James Moran on the ball for St Mel's College against Patrician SS, Newbridge in the Leinster Schools Senior 'A' Football Championship Round 1 game last week. Photo: Declan Gilmore
Full-forward Cian Dooner scored the crucial goal a couple of minutes before the break as St Mel’s made a winning start in the Leinster Schools Senior ‘A’ Football Championship.
St Mel’s College . . . 1-12 Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge 0-12
Dooner flicked the ball to the net after connecting with a Daire O’Brien ‘45’ to leave the Longford college in a commanding 1-8 to 0-3 lead at half-time in the Group A Round 1 clash against Patrician Secondary School, Newbridge at Glennon Brothers Pearse Park on Wednesday last week.
It was a different story in the second half as the Co Kildare side staged a determined comeback in closing the gap to just three points in the finish and while they created a few goal chances they were unable to find the back of the net.
St Mel’s keeper Eoin McGuinness made a vital save to keep out a shot from Patrician SS substitute Joe Cluskey in the closing stages as Jimmy Gacquin’s side held out for a hard earned victory.
The focus is now firmly fixed on the other group fixture away to Dublin opponents St Aidan’s Whitehall in the quest to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Powered by the impressive Daire O’Brien at centrefield with chief marksman Cian Dooner a constant threat in attack, scoring a total of 1-5, St Mel’s dominated the first half and there appeared to be no way back for the Newbridge outfit.
When centre-half-back Paulis Merkelis landed a terrific point in the 19th minute St Mel’s were 0-7 to 0-0 in front with a brace of scores coming from corner-forward Robbie O’Connell who was operating effectively in a roving role.
Cian Dooner fired over three points (two frees) with Cian O Nuallain also on target while Patrician SS had to wait until the 20th minute for their first score, a free converted by Mark Browne.
Two more frees followed from Browne during the remainder of the first half and the visitors made a strong start on the changeover with quick points from Ben Scanlon and Sean McDonnell.
Back came St Mel’s with a well struck score from Robbie O’Connell when a goal was on but they were restricted to just three more points, a couple of fine efforts from the accurate boot of Cian Dooner with Liam Sheridan also shooting over the bar.
Dooner got St Mel’s final score in the 45th minute after Patrician SS had fired over four more points through Adam Meehan, Mark Browne (2) and wing back Sean Morrissey to keep their hopes alive with the score standing at 1-12 to 0-10.
Although they had much the better of the exchanges in the final quarter of the contest in piling on the pressure, the best they could manage was two more points from Meehan and Scanlon (free) but St Mel’s lived very dangerously indeed and were fortunate not to concede a goal in a fierce battle to survive.
ST MEL’S COLLEGE: Eoin McGuinness (Longford Slashers); Paul Brady (Killoe), Jack Magan (Killashee), Liam Harte (Killoe); James Moran (Killoe), Paulis Merkelis (Longford Slashers, 0-1), Michael McCann (Clonguish); Daire O’Brien (Longford Slashers, 0-1), Padraic Joyce (Mostrim); Liam Sheridan (Clonguish, 0-1), Cian O Nuallain (Longford Slashers, 0-1), Diarmuid Sheahan (Longford Slashers); Robbie O’Connell (Longford Slashers, 0-3), Cian Dooner (Killoe, 1-5, two points from frees); Mario Pirlog (Longford Slashers).
Subs:- Paddy Duggan (Longford Slashers) for M McCann (half-time); Jack Duggan (Clonguish) for M Pirlog (56 mins).
PATRICIAN SS, NEWBRIDGE: John Leamy; Dylan Burke, Tom Harrington, Dylan Cosgrove; Sean Morrissey (0-1), Stephen Hughes, Cian Buckley; Sean Tiernan, Ed Bennett; Ben Scanlon (0-2, one free), Karl Hartley, Muris Curtin; Sean McDonnell (0-2), Adam Meehan (0-2), Mark Browne (0-5, three frees).
Subs:- Eamon Kiernan and Billy Campbell for M Curtin and M Browne (49 mins); Joe Cluskey for S McDonnell (55 mins).
Referee: Michael Gordon (Westmeath).