King’s Hospital and Kilkenny College both broke their long wait to qualify for the All-Ireland Schoolboys Championships on Friday as they won through from their respective Leinster groups.
For KH, it was nine years ago when they last played in the main event and they qualified the hard way, coming from a goal down against both Mount Temple and Sandford Park to win both times.
In the first tie, Leinster Under-18 Sean Harper’s gave Temple a lead before KH turned things around with Colm Harris equalising before skipper Tom Cole dragged them into a lead. Under-16 interpro Brooklyn Mapfumo then closed out the 3-1 to put them in great shape.
It meant that a win over Sandford would see them through but they fell behind once again. Cole’s second of the day levelled matters, though, before half-time and a back post finish from Michael Small from Mapfumo’s cross midway through the second half snatched a 2-1 result and qualification for Cork in October.
Across the city in Whitechurch Park, Newpark made the initial moves with a 1-0 win over St Columba’s. They followed up with a 1-1 draw against Kilkenny, Myles Brady scoring for the cats.
It means Kilkenny had to win by more than the single goal that Newpark had mustered against Columba’s if they were to end their six year wait for a spot at the top table.
And they did so in style with Max Neill scoring twice in the first half, taking on the defence at every possible opportunity. He capped the win with his third goal in the second half for a 3-0 win and their passage to Cork was assured.
The two schools will now join the pre-qualified Wesley, St Andrew’s and High School by virtue of their performances last season to make up Leinster’s quota.
The Munster qualifiers, meanwhile, remain to be confirmed. They were due to play their qualifiers on Thursday but the passing of long-time Villiers hockey representative Neville Atkinson meant the tournament was deferred.
From Ulster, Campbell College, RBAI and Bangor GS have joined Banbridge Academy, Royal & Prior, Sullivan Upper and Wallace HS in qualifying for this year’s Irish school’s tournament in Cork. The final place will be determined by the result of Friends v Cookstown HS.
All-Ireland Schools qualifiers:
Leinster: St Andrew’s, Wesley, High School, King’s Hospital, Kilkenny College
Ulster: Banbridge Academy, Royal & Prior, Sullivan Upper, Wallace HS, Campbell College, RBAI, Bangor GS