O’Connor sends gallant St. Mel’s marching out

St. Mel’s College bowed out of the Leinster Senior Football Championship after a resilient St. Peter’s College of Wexford finally got the better of them in extra-time at Stradbally GAA grounds on Wednesday of last week.

St. Mel’s College bowed out of the Leinster Senior Football Championship after a resilient St. Peter’s College of Wexford finally got the better of them in extra-time at Stradbally GAA grounds on Wednesday of last week.

Despite showing encouraging signs from their north Leinster league campaign before the Christmas break, the Longford School failed to deliver on that promise and played catch up for long periods of this entertaining contest.

Battling against the prevailing wind in the first half, St. Mel’s found it particularly difficult to create any decent scoring chances in front of their opponent’s goal. Their Leinster counterparts on the other hand had better return in front of the sticks and fired over five unanswered points in the opening quarter.

St. Peter’s chief marksman, and current Irish soccer star, Kevin O’Connor proved to be the driving force behind their success. O’Connor bagged an impressive 2-10 over the course of the afternoon, seven of his 10-point haul coming from the placed ball.

St. Mel’s gave away a lot of cheap frees from scorable positions throughout the first half exchanges and they can have every right to feel somewhat aggrieved with a number of these decisions made by match referee. Nevertheless the Wexford School took full advantage and made them pay dearly for their schoolboy mistakes.

Ten minutes had passed before St. Peter’s registered the games first score. Kevin O’Connor delighted his supporters with a fantastic long-range effort off his right boot. O’Connor continued to stamp his authority on proceedings and slotted over three further points in the opening half hour of play.

St. Mel’s finally broke their duck in the 21st minute after Larry Moran won and converted a close range free. Moran gave a terrific account of himself all through this keenly contested encounter and finished the game with a personal contribution of 1-4.

After the half time interval, St. Mel’s quickly started to turn things around and reduced the deficit back to a one point game thanks to close range free from Killian Farrell and a well executed goal from Kryspin Pliszczynski.

The Longford School remarkably snatched the lead in the 37th minute after they netted their second goal in so many minutes. Larry Moran picked out his Killoe club mate Paddy Kiernan on the edge of the small rectangle and Kiernan drilled his shot to the roof of the St Peter’s net.

This brief purple patch from St. Mel’s was short lived however, as St. Peter’s upped the tempo and swiftly replied with their first goal from their potent corner-forward Kevin O’Connor.

In the closing minutes of normal time, O’Connor thought he had won the game for his school when he fired over two dead ball efforts in the final minute, but St. Mel’s refused to go down without a fight and a superb long range point from the left peg of Larry Moran forced the game into extra-time.

Both teams showed all the hallmarks of fatigue entering extra-time. St. Peter’s nonetheless endured the pain barrier and got themselves into a two cushion following points from Donal Shanley and a free from Kevin O’Connor.

Killian Farrell bridged the gap back to one point for St. Mel’s with minutes remaining in the final quarter, but a late goal from man-of-the-match Kevin O’Connor sealed St. Mel’s fate with practically the last kick of the game.

SCORERS: St. Mel’s K Farrell 0-3f, K Pliszczynski 1-0, P Kiernan 1-0, L Moran 1-4, 2f. St. Peter’s: C Deveaux 0-1, J Cartly 0-1, D Shanley 0-2 1 ‘45’, K O’Connor 2-10, 7f,

ST. MEL’S: Dylan McGoey, Dessie Reynolds, Adrian Duffy, Niall Keenan, John Lynch, Fergal Keenan, Daniel Cox, Killian Farrell, Ronan Sweeney, Kryspin Pliszczynski, Alan Sorohan, Ronan Duffy, Liam Moran, Paddy Kiernan, Niall Kelly.

Subs used: Shane Tully for R. Duffy (37 mins), Liam Hughes for K. Pliszcynski (50 mins), Shane Kelly for N. Kelly (53 mins), Shane McCormack for D. Cox (65 mins), Niall Kelly for L. Hughes (70 mins), Nathan Conroy for S. McCormack (77 mins), Kevin Leavy for R. Sweeney (78 mins).

ST. PETER’S Dylan Owens, Jim Rossiter, Shane Donohue, Tony Hennessey, Graham Staples, Eoghan Nolan, Nevin Rossiter, Padraig Foley, Connor Deveaux, Bill Eviston, Jamie Carthy, Jason Pettit, Kevin O’Connor, Andy Butler, Donal Shanley.

Subs used: Jake Fairman for J. Pettit (42 mins), Aaron Maddorck for J. Carthy (52 mins).