Coláiste Choilm make history as they march into Leinster 'A' Final

07-February-24
Coláiste Choilm make history as they march into Leinster 'A' Final

Colaiste Choilm 1-11

Saint Pats Navan 1-09

Leinster Senior Schools A, Semi Final, Killucan GAA, Westmeath.

By Ronan Cleary and Cian Mannion

Photos by Finnan McDonagh

A valiant victory for Coláiste Choilm sees the team make the Leinster Senior Schools A football final for the first time in the school's history with a huge 2 points in additional time by Cian Bracken to seal the win for the men in blue and red.

An electric atmosphere created by both sides supporters helped foster a great sense of occasion. Fionnan O’Connor opened the scoring after a couple of minutes as his free sailed over the blackspot. Pats were quick to win Kavanagh's kickout as Billy Smyth put the ball over for his first of the day.

Coláiste Choilm did not take long to respond with a goal from Niall Furlong after he rebounded the shot that deflected off the post from a superb run by Cillian Bourke from the middle of the field. Coláiste Choilm kept the pressure on St. Pat’s Navan as Ryan Kenny scored his first point of the day from a free to extend Coláiste Choilm's lead to a 2-point advantage.

A slight mix up at the back from Colaiste Choilm looked to have put Cian Commons through on goal before Sean Kavanagh produced a spectacular save to touch the ball over the bar and keep his team in front.

Commons drew Navan level halfway through the first half as he tapped over a close range free. He added a third to his tally a couple of minutes later as he pointed another free from similar range.

On the 20th minute, Ryan Kenny added to his scoring tally for Coláiste Choilm, to once again equalise the tie between the two sides. Commons did not back down from his scoring form, hitting another point from a free for St. Pats Navan.

Mark Glancy pointed to the spot less than a minute later as Patrick Kenna was deemed to have fouled Billy Smyth. Kavanagh was close to making an excellent save but the ball just flew past his fingers and into the top right corner to leave Navan feeling confident with half time approaching.

‘The Brothers’ applied pressure very efficiently in Pats half, winning plenty of turnovers, but it took them until the stroke of half time until they could register another score when Furlong tapped over a nice free. Half time score of 1-3 to 1-6 as Colaiste Choilm would be happy going in with a wind behind their back to come in the second half.

As the second half started, Coláiste Choilm knew they needed a strong opening quarter to close in on St. Pat’s Navan 3-point lead. Navan did start the second half well as they called Sean Kavanagh into action early on when he rushed off his line quickly to produce a very important low save to deny Sean Betson a tap in. Niall Furlong finished a superb team score with an excellent point moments later.

Matthew Kealy’s 45 dropped in front of the goal where Patrick Kenna was ready to fist it out of danger. Steven Doran’s clearance off the ground resulted in a beautiful ball into the hands of Davin Keegan. Keegan found Eoin Dunne in the middle of the field before laying it off to John Colgan who weaved his way around Navan men to find Bourke. Bourke found Furlong with an excellent pass where the latter drove the ball over the bar to the Colaiste Choilm supporters delight.

St. Pat’s Navan converted another point from a Cian Commons free to give Coláiste Choilm a 3-point deficit to fight back with 20 minutes of play remaining. Super sub Cian Bracken, who was a late change out of the team due to injury, was presented with half a chance at goal, but it was Pats Fionn McHale who put in a brilliant block to stop any threat of a goal.

Niall Furlong floated over his third of the game as Navan failed to clear after Doran’s quick snapshot at goal. It only took another minute before Bracken got his first from a beautifully struck 45 to narrow Navan’s already slim lead to a single point.

Cian Commins floated his fifth free of the game over the crossbar with a nervy 10 minutes to go as the game began to open up. Billy Smyth followed up with a score he crafted all himself as he won Kavanagh’s kickout, played a quick one-two before driving the ball over the blackspot to bring his tally to 1-2.

Colaiste Choilm’s incredible late purple patch began when Ryan Kenny put over a free straight in front of the goals. ‘The Brothers’ produced another wonderful team score moments later.

John Colgan hit a superb pass into the hands of the fantastic Cillian Bourke as he looked up and played the ball onto Cormac Whittle. Whittle was quick to find O’Rourke as the latter did well to lay off the ball to Furlong. Furlong produced a score for the ages as he weaved past several Pats defenders before calmly floating a stunner over the bar to bring the game back to a point.

It only took mere moments for Colaiste Choilm to draw level. Cillian Bourke won what must have been his sixth mark of the day as he leaped highest to win the Navan kick out. After swift passing, the ball ended up in Bracken’s gloves as he floated over a peach to send the Colaiste Choilm supporters into ecstasy.

Captain Steven Doran rallied Colaiste Choilm supporters as he left the field of play. Bracken fisted over two minutes into stoppage time after Aaron Rattigan found him with an innovative pass.

The dream had come true, with seconds ticking on the clock, Bracken scored his third in five minutes, to seal the victory for Coláiste Choilm.The full-time whistle was blown a minute later as ‘The Brothers’ supporters burst onto the field. A massive win for the Colaiste Choilm Boys as History was made! A first ever Br. Bosco Cup Final to look forward to.

The Teams:

Colaiste Choilm: Sean Kavanagh, Peter McKeagney, John Colgan, Tadgh Kelly, Brian Guinan, Patrick Kenna, David O’Rourke, Cillian Bourke, Eoin Dunne, Dara Bates, Niall Furlong (1-4, 0-1 free), Davin Keegan, Steven Doran (C), Ryan Kenny (0-3, 0-3 frees) Aaron Rattigan. Subs: Cormac Whittle for Brian Guinan, 35 mins. Cian Bracken (0-4, 0-1 45’) for Davin Keegan, 35 mins. Eoin Rouse for Dara Bates, 43 mins. Shane Horkan for Steven Doran, 62 mins.

Saint Pats Navan: Jamie Norris, Fionn McHale, Sean McLoughlin, Tadgh Murray, Oisín O’Neill, Matthew Kealy, Sean Betson, Darren O’Brien, David Donnelly, Fionnan O’Connor (0-1, 0-1 free), Cian Commons (0-6, 0-5 frees), Harry Cahill, Andrew Gormley, Billy Smyth (1-2, 1-0 pen), Conor Donohoe. Subs: Jamie Duffy for Fionnan O’Connor, 42 mins. James Donnelly for Harry Cahill, 44 mins. John Gormley for Tadgh Murray, 44 mins. Daniel Gavagan for Sean Betson, 60 mins.

Player of the Match: Colaiste Choilm had numerous excellent performances. Billy Smyth stood out for Navan. But there were two men a level above the rest today. Those two men are Cillian Bourke and Niall Furlong. Bourke was a machine in the middle as he won everything in the air and produced a number of excellent passes. Furlong scored a couple of points that any footballer in the country would strive for and produced an excellent all-important assist for Cian Bracken’s insurance score. The man we have chosen to give the award to is Niall Furlong.Niall Furlong showcased his determination, and in our opinion, he is the Man of the match. Cian Bracken’s magic off the bench was also vital in completing Colaiste Choilm’s comeback.

Up Next: Colaiste Choilm, now move on to the Leinster Schools A football final for the first time in the school's existence. A resilient performance from ‘The Brothers’ was showcased, which can only be applauded. St. Pat’s Navan also showed their worth in this game and although they’re defeated, they should be nothing but proud for their performances up to this point.

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