Tom Gorman of Moate CS brings the ball away from Cormac Denagher of Scoil Mhuire, Clane during last week’s Leinster Schools SF ‘A’ game. Photos: Paul Molloy.

Moate CS move into last eight as goal burst crushes Clane

GAA: Leinster Post-Primary Schools Senior Football ‘A’ Preliminary Round

By Kevin Egan

Moate Community School rubber stamped their credentials as real contenders for the Brother Bosco Cup last week, when they moved through the gears in the second half of their clash with Scoil Mhuire of Clane. The winners racked up four second half goals to march into the last eight of the Leinster Schools SF 'A' championship with plenty of momentum behind them.

With Athlone Community College choosing to drop to 'B' level, Moate came into this contest comparatively undercooked, with just one round robin game – a one-point win over an Ashbourne CS team who were duly blown out of the water by Hogan Cup champions Naas CBS in the preliminary round – as meaningful preparation. Additionally, given that there was no ‘jeopardy’ in that game, it was hard to get a clear picture on how real that form was.

Scoil Mhuire, in contrast, looked like a raw team with only five survivors from the 15 that started last year’s Leinster semi-final against Maynooth SLS, but also a bit more battle-hardened after having two tough ties against St Pat’s of Navan and St Benildus College to sharpen their saw. Add in the extra random element that came with the tie being moved the astro turf surface at Lakepoint Park, as happened when the Moate school pitch was ruled out on the morning of the game, and it was hard to predict with confidence how this would go, even allowing for what looked like a very decent Moate team on paper, particularly in the middle third of the pitch.

Certainly Niall Daly’s troops would have been the happier side with a 1-9 to 1-3 half-time lead, but a fresh breeze was about to favour Scoil Mhuire in the second half, so even at this stage of proceedings, absolutely nothing could be ruled out, and a tight finish – and possibly even extra-time in the driving rain – was on the cards. A 22-point victory certainly wouldn’t have appeared on anyone’s bingo card.

Chasing the game didn’t suit Scoil Mhuire, however, as they conceded the first two scores of the second half to Ronan Murray and Eoin Bracken, and while they replied with the next two points, quickfire two goals in as many minutes from Pádraig McLoughlin and Ronan Murray pushed the lead out to double figures, and in the blink of an eye, the competitive edge was gone out of matters. From there, Moate CS - who last contested a Leinster Senor 'A' final in 2017 - never looked back.

A superb piece of improvisation saw Caulry's Tiarnan O’Donovan strike goal number four, which was greeted with enthusiastic celebrations from the sideline – if the contest was being filmed by anyone, expect this clip to pop up on your TikTok feed very soon - with Murray putting his name on the fifth after a very slick team move.

DJ Percival struck a late 1-1 for Scoil Mhuire of Clane, but his muted reaction to the goal illustrated that there was no doubt about the result at that stage of the contest.

Unperturbed by the change of venue, Moate CS hit the ground running, moving 0-5 to 0-1 in front after just ten minutes. Moate All Whites club colleagues Eoin Bracken and Daragh Lowry were hugely influential in the middle third and on the scoresheet, while Westmeath hurler David O’Reilly also chipped in with a towering score, as well as dominating the fielding battle.

A stunning solo goal from Rhys Vaughan dragged Scoil Mhuire back into contention, but Moate’s response was exemplary.

Two dead ball scores and O’Donovan's point from play cancelled out the goal, and then O’Reilly’s flat pass into Conor Fox left the Tubber man with a clean run through on goals. He rifled the ball to the top corner for a stunning goal, stretching the lead to seven.

Two good points from DJ Percival before half-time suggested that Clane might yet rally, but they were soon to learn that a very impressive Moate CS team had another gear they were about to find.

Scorers - Moate CS: R Murray 2-3, T O’Donovan 1-2, E Bracken 0-5 (4f), C Fox 1-1, P McLoughlin 1-0, D O’Reilly 0-2 (1f), D Lowry, D Shirley and A Murphy 0-1 each. Scoil Mhuire: DJ Percival 1-4 (0-2f), R Vaughan 1-0, T O’Donoghue and C Denagher (f) 0-1 each.

Moate CS: James Mitchell; Padraig McLoughlin, Cathal Guinan, Tom Gorman; Adam Keane, Donal Shirley, Aodhán Curran; Daragh Lowry, David O’Reilly; Conaire Martin, Eoin Bracken, Dean O’Neill; Conor Fox, Ronan Murray, Tiernan O’Donovan. Subs used: Cian Rainey for Keane (58 mins), Aaron Murphy for O’Reilly (59).

Scoil Mhuire, Clane: Hugh Muldoon; James O’Donoghue, Aaron Manders, Conor Sullivan; Calum Doran, James Keely, Rhys Vaughan; Daniel Colbert, Enda Keane; Aidan Ralph, Cormac Denagher, Adam Fitzpatrick; Tadhg O’Donoghue, James Ralph, DJ Percival. Subs used: James Donlon for A Ralph (42 mins), Ronan Doorey for J Ralph (46), Conor Dunne for Keane (54), Ethan Farrell for J O’Donoghue (54), Ben Kehoe for T O’Donoghue (59).

Referee: Eamon O’Connor (Offaly).