(originally posted by Giveitfong on boards.ie)
Coláistí na nDéise (CnD) made their exit from the All-Ireland Senior A Colleges Championship today when they were edged out after extra time by Kilkenny CBS an an exciting and hard-fought quarter final game in Walsh Park.
This was a very disappointing outcome as CnD failed to reproduce the terrific form which had seen them outplay St Flannans, De La Salle and Nenagh CBS in the Harty Cup competition. The superb first touch and excellent field craft which had been evident in all these games were largely absent today as the collective psychological malaise which can envelop entire teams in sport unfortunately cast its spell on the Dungarvan schools combination.
All over the field, and from start to finish, CnD players had difficulty in controlling incoming ball either in hand or on stick, and first, and even second and third, attempts to pick ball from the ground failed repeatedly. This allowed a highly committed Kilkenny outfit to get in tackles, win possession or bottle up CnD players when they did manage to get the ball in hand. As a result, the CnD players were constantly under pressure and unable to deliver the kinds of telling balls which had been a hallmark of their earlier displays. However, it has to be said that, even when in open country, the CnD lads more often than not made poor use of the ball, regularly sending it down the middle to unmarked Kilkenny players, and resorting to high lobs into the Kilkenny goal area which yielded little return.
Kilkenny CBS, by contrast, had no problems with their close control while their ability to win ball in the air set them apart from their opponents. Yet despite all this, CnD could well have won this game had they made good use of a host of scoring chances in the third quarter which could have put them out of sight.
Playing with the stiff wind blowing into the city end, Kilkenny CBS demonstrated right away that they were not there just to make up the numbers, and were almost completely on top in the first quarter, as CnD were unable to get any decent possession in midfield or in their half forward line. An early goal (after CnD goalie Eoin Kearns had made a superb block) threatened to open the flood gates, but a resolute CnD defence and some poor shooting meant the visitors were making hardly any impact on the scoreboard. Through sheer hard work, CnD finally managed to get into the game, but they too struggled to find the range shooting against the wind. However, a superb point on the run from the left wing by midfield Colin Dunford provided a huge boost as CnD went in at half time just three points down, 1-3 to 0-3.
To my mind, the CnD mentors made a big mistake in moving left half back Tadhg Burke into the full back line early in the first half. This was done to plug a weakness, but it greatly reduced the impact on the game of possibly CnD’s finest hurler. To make matters worse, they left him there even when playing with the wind in the second half, and the impact he made when he was finally moved out suggests that the decision to move him back and then leave him there may have cost them the game.
However, this did not appear to be a problem in the third quarter when CnD took over the game, quickly eliminating the Kilkenny lead and moving three points ahead themselves, with corner forward Patrick Curran finishing a superb movement neatly to the net. However, CnD seemed to become preoccupied with scoring goals, with the result that several easy tap-over point chances went abegging.
CnD could well have been eight or nine points ahead when the inevitable Kilkenny fightback began. This fightback was sparked off by a very fortuitous and questionable goal which went straight to the CnD net from a 65 metre free, as the CnD goalie was put off by a swing from a Kilkenny forward who seemed to be well inside the square. Indeed, the referee, who was a long way out the field, appeared to be about to intervene, but when the umpire decisively put up the green flag he decided to leave things be.
Even then, CnD managed to get their nose in front on a couple of more occasions, but they could not shake off their opponents as the game finished level in ordinary time. Kilkenny got first use of the wind in extra time and certainly availed of it, shooting over four points without reply. When they scored another against the wind in the second period of extra time the writing seemed to be on the wall for CnD, but two points brought the gap down to a single goal, but although they laid siege to the Kilkenny goal in the closing minutes, and were awarded to close-in frees, CnD failed to breach the citadel and were still a goal behind when the referee blew the final whistle.
So Coláistí na Déise are now out of the All-Ireland competition, while the team they beat in the Harty Cup final, Nenagh CBS, have gone straight through to the semi-final after the Ulster Colleges team withdrew from the competition. Why do situations like this always seem to happen to Waterford teams? CnD will rue the 13 wides which they ran up here, although Kilkenny CBS had 12 wides of their own. CnD also had several shots in the first half which fell short against the wind, and several shots for goal blocked out by the Kilkenny defence, especially in the second half. Kilkenny were also that bit cuter when they had the ball in tight situations, which stood to them in the end.
Nevertheless, hats off to the Coláistí lads who showed over the last few weeks that they can play to a very high level, and provided us with great entertainment and a mighty boost to morale in the process. We look forward to seeing many of them in the Waterford jersey later in the year, and if they can reproduce what they are capable of, they could be there or thereabouts.
Coláistí na nDéise: Eoin Kearns; Keelan Looby; Tom Tobin; Seán O’Donovan; Evan Collins; Tom Devine; Tadhg Burke; Colin Dunford (0-1); Cormac Curran; Cathal Curran (0-7, 6 frees); Michael Harney (0-1); Ryan Donnelly (0-2); Michael Kiely; Kieran Power (0-1); Patrick Curran (1-0). Substitutes used: Kevin Sheehan; Christy Breathnach; Eamon Crotty.