All-Ireland Schoolboy’s Championships – Day One round-up
Sutton Park struggled against one of the pre-tournament favourites Banbridge Academy at St Columba’s, losing out 7-0 in their opening game. Bann bring with them a side with plenty of experience at this level with the likes of Hugh McShane, Peter Brown, Owen Magee, Josh Moffett, Niall Kelly, Ciaran Kelly and Robin Smyrl all Ulster or Ireland representatives.
Ashton are the main challengers at this point, having left it late to pull clear of seven-time champions RBAI, eventually winning 4-0. Calvin Casey scored early on but, though they held plenty of possession, it was only in the last five minutes to make the game safe. As the Belfast side pushed forward, Ashton countered, drawing a corner and a yellow card. Wesley Brownlow netted for 2-0, set up Gary Wilkinson a moment later for three before shooting a last minute corner to augment a lop-sided looking scoreboard.
Pool A results: Banbridge 7 Sutton Park 0; Ashton 4 (W Brownlow 2, G Wilkinson, C Casey) RBAI 0
Standings: 1. Banbridge 2pts (+7) 2. Ashton 2pts (+4) 3. RBAI 0pts (-4) 4. Sutton Park 0pts (-7)
Ian Sloan’s corner bullets were the vital ingredient in Cookstown HS’ 3-2 victory over Kilkenny, taking their opener 3-2 in what looks set to be a very evenly matched pool. The Co Tyrone school just about deserved win against the cats whom Brian Gray felt slightly under-performed. David McClure got both of their goals but Sloan shot two corner flicks to see his side home.
Midleton’s return to the competition saw them come from a goal behind to bag a 1-1 draw against a hard-working Methody side. Rory Turner gave them the lead in the second half but Burns was taken down when one-on-one on goal. He dusted himself off to net from the penalty spot.
Pool B: Cookstown 3 (I Sloan 2, AN Other) Kilkenny 2 (D McClure 2); Midleton 1 (N Burns) MCB 1 (R Turner)
Standings: 1. Cookstown 2pts (+1) 2. MCB 1pt (0) 3. Midleton 1pt (0) 4. Kilkenny 0pts (-1)
David Watkins was the St Andrew’s match-winner but the Booterstown school were also grateful to a superb Cian Booth stick-save to eke out a 1-0 win over last year’s finalists Wallace. Watkins cracked home a loose ball in the circle. It came midway through the second half of their tie but Booth needed to be alert to dive full-length to keep out Matthew Murphy’s drag-flick. Friends took the early initiative in Pool C, helped by the absence of Simon Lowry, winning 4-0 against Newpark.
Pool C: St Andrew’s 1 (D Watkins) Wallace HS 0; Newpark 0 Friends 4
Standings: 1. Friends 2pts (+4) 2. St Andew’s 2pts (+1) 3. Wallace 0pts (-1) 4. Newpark 0pts (-4)
In what looked the ‘group of death’ prior to the tournament, comfortable wins for Wesley and Sullivan Upper sees them the front-runners in the race for the single qualification place.
Wesley had a lively tie against Bandon Grammar, Jonathon Lewis opening the scoring before Shane Madeley’s pair made it 3-0 – his first particularly opportunistic, throwing out a stick after an earlier collision had left him on the floor. The graceful Darren Sweetnam pulled one back before half-time but a second half doubles from Johnny Roberts and Andrew Malcolm countered by Trevor Gray’s stroke and Ben Scott’s reverse ended the tie 7-3.
Sullivan had a surprisingly comprehensive 4-0 win over Campbell in the other tie, setting up a key tie at 11.30am on Thursday morning with hosts Wesley.
Pool D results: Wesley 7 (S Madeley 2, A Malcolm 2, J Roberts 2, J Lewis) Bandon 3 (D Sweetnam, T Gray, B Scott); Sullivan Upper 4 Campbell College 0
Standings: 1. Wesley 2pts (+4) 2. Sullivan Upper 2pts (+4) 3. Bandon GS 0pts (-4) 4. Campbell College 0pts (-4)