Good Counsel Retain McGirr Cup in Thriller
All-Ireland Post Primary Schools McGirr Cup (Junior Football)
Good Counsel College New Ross
Referee: Derek O Mahoney
Thomas O’Connor's top level future may lie away from Gaelic football but
the youngster was absolutely sublime in Clonmel yesterday afternoon when his
Good Counsel College, New Ross, side made it back to back Paul McGirr Cup
The Masita GAA All-Ireland Post Primary Schools
U16 cup is one of the hottest trophies around and O'Connor, who is reportedly
set to join Southampton FC after he finishes his junior certificate, is
undoubtedly one of the hottest properties in the game. The Kilkenny native -
and Republic of Ireland U15 soccer international - scored two goals from
the penalty spot and added four points from play from a personal haul of 2-6.
It's incredible to note that O’Connor was also
the best player on the field when his side beat Rochestown in last year's
decider. On that day he scored 0-8.
But yesterday's 2-12 - 3-7 win against St
Brendan's Killarney surely tops the lot. It was an action-packed, end to end
game, one that was played in the perfect spirit of pure Gaelic football.
"It was a breath of fresh air to see two
sides eager to play football without a blanket defence," Said co-manager
Kevin Bates, who led the team to glory with Kevin Kehoe.
"This resulted in a very exciting and free
flowing game where the skills of both forward and defender were on display.
"Brendan's really stayed true to the Kerry
traditions and their boys played with great skill and determination which left
the game in the balance until the very end," Bates added.
The GC manager added that the manner in which
the game was played really absorbed the fine crowd in attendance.
"Yeah, the game was played in a great
spirit with great support for both sides in the stands in a game that really
was an advert for the sport. We are delighted with the result of course."
Bates could not ignore the impact that O'Connor
had but pointed out that there were several other support acts who stepped up
to the mark and lit up centre stage themselves.
"While Thomas O' Connor's performance was
quite exceptional at centre forward, he was very well supported by a gifted
group of players who created their own little bit of history for Good Counsel
today, achieving a double All-Ireland in U-16 Football & Hurling this year,
to add to the U-16 football Paul McGirr title won last year.
"It was just great to hear the crowd
chanting C'mon the 'Superblues' at the end. It has been a great period in this
school's history. We are all very proud of them."
The game lit up from the start - St
Brendan’s first attack almost yielded a goal but David Shaw's thunderous drive
struck the crossbar and bounced down on the goal line giving the umpires a very
difficult decision to make. The goal was not allowed and from there Good
Counsel went onto establish a foothold in the final.
After 10 minutes 'The Sem' did find a goal when
Donnchadh O’Sullivan took advantage of some fine interchange play to score,
giving the Killarney side the lead.
However, it was the only time on the day that
they would be ahead of their Wexford opponents.
And it was from there that O'Connor burst into
life and his side took over. They clipped over a spate of points before Mark
Hartnett hit back with another goal for Brendan's.
The end to end nature of this fine spectacle
continued when O’Connor slotted home his first penalty. He then hit two long
range points to help his side into 1-9 to 2-1 at the break.
The Kerry giants had a stiff wind in their
favour after that but when O’Connor goaled from the spot again soon after the
restart the writing was on the wall.
They surged on from there, leading 2-11 to 2-1.
Still, by the game's end, St Brendan’s were left
kicking themselves. They missed a stack of chances, had that disallowed goal to
reflect upon and only lost by two points when the final whistle blew.
They hit 1-4 without reply but it wasn't enough.
Good Counsel hung on to claim a famous double with the junior hurling title and
back to back McGirr cups.