Banbridge and St Andrew’s were the penalty kings in Ballinteer this morning, both needing strokes to end the run of Wesley and Midleton, respectively, in a dramatic pair of semi-finals.
Bann’s win was the tenser, the Co Down side thankful to Ben Cosgrove’s deflected effort deep into the second half to recover from a half-time deficit. It was no less than they deserved as they applied wave after wave of pressure with Josh Moffett and Hugh McShane kept the tournament hosts camped in their own 25.
Continual breakdowns at corner-time, though, threatened to scupper their chances as they came up with a series of innovations to no tangible effect.
That was until Cosgrove decided on the simple option, a straight hit which took a stick to redirect the ball into the netting on Rob Fitzgerald’s left.
It cancelled out Shane Madeley’s immaculate ninth minute opener, finding the top right stanchion as Wesley probed to better effect in the first half. Tom Samuel burst through only for his reverse to be smothered by Michael Anderson but it was one of scarce clear paths to goal in a cagey affair.
With normal time ending 1-1 and the tie going straight to strokes. The first 13 efforts were all scored with the minimum of fuss but the fourteenth, Wesley’s seventh, caught the crossbar flush to hand Bann a shot of a first title since 2006.
On the top pitch, Andrews and Midleton played out a much-more free-flowing tie, though set pieces were once again the main avenue to goal.
Both Nick Burns and David Cole registered hat-tricks – the former rifling home three corner bullets, the third to tie the fixture up at the death while Cole mixed a pair of drags with a penalty stroke, given when the whistle just beat David Watkins en route to goal.
Jakim Bernsden made two saves early in this stroke competition but an Andrew’s miss gave Lee Cole the chance to win it. He shot low and true to see the 2008 champions back into the final.
All-Ireland Schoolboy’s results: Wesley College 1 (Shane Madeley) Banbridge Academy 1 (Ben Cosgrove), Banbridge won 7-6 on penalties; St Andrew’s 3 (David Cole 3) Midleton 3 (Nick Burns 3), St Andrew’s win 4-3 on penalties
Final: St Andrew’s vs Banbridge Academy, 2.30pm, Wesley College Ballinteer