All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Hogan Cup (Senior Football “A”) Semi Final – St. Brendan’s Killarney 4-15 St. Benildus Stillorgan 0-9

St. Brendan’s Killarney defeated St. Benildus Stillorgan by 4-15 to 0-9 in the All-Ireland Post Primary Schools Hogan Cup (Senior Football “A”) Semi Final on Wednesday March 16th at MacDonagh Park Nenagh.

Garry McGrath looks to final as St Brendan’s blitz St Benildus College

By Jackie Cahill for the Irish Examiner newspaper

St Brendan’s Killarney (Kerry) 4-15 St Benildus College (Dublin) 0-9

Coach Garry McGrath is hoping to strike gold at the third attempt after watching his rampant St Brendan’s demolish St Benildus by 18 points yesterday to book their place in the Hogan Cup final on April 2.

McGrath was involved in 2008 and 2010 when ‘The Sem’ lost out to Ulster opposition in the form of St Pat’s Dungannon and St Colman’s Newry, respectively. The final against St Colman’s five years ago was a particularly chastening experience, as St Brendan’s failed to show up at Croke Park.

But they continued their seemingly relentless march to a first Hogan Cup crown since 1992 by clinically putting away the challenge of Dublin outfit St Benildus at MacDonagh Park in Nenagh yesterday. They were 3-7 to 0-0 ahead approaching half-time and when David Shaw netted their third goal in the 27th minute, some patrons headed for the exits.

St Brendan’s have torched all comers en route to Croke Park and while the margin of victory may not have been as great as the 29 points that separated them from Clonmel High School in the Corn Uí Mhuirí decider, this was another impressive display. There may be a fear that St Brendan’s haven’t been tested ahead of their big day at GAA HQ — and they still don’t know their final opponents.

Sligo’s Summerhill College are Connacht champions and they’ll face off against the MacRory Cup winners, St Pat’s Maghera or St Paul’s Bessbrook before St Brendan’s can plan accordingly.

McGrath countered: “Everybody’s saying to us we haven’t been tested all year — we’re tested every day we go out on the field because the lads are testing themselves.

“We set a platform for them and we expect them to perform to a level. Thankfully they’re performing to to it every day and again, the skills we showed there today.”

St Benildus started brightly enough but once Evan Cronin, scorer of 2-3, notched the opening score of the game for St Brendan’s in the fifth minute, the floodgates opened. McGrath agreed: “Once we got into a rhythm, we got a few early scores and kicked on from there.”

Michael Casey bagged the first goal in the 11th minute, finishing off a beautiful team move before Cronin struck four minutes later. Benildus had lost Aaron Walsh to a black card in the 13th minute and St Brendan’s piled on the misery in the first half. Shaw’s goal had the winners 16 points ahead before points from Callum Pearson and Andrew Fox cut the half-time deficit to 14.

St Benildus enjoyed their best spell of the game early in the second half but any remote hopes of a successful comeback were snuffed out in the 40th minute. Sean O’Brien, one of the better players for St Benildus, was turned over in midfield and St Brendan’s broke with lightning speed. A rapid-fire series of handpasses later and Cronin was in on goal before applying a killer finish.

The game petered out from there and now McGrath believes The Sem have unfinished business to attend to. He said: “It was a bad day, 2010 in Croke Park and we were also beaten in the final in 2008, I was over them in Portlaoise. Hopefully third time lucky.” On this evidence, they’ll take some stopping.

Scorers for St Brendan’s: E Cronin 2-3, D Shaw 1-1, D Clifford 0-4 (1f), M Casey 1-0, D Moynihan 0-3, P McCarthy 0-2, A O’Shea & C O’Shea 0-1 each.

Scorers for St Benildus: S O’Brien 0-3, T Fox 0-2, C Pearson, D O’Brien, J Rafferty & A Fox 0-1 each.

ST BRENDAN’S: D Carroll; M Potts, C O’Donoghue, C Gammell; D O’Brien, D Naughton, N Donohue; L Donoghue, B Courtney; D Moynihan, D Clifford, P McCarthy; E Cronin, D Shaw, M Casey.

Subs: D Spillane for Donohue (45), C O’Shea for Casey (51), M Pierce for Potts (55), C Callaghan for Gammell (55), A O’Shea for Cronin (55), F Murphy for Courtney (56).

ST BENILDUS: A O’Callaghan; P O’Reilly, L Doran, A Walsh; D Keogh, A Bradshaw, S O’Reilly; C Pearson, P Flaherty; D O’Brien, J Rafferty, A Fox; S O’Brien, T Fox, T Keane.
Subs: A Kelly for Walsh (b/c 13), C McRory for P O’Reilly (60).

Referee: D O’Mahoney (Tipperary)