-mate Charlie Mullan who was lining up a free. Mullally gratefully accepted the short pass, played a quick give-and-go with his colleague, and arrowed over a beautiful kick that made it 2-7 to 1-10.

And although nobody could have foretold it at the time – given that over six minutes remained – CBS midfielder Alex Millar then kicked the winning point when he stormed through into space before steadying himself and planting the ball between the posts.

It was only the second time that CBS had led in an entertaining contest, but it proved enough to take the title as neither side registered again in a frenetic finish.

Gorey CS full-forward Ruadhan Cullen had a shot blocked before their midfielder, Brendan Noctor, was very unfortunate to collect a second booking for a genuine attempt at a tackle.

The numbers were evened up when Aaron Mullally was shown a black card, and Gorey’s last chance came and went when Cormac Doyle was penalised for overcarrying when the Wexford CBS defence swarmed around him as he made tracks for the Clonard end goal.

A notable feature of the first-half was the presence of all six Gorey forwards on the scoresheet as they established an interval lead of 0-8 to 1-1.

James Forde – son of Pat and nephew of Matty – converted a free, with impressive centre-forward Pearce Somers nailing three from play while Ruadhan Cullen, Riccardo Mondo, Andy Kinsella and Lewis Nolan also contributed.

Charlie Mullan pointed an early free for the CBS in response to early scores from Somers and Cullen, and he also accounted for that vital goal in the seventh minute.

Full-forward Eoghan Kehoe was taken down for a penalty, and Mullan coolly tucked it into the left corner to give his team a 1-1 to 0-2 lead.

However, they didn’t register again before the break as Gorey’s attack shone and picked off six points on the bounce.

And the north county lads were only denied a goal in the 16th minute when my man of the match – outstanding Wexford CBS corner-back Donal Dwyer – produced a brilliant, brave block to smother a Ruadhan Cullen shot.

Gorey goalkeeper Evan Halford also did well to race off his line and deny Alex Millar just before the break after a sublime pass into space by Aaron Mullally.

CBS resumed on a bright note with points from Eoghan Kehoe and midfielder Anthony Roche, before Daire Cooke-Leonard hit back for Gorey to make it 0-9 to 1-3.

Three successful frees from Charlie Mullan, Kehoe and Mullan again ensured they were level by the 39th minute, but that Pearce Somers goal meant the Wexford lads had their mettle severely tested.

Their top-notch response was a source of immense delight to mentors Laura Redmond, Cillian Kehoe, Peter Kirwan and Eoin Porter, with the latter able to concentrate fully on sideline duties as a hamstring injury ruled him out of Wexford’s subsequent ill-fated clash with London.

Wexford CBS: Cillian Rossiter (Volunteers); Donal Dwyer (St. Martin’s), Eoin Barry (St. Anne’s), Tom Barrett (St. Martin’s); Rory Sidney (St. Anne’s), Darren Roche (Kilmore), Aaron Mullally (St. Martin’s, 0-1); Alex Millar (St. Mary’s, Rosslare, 0-1), Anthony Roche (Kilmore, 0-1); Mylo Perry (Sarsfields), Seán O’Brien (Volunteers, 1-0), Charlie Mullan (St. Martin’s, 1-3, 1-0 pen., 0-3 frees); Conor Doyle (Glynn-Barntown), Eoghan Kehoe (Blackwater, capt., 0-2, 1 free), Rhys Farrell-O’Connor (Sarsfields). Subs. – Ruairí O’Connor (Volunteers) for Farrell-O’Connor (29), Paddy Mernagh (St. Martin’s) for Doyle (40), also Jack Walsh (Blackwater), Josh Doyle (Sarsfields), Tadhg Flood-Houghton (St. Joseph’s), Ryan Scallan (St. Mary’s, Rosslare), Oisín Byrne (Oulart-The Ballagh), Cathal Donoghue (Shelmaliers), Cian Redmond (Sarsfields), Paddy Parle (Our Lady’s Island), Michael Carthy (Our Lady’s Island), Liam O’Brien (Shelmaliers), Killian Conway (St. Martin’s), Seán O’Connor (St. Martin’s), Rhys Kelly (St. Anne’s), A.J. Murphy (St. Mary’s, Maudlintown), Jamie Whelan (Crossabeg-Ballymurn), Ross Cowman (Sarsfields), John Clancy (Taghmon-Camross), Rory Codd (St. Joseph’s), Jowin Geo Jose (St. Mary’s, Maudlintown), Jim Kelly (Glynn-Barntown), Ríain Morris (St. Joseph’s), Joseph Leamy (Glynn-Barntown), Danny O’Reilly (St. Joseph’s), Jayden Kehoe (Sarsfields), Seán Kavanagh (Volunteers), Joshua Rea-Brennan (St. Mary’s, Maudlintown).

Gorey CS: Evan Halford (Naomh Éanna); Shane Keogh (Naomh Éanna, capt.), Enda Byrne (Ferns St. Aidan’s), Luke Doyle (Castletown); George Murphy (St. Patrick’s), Cormac Doyle (Castletown), Aidan Noctor (Castletown); Brendan Noctor (Castletown), Daire Cooke-Leonard (Naomh Éanna, 0-1); Lewis Nolan (Réalt na Mara, 0-2), Pearce Somers (Kilanerin, 1-3), Riccardo Mondo (St. Patrick’s, 0-1); James Forde (Kilanerin, 0-1 free), Ruadhan Cullen (Castletown, 0-1), Andy Kinsella (Castletown, 0-1). Subs. – Josh Finn (Castletown) for Kinsella (38), Eoghan Hogan (St. Patrick’s) for Murphy (40), also Simon McLean (Réalt na Mara), Paddy Hughes (Kilanerin), Martim Ferreira (Réalt na Mara), Richard Browne (Ferns St. Aidan’s), Callum McDonald (Naomh Éanna), Alex Kelly (Réalt na Mara), Eoin Curtis (Kilanerin), Kern O’Dwyer (Naomh Éanna), Andrew O’Brien (Naomh Éanna), Riley Timmins-Hall (Réalt na Mara), Mike Kenny (Craanford), Ravindra Daly-O’Toole (Castletown), Charlie Robinson (Naomh Éanna), Killian Kelly (St. Patrick’s), Cormac Rowsome (St. Patrick’s), Leon Gibbons (Réalt na Mara), Callum Scott-Farrell (St. Patrick’s), Paddy Kinsella (Ferns St. Aidan’s), Lorcan O’Donohoe (Naomh Éanna), Rhys Tyndall (unattached), Danny Dowling (Naomh Éanna), Sebastian Murphy (unattached), Oliver Halford (Naomh Éanna), Conor Douglas (Naomh Éanna).

Referee: Eamonn Furlong (Starlights).

FOOTNOTE: It was disappointing to see this game played without linesmen, and with only one umpire at either end. The corresponding hurling final had a full officiating team – which is precisely as it should be – and it ought to have been the same for the football.

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