Glory, Glory Scoil Pól All-Ireland Champions in the Masita All-Ireland PPS Senior Hurling C Championship Michael Cusack Cup Final

All-Ireland champions, joint captains Kristian O’Gorman centre and Shane Fitzgibbon raise the Michael Cusack Cup with Man of the Match Darren Frewen on left.

SCOIL PÓL, KILFINANE……………………………………………………………………………0-16
COLÁISTE MHUIRE, BALLYGAR………………………………………………………………1-8
On a day never to be forgotten, Scoil Pól were crowned All-Ireland Senior C Hurling champions following victory over Coláiste Mhuire, Ballygar at Daly Park, Tulla last Friday.
It was an unforgettable day and an unforgettable performance by the Kilfinane students that sees the name of Scoil Pól emblazoned on the Post Primary Schools hurling roll of honour for a historic first time.
The green pastures of east Clare was an appropriate setting for Scoil Pól’s finest hour as Tulla is the home of the school’s dynamic Principal, Michael O’Hara.
Despite having to line out with joint captain Shane Fitzgibbon nursing a knock and young star Daithi Dennehy getting out of a sick bed, Scoil Pól displayed incredible courage and fortitude that on Friday evening had the cheers of All-Ireland victory re-echoing off the Ballyhouras.
It was a very comfortable five points win with the final tally flattering the vanquished somewhat on a day when the victors scored sixteen times to their opponents nine and misfired nine times compared with Ballygar’s three. Seven players in the colours of Scoil Pól got on the scoreboard while the Galway students were very reliant on the scoring exploits of Cathal Moloney and Joey Wallace.
Anthony Punch, Ed Kiely and Peadar McCarthy sent out a side on to the Tulla turf that did not countenance defeat, a well prepared and primed group of players that summoned extraordinary courage and resolve to fashion a famous victory for the south Limerick seat of learning.
It was a victory fashioned out with raw courage, commitment and no mean amount of skill and will serve as a paragon for others as to what can be achieved through good organisation and preparation.
On a day when the school’s 720 enrolment almost en bloc decamped to Clare, it was a display of incredible internal fortitude from the goalkeeper to the left corner forward and those who came off the bench and from the first shrill on referee John Bugler’s whistle to the last, ensured that the young men from Scoil Pól will take custody of the symbol of supremacy of All-Ireland Colleges Senior C Hurling, the Michael Cusack Cup for the next twelve months.
Every player more than played their part on the historic day, none more so than Man of the Match Darren Frewen. The Glenroe wizard when near the sliothar visited all sorts of mayhem on the Coláiste Mhuire defence with his silken skills and on a day when scores were at the premium due to the tight exchanges, contributed four points, his white flag from a line ball late in the first half a strike for the ages.
Frewen’s scoring contribution would have been much greater were it not for two splendid saves by Coláiste Mhuire goalkeeper Michael Naughton, one in each half to deny the corner forward almost certain goals.
It was far from a one man show as every player in the side inspirationally led by joint captains Shane Fitzgibbon and Kristian O’Gorman reached heights especially in the second half that any side could not have lived with in Scoil Pól’s ruthless quest for victory.
Scoil Pól got off to a poor start and despite playing with the aid of a fresh breeze found themselves 1-1 to 0-0 behind after just four minutes. But the Kilfinane students’ capacity not to panic and respond following the concession of the early goal was crucial as was the response in the second half when Coláiste Mhuire racked up a trio of quick fire points to close the gap to just two points with ten minutes remaining.
It was a Coláiste Mhuire squad drawn mainly from just two clubs Ballygar in north Galway and Four Roads in south Roscommon with two Athleague players among those on the bench.
Coláiste Mhuire coached by current Galway senior hurler Evan Niland and Johnny Waldron front loaded the full forward line with 2022 Galway minor vice-captain Joey Wallace and 2023 county minor Harry Holmes but their presence so close to goal did not faze in the least Messrs Cronin, Philpot and Crowley in the full back line who established a vice like grip on proceedings in front of Cathal Dennehy after the concession of the early goal and refused to relent until John Bugler sounded the final whistle.
The Coláiste Mhuire students will have left Tulla very disappointed but consoled by freely accepting that on the day, they played second fiddle to their fired up Limerick counterparts.
Cathal Moloney opened the Ballygar account from a free after three minutes and the same player was involved a minute later in setting up Harry O’Sullivan to blast past Cathal Dennehy from close range.
Scoil Pól settled with Shane Fitzgibbon landing a trademark long range free and it was followed by points from Darren Frewen, from a free and from play by Kristian O’Gorman and a second from Darren Frewen to turn it around and lead 0-5 to 1-1 at the end of the first quarter.
Joey Wallace from a free tied up the scores before the Limerick students finished the half on top with points from Colin Bresnihan, Kristian O’Gorman free and Darren Frewen. The last score from Man of the Match Frewen a sublimely struck line ball from distance, Scoil Pól 0-8, Coláiste Mhuire 1-2 at half time.
Within a minute of the restart Cathal Dennehy made a fine save to deny Harry Holmes a second Coláiste Mhuire goal. At the other end, Scoil Pól exerted a grip on proceedings with three points in a row from Kristian O’Gorman free, a fine individual effort from James O’Sullivan and another O’Gorman free.
Kristian O’Gorman further extended the lead to six before the westerners staged a mini revival that yielded a brace of points apiece from Cathal Moloney and then Joey Wallace from play and a free to close the gap to two, 0-12 to 1-7, with ten minutes remaining.
Up stood Shane Fitzgibbon with a long range free to put three between the sides. It quickly became four after a fine individual score from right corner back Darragh Cronin who raided down the left beating a couple of Ballygar players before bisecting the posts.
The scent of victory was now in Scoil Pól nostrils and the Frewen cousins Darren and Adam added points to restore a six points cushion with two minutes remaining and the game out of the Galway lads’ reach.
Cathal Moloney had a late consolation point for Ballygar but it was much too little too late.
Scorers: Scoil Pól Kilfinane: Kristian O’Gorman 0-6, 5fs; Darren Frewen 0-4, 1s; Shane Fitzgibbon 0-2, 2fs; Colin Bresnihan, James O’Sullivan, Darragh Cronin, Adam Frewen 0-1 each.
Coláiste Mhuire Ballygar:  Cathal Maloney 2 frees, Joey Wallace three frees 0-4 each; Harry O’Sullivan 1-0.
Scoil Pól Kilfinane: Cathal Dennehy (Glenroe); Darragh Cronin (Kilmallock) James Philpot (Blackrock), Oran Crowley (Staker Wallace); John O’Connell (Bruree), Shane Fitzgibbon (Dromin-Athlacca) (Joint-Captain), Kevin Hayden (Bruree); Cillian O’Riordan (Effin), Colin Bresnihan (Castletown-Ballyagran); Owen Barrington (Bruree), James O’Sullivan (Garryspillane), Billy Lonergan (Glenroe); Darren Frewen (Glenroe), Kristian O’Gorman (Charleville), Daithí Dennehy (Glenroe).
Subs: Michael Barry (Staker Wallace) for Billy Lonergan (HT); Adam Frewen (Glenroe) for Daithi Dennehy (44); Michael Quaid (Dromin-Athlacca) for Owen Barrington (57).
Coláiste Mhuire Ballygar: Michael Naughton (Ballygar); Adam Kenny (Four Roads), Luke Finnerty (Ballygar), Ethan Kelly (Four Roads); Rory Coyle (Four Roads), Conor Kelly (Four Roads) – Captain, Gerard Healy (Ballygar); Eoghan Naughton (Ballygar), Cathal Moloney (Ballygar); Jamie Kelly (Four Roads), Gavin Meares (Four Roads), Cian Downey (Ballygar); Harry O’Sullivan (Ballygar), Joey Wallace (Ballygar), Harry Holmes (Ballygar).
Sub: Oisín Finneran (Four Roads) for Luke Finnerty (60), Alan Kilcommins (Ballygar) for Cian Downey (60+1).
Referee: John Bugler, Clare.