Coláiste Choilm’s Cillian Bourke tries to retain control of the ball under pressure from Marist College’s Tadhg Baker. Photo: Ger Rogers.

Bourke leads the way as Coláiste Choilm overcome Marist

Coláiste Choilm 3-8 Marist College 1-9

By Eamon A. Donoghue

Coláiste Choilm goals by Cillian Bourke and Dara Bates in the first half were enough to see off Marist College in this Leinster Schools SF ‘A’ championship game at O’Connor Park on Thursday of last week.

The Tullamore side came into the game off a defeat to St Mel’s, Longford in the first round. They have played their two games in the group, and are now waiting to see if they will qualify for the quarter-finals.

They need St Mel’s to beat Marist College by five or more points. They could have made their chances of qualification easier, but a late 1-1 by the Marist has given the Athlone school every chance of qualifying, and knocking Coláiste Choilm out.

It was obvious Tullamore were playing for survival and they had a rapid start to the game. They were determined, aggressive and went for the win fearlessly.

They had laid the platform against the wind in the first quarter. Cillian Bourke won the throw-in, carried the ball some 40 metres, before his goal attempt was saved by Marist goalie Luke Nicholson. Moments later, Bourke made amends by blasting the ball to the net for the opening score of the game. Tullamore had shown their intent.

This was Marist’s first game in the championship and they looked sluggish. Or maybe they just weren’t as determined, knowing they had another game. This wasn't a knockout game for them. They hung in there during the first half, as scores from Kian Mitchell, Thomas Bourke and Daire O’Connor kept them in touch of their opponents. But in truth, they never looked like overturning the deficit.

Coláiste Choilm’s outstanding player, Cillian Bourke showed the way from the first minute. Bourke had 1-1 to his name despite playing at midfield.

The second Coláiste Choilm goal was scored by Dara Bates, after Niall Furlong and Steven Doran were involved in the build-up. The 25th-minute introduction of Ryan Kenny was also key as he gave the Marist defence something different to deal with and he scored 1-2.

The Marist did have some inventive moments in spurts, as points from Andrew Stuart Trainor (two) and Mitchell kept them in the game. Coláiste Choilm led 2-2 to 0-6 at half-time.

After the turnaround, the Tullamore boys were helped by both the strong wind and the Marist losing their way. The more the Marist retreated deep in their own half, the more they struggled to make any headway against the Tullamore defence. The more the Athlone school tried to attack, slowly and predictably, the more they got turned over, which led to decisive Tullamore scores at the other end.

The third quarter belonged to Tullamore’s Cian Bracken. The accurate Daingean player five points in the second half - all from placed balls. Tullamore were leading 2-7 to 0-8 close to the end.

Then Tullamore scored their third goal to seal the win. The Marist were on the attack and again they couldn’t break through the Tullamore rearguard. Tadhg Baker opted for a speculative punt into the Tullamore goalmouth and, seconds later, Kenny had the ball planted in the Marist net. Game over. To make sure, Kenny kicked another point moments after his goal.

Kenny’s goal was Tullamore at their best. They moved the ball sharply from their own goalmouth, with John Colgan, Patrick Kenna and Steven Doran all involved and Kenny did the rest. Moments earlier, they had cut through the Marist after turning them over, but Niall Furlong had his goal attempt saved by Nicholson on that occasion.

To their credit, the Marist kept plugging away and they got a fortunate penalty, as Kenna accidentally touched the ball on the ground after Baker had attempted a goalbound shot that was blocked. O’Connor dispatched the spot kick past Sean Kavanagh.

Another gallant Marist attack led to Baker getting fouled and the Caulry senior player dusted himself down and, going for a goal, he blazed the resultant free over the bar.

Tullamore allowed a seemingly unassailable lead be cut to just five points. They were the better side all through, but will now have to sweat it out before knowing their future in the Leinster championship.

The Marist will need to improve and they retreated far too deep in the second half. Their counter attacks were too slow, with players more inclined to go on individual solo runs rather than moving the ball at pace.

Taking off key forward Charlie O’Carroll after 40 minutes seemed strange - if he was off colour or not, he is a forward that can kick scores and the Marist didn't seem to be overflowing with scoring forwards. O’Carroll’s scoring form will be vital in their last group game - a knockout encounter.

Player of the match: Cillian Bourke (Coláiste Choilm). Bourke was the main instigator of the Tullamore side’s win. He set out their intent from the throw-in and Tullamore never looked back after his early goal. He continued to win possession at midfield and linked the play for his eager teammates. Tadhg Kelly, John Colgan and Peter McKeagney managed to keep prolific Marist scorer Charlie O’Carroll scoreless. Cian Bracken was accurate from placed balls and substitute Ryan Kenny was a match winner.

Scorers - Coláiste Choilm: R Kenny 1-2; C Bracken 0-5 (4f, 1 45); C Bourke 1-1 (0-1f); D Bates 1-0. Marist College: D O’Connor 1-2 (1-0pen, 0-1f), A Stuart Trainor and T Baker (1f) 0-2 each; T Bourke, F Duffy and K Mitchell 0-1 each.

Coláiste Choilm, Tullamore: Seán Kavanagh, Tadhg Kelly, John Colgan, Peter McKeagney, David O’Rourke, Patrick Kenna, Brian Guinan, Cillian Bourke, Eoin Dunne, Cian Bracken, Niall Furlong, Dara Bates, Shane Horkan, Graeme Whittle, Steven Doran. Subs: Ryan Kenny for Whittle (25), Cormac Whittle for Horkan (47), Colm Nolan for O’Rourke (56), Cillian Owens for McKeagney.

Marist College, Athlone: Luke Nicholson, Liam Staunton, Josh Kenny, Owen McNamara, Conor Dowling, Tadhg Baker, Cathal Hardiman, Thomas Bourke, Kealan Connell, Daire O’Connor, Adam Smyth, Kian Mitchell, Andrew Henson, Andrew Stuart Trainor, Charlie O’Carroll. Subs: Killian Redmond for Hardiman (H-T), Finn Duffy for O’Carroll (40), Conor Reid for Bourke (49).

Referee: Brendan Hickey.