St Andrew’s will meet Wesley in the Leinster Schoolboys Senior A league final next Wednesday following contrasting wins in Friday’s semi-finals.
For Andrew’s, they edged out High School 1-0 courtesy of a single Sam Walker goal midway through the first half. The Booterstown outfit were the stronger through the first half, forcing three early corners with chances for Stephen Nevin and David Vincent going close before they went ahead.
Similar to the All-Ireland final, High School grew into the game and drew a couple of corners. They went on to dominate possession in the second half with their best chance coming when Evan Jennings turned over the ball and in one-on-on with Matthew O’Brien Holohan but the goalkeeper pulled off a top save.
Ben Hickmott forced a great save from Ben Whelan to keep the game in the balance with five to go before Andrew’s corner defence withstood a final hooter effort from HSD to advance.
For Wesley, they produced a blistering second half performance to beat King’s Hospital 6-1. It was just 1-0 after a close-fought first half before the Ballinteer side – fresh from a high quality tour to Polo in Barcelona – starred in the second half.
King’s Hos started the brighter, teams applying with a high press on the Wes back four. After the first five minutes, Wesley grew into the game, building their own pressure with Ben Cullen firing after a warning shot.
KH sat deeper in the second half and exist on the break off the back of pin-point overheads but also giving Wesley a greater chance to dominate possession.
Once Wesley broke through the low press via overlaps on the right, the managed to win a penalty corner on the stroke of half time which Adam Walker converted for a crucial advantage.
The third quarter saw Wesley go through the gears, ramping up the pressure with Cullen converting from a rebound, Scott Ruttle scoring a wonderful team goal after some neat interplay seeing Daniel Plunkett and Gavin Herlihy connect on the baseline.
The fourth goal effectively ended the contest with Fionn Marriott using his pace to round the keeper and slot home on the backhand.
The fourth quarter saw Kings Hos pull one back from the penalty spot from Ireland A cricketer Mitchell Thompson after a foot struck a defender’s foot on the line, converting down the stick side.
But the respite was brief as Tom Power provided an unforgettable fifth goal, hitting a backhand from the edge of the circle in the very top right-hand corner, clipping the post and going in. Three minutes later, Adam Galbraith went on a solo run, beating the last three defenders and hitting a forehand shot top left corner, going in off the upright.
At Senior B level, St Kilian’s and St Andrew’s B side are through from their respective semi-finals. The former got by the challenge of Newpark in a shoot-out, surviving an early spell in which the Blackrock outfit had several chances but were held at bay.
After 18 minutes, Kilian’s broke out and scored when Robin Macarualy picked up a rebound and swept home for 1-0 and it remained that way despite a pair of Newpark corners.
From the start of the second half, Newpark lifted their game and had Kilian’s under fierce pressure. Goalkeeper Daniel Sheeran made a couple of world class saves but the vanguard eventually told 13 minutes into the period from a corner, Tyron Kritzinger dragging a rocket of a shot to the roof of the net from a corner.
And his side continue to pile on the pressure, winning five short corners in succession but the Kilians defence and keeper kept them out, leading to a shoot-out.
Sheeran, the Kilian’s keeper, was brilliant and prevented Newpark from scoring in three of their shoot-outs. It meant converted efforts from Hugo Heisterkamp, Macarulay and Ben McTiernan outdid the one from Kritzinger for the victory.
Andrew’s Bs, meanwhile, dug deep to land a memorable shoot-out victory. They trailed Kilkenny 2-0 with ten minutes to go. A goal by Ben Kelly gave them hope and a Sam Hickmott drag with two minutes to go leveled things up. They went on to win the shoot-out 3-2.
Leinster Schoolboys League playoffs
Senior A semi-finals: St Andrew’s 1 (S Walker) High School 0; Wesley College 6 (A Walker, B Cullen, S Ruttle, F Marriott, T Power, A Galbraith) King’s Hospital 1 (M Thompson)
Senior B semi-finals: St Kilian’s 1 (R Macarulay) Newpark 1 (T Kritzinger), Kilian’s win shoot-out 3-1; Kilkenny College 2 (tbc) St Andrew’s B 2 (B Kelly, S Hickmott), Andrew’s win shoot-out 3-2